Our mission is to prevent disability and to improve the lives of children with disabilities in a sustainable way. Sustainable in the sense that the work and activities continue unhindered after Karuna leaves. To achieve that we work by the following principles:
People develop themselves
To achieve a better quality of life for people with disabilities, the community also has to change. Acceptance and knowledge should be anchored in the community. Karuna aims to inspire local leaders to take responsibility for the marginalised members of their community and to let them participate. It is crucial to train those local leaders and to develop their capacities. Adults and children with disabilities can be strong role models. We believe in the power of people, and would like to strengthen this power and promote solidarity. Karuna’s role is to be a facilitator, motivator and capacity builder.
This also means that communities are requested to mobilise financial resources locally. After all, if the costs and organisational efforts are higher than what can be effectuated locally, it will not work. A high sense of ownership ensures that leaders and other community members feel responsible and motivated to change.
Replicable and scalable
“If it is not scalable, it is a hobby”, says Nanno Kleiterp of the Dutch Development Bank FMO. Replicability makes a development project sustainable. Projects and models should be implemented as simple and cost-effective as possible, so that people in other places can be inspired by them, and follow the example to take action on their own.
The replicability of a project is important, not only because it generates the most impact, but also because it is fairer. If we implement good but expensive projects, these cannot be followed by other communities and this would bring further inequality.
Entrepreneurial spirit is in the blood of Karuna as an organisation (read more at ‘about us’). A programme should be simple, cost-effective, replicable and results oriented. The principle characteristic of an entrepreneurial approach is that there is a strong focus on the exit strategy, straight from the beginning of the project. In other words focusing on self-reliance.
Therefore, as soon as Karuna enters a community, we investigate the readiness of the leadership to take responsibility. If that is not present, then it is likely to fail. We appoint one person who takes responsibility for the whole programme. If a community turns out not to embrace the programme, if the leaders don’t take responsibility, or if the conditions are not fulfilled Karuna stops the funding and the support. In such situations, a programme cannot be continued in a sustainable way.
Do no harm
We always keep the do-no-harm principle in mind: damage as a consequence of suspended projects or unutilized schools or clinics has more impact than is regularly assumed. This also damages people’s trust in development. To continue if conditions are not fulfilled can be more harmful than quitting, on the long-term.
Read more about how these principles are used in the models Karuna developed.