Let’s talk about wholistic and what it means to us in the Global CHE Network and in Neighborhood Transformation.
We spell wholistic with a ‘W’ because it keeps ever in front of us the idea that we need to deal with the whole person, all aspects of their life, and the whole community or neighborhood, meaning all sectors in that place.
Some people and the Webster Dictionary spell it without the W and give it a spiritual meaning from holy. We agree with that BUT feel it is more important to concentrate on the whole, not just on the spiritual or holy aspect.
When we talk wholistically about a person’s life, we are dealing with all aspects: physical or health well-being, spiritual well-being, emotional well-being, and social well-being. When we do this, we are dealing with more than the different sectors such as education, job, medical, etc.
In working in a community or neighborhood, we are looking into the above areas as well, but the different sectors found in a community come more into play. Therefore, when we talk about community, sometimes we will use the term sectors, and when dealing with the individual, we talk more in terms of physical, spiritual, emotional and social aspects.
Just concentrating on one area of life, such as just working with a person’s health or getting them a job, helps them in one way, but there needs to be assistance in multiple areas of life for real transformation to take place.
Let’s look at another aspect of being wholistic. Sometimes agencies talk about being wholistic when they have different people deal with the different sectors or areas in a person’s or community’s life. But to us that is not wholistic. That is parallel track ministry, but all elements rarely come to play in a person or community. Instead, what needs to happen is that multiple elements must come into play in order to see transformation. The people working in their own track are specialists and generally only concentrate on their specialty
I use the illustration: Have you ever look down a straight line of railroad tracks? The tracks start out being in parallel but far down the line they seem to converge. However, as you walk down the tracks you see that they never do. This is what happens when we have specialists working on their track. They hope that all the people working together will bring convergence. But this does not happen.
For us to see wholistic transformation, all areas and sectors of life in individuals and a community must be done by one person who is looking for wholistic transformation to take place. This means we want to help people (in CHE or NT) to be generalists not specialists. This also means you also have to use the KISS, Keep It Short and Simple, principle when helping people. In other words, we must decide what is the most important thing another person needs to understand, and forget sharing many of the “what-ifs”—the things people might need to know in the future or things that might be nice to know but others would never use.
So remember, it is best when we have generalists who deal with multiple areas in a community’s or person’s life, and who keep it simple. In another blog I will share with you how this is accomplished through our participatory teaching approach.