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On Saviourism

My dreams of saving the world started early, were stirred by making a difference, being part of movements for change and helping where I saw need. And if I’m honest I wanted to be like Penelope Cruz in the movie Sahara. I liked the idea of travel and adventure. As Teju Cole says, saviourism is an “emotional experience that validates privilege.”

While noble and innocent enough, my dreams were more about me and placed me as the one with the remedy, the answer, the altruism needed to “fix” things without the much deeper understanding that I hadn’t considered the answers already there.

Many years later I see saviourism in the Aid & Development sector as fixed ideas, unconscious bias, othering, ways of working that keep uneven power dynamics alive. White and Western practitioners without personal commitments to anti-racism work or the ability to slow down and reimagine because they’re beholden to systems that move at a frenetic pace.

All of which to say, what can you do in your corner of the sector to affect change? To amplify majority world voices and slow down long enough to listen and observe less frenetic ways of being?

My course Grounded. Trauma-Informed Aid & Development offers some ways to rethink the way we work. If you’d like me to send you an outline, click here. Or drop me a line, I’d love to chat to you about it.

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