The pathway to self-reliance is paved by unity, information and empowerment. When people living in hunger and poverty are inspired by a united vision of a healthier future, and when they are educated to understand how they can achieve this, the wheels of change begin to turn. When people are empowered to become the solution to their own problems they emerge as courageous, innovative, leaders who create sustainable and lasting changes in their communities.
Developing a united vision is imperative in order to achieve self-reliance. When people have grown up, only ever knowing hunger and poverty, the idea of a better life can seem impossible. By conducting workshops such as our Vision, Commitment and Action Workshops – where we reached almost 200,000 people, through 6,243 workshops, across 10 countries in 2016 – we empower our village partners to understand that a better life is possible for them.
Local volunteers are trained to develop action plans aimed at driving their communities forward. They run workshops and visit people of their villages, sharing visions and educating them on issues they’re directly affected by, such as –
• Food shortage and farming – Families learn to grow food to provide for their families. Farmers learn agricultural techniques that increase their yields – including pest control and resilient crop storage through times of drought.
• Healthcare – people are encouraged to visit medical facilities for health check-ups, testing and treatment. They learn about the health conditions that affect them and how disease can not only be treated but also prevented. As such, stigmas attached to certain health conditions begin to dissolve and healthier communities emerge.
• Clean water and sanitation – people are educated to understand the importance of accessing clean water and using sanitary facilities. Village animators are empowered to approach local governments to see that toilets, water pumps and filtration systems are installed within their villages.
• Women’s equality – women are empowered with an understanding of their legal, educational, marital, reproductive and property rights. They are encouraged to stand-up for themselves (and each other) in the face of discrimination and inequality.
• Education – children (particularly girls) are encouraged to attend and stay in school longer. Families are taught to understand how taking girls out of schools limits their future opportunities and independence. Functional adult literacy programs are offered for those who missed out on early education.
• Government Partnerships – village leaders are taught to form partnerships with local and international governments, traditional leaders and other relevant authorities, in order to act on behalf of the united vision of the people.
By taking a grassroots approach – where village leaders steer the changes within their communities – widespread support is garnered. As belief systems begin to change, new ideas and behaviours arise, and positive outcomes result. Self-reliance transpires as communities continue down this path of growth and improvement at all levels.