Pick and Sirkin show how IMIFAP, a Mexican NGO, has employed a development strategy to encourage the establishment of a participatory, healthy and educated citizenry. The program strategy is grounded in Amartya Sen's approach to sustainable development through expanding individual's capabilities and freedoms. It presents the Framework for Enabling Empowerment (FrEE) and the step by step strategy "Programming for Choice," based on the practical experience and evaluation of IMIFAP's programs. The end goal is to achieve sustainable community and individual development that can be expanded across a variety of life domains (social, economic, political, education, health and psychological). The book shows how community development can be enhanced if people are enabled to make accountable choices and expand their alternatives. International development efforts will not be sustainable if we continue to build schools without quality teachers; health clinics without enhancing logistical and psychological access and improving quality of care; and laws that are not enforced. Institutions will only flourish if their leaders and bureaucrats enhance their personal capabilities.
The central premise of the book is that enhancing skills, knowledge and reducing psychological and contextual barriers to change are central (and often neglected) aspects of sustainable development. IMIFAP was founded in 1984. Through its health promotion and poverty reduction work it has reached over 19 million people in 14 countries through over 40 different programs and over 280 educational materials with support from over 300 funding agencies and government and private institutions. Its mission is to enable society's poor and vulnerable to take charge of their lives through helping them develop their potential. We have found that through the IMIFAP "I want to, I can" programs people take the control of their lives in their own hands. Examples of these results are presented including numerous testimonies.