“Our strengths are in our actions – when we look, listen and learn. Strengths are not things – strengths are the good actions of how we live and treat each other.”– Elder Roy Bear Chief (Blackfoot, Siksika Nation)
Solutions Lie In Strengths
August 9 is International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Seva is honored to have worked alongside indigenous communities for four decades, co-creating interventions that advance access to critical eye care. Throughout our journey, we’ve practiced “a strengths-based approach,” which studies in the Health Education Journal* confirm is essential to advancing health equity of indigenous populations.
Historically, public health research on indigenous communities has often taken a “deficit-based” approach, focusing on health issues/disparities within a community to find solutions. A strengths-based approach finds and builds on the innate abilities of a community or individual to promote positive health outcomes. Studies of indigenous communities from Alberta, Canada, as well as Seva’s partners around the world, emphasize the importance of centering on indigenous voices, perspectives, beliefs, and relationships (among other factors), and honoring self-determination when designing healthcare programs.
With an estimated 476 million indigenous people across 90 countries, speaking 7,000 languages and representing 5,000 different cultures, a strengths-based approach to health care for one community may differ from another. Yet, at Seva, we believe that lasting and culturally-competent interventions for any one person begins by listening, co-learning, and collaborating with all. Read on to learn a few ways we create a strengths-based approach to eye care around the world, including indigenous peoples.Continue reading