Communities possess inherent capabilities; sometimes they just need to be encouraged.
When a community truly owns its own development, and solutions come from within, the long-term benefits are enormous and truly sustainable. Instead of becoming dependent on outsiders to improve their situation, communities realise what they themselves have to offer and become empowered and independent agents of their own lives and wellbeing. It may take longer and be harder to quantify, but the ongoing advantages are obvious.
Our community health and development work is about building real, trusting relationships. It’s about expanding people’s opportunities and choices, particularly around health, at the village level. In particular, we work hard to make sure that women have genuine and appropriate opportunities to be involved. The community health and development initiatives work hand in hand with our health service provision, as many of the illnesses that we treat are preventable (such as malaria and water-borne infections) and can be reduced as our community activities grow.
In our approach, decision-making powers belong to the communities, and so our work looks different in each village. Our project team works closely with the community to understand the issues and create meaningful, appropriate strategies for change. Activities include educating people about accessing health care in a timely manner, prevention of common health issues such as malaria and HIV, and the importance of safe drinking water. Read more about our approach
Our successful Village Health Advisors (Abahabuzi B’ebyamagara, ABs for short) initiative has an exciting impact on local people as they become empowered and in turn become change agents in their communities. Participating villages vote to elect a number of ABs who then work with our Community Team each month to learn about a different health message - such as malaria prevention, malaria treatment, diarrhoea prevention, etc. The ABs then implement changes in their own households and work with 10-15 other households to do the same. This peer-to-peer process of eduation and change means that people are engaged in their own development. We love hearing stories from the ABs about how their role has impacted their own lives and the lives of their neighbours.