Maybe you’ve heard that, in addition to disaster relief and other important work, World Vision is involved in “Community Development.” And maybe you’ve wondered exactly what that means. In the relief and development world, community development generally means improving conditions within a group of people alongside that group of people.
We especially love this definition from the Community Development Exchange:
“Its key purpose is to build communities based on justice, equality and mutual respect. Community development involves changing the relationships between ordinary people and people in positions of power, so that everyone can take part in the issues that affect their lives. It starts from the principle that within any community there is a wealth of knowledge and experience which, if used in creative ways, can be channeled into collective action to achieve the communities’ desired goals.”
That collective action with communities looks like a whole host of different things… food, water, education, health programs, supporting local businesses with micro-loans or access to larger markets—ALL with the goal of a community’s sustainability in mind. The goal is to create a thriving, independent, self-sustaining community together with that community.
Does community development still sound abstract and impersonal? Here’s more:
We Support the Hungry…So that they can feed themselves.
Could we hand out food? Sure. And we do in situations that are especially grim, like disasters—but that’s relief, not development. It meets the present need, but if that was all we did, what would happen if we left? People would go on being hungry.
Instead, development, looks like working with community volunteers to identify healthy children in the community and learn best practices from that child’s parents that can be combined with best practices in nutrition and farming. World Vision works alongside these community volunteers to share these insights with families in the community whose children are malnourished and to help them implement these learnings in their daily lives. Not only are children becoming healthier, but families are developing a sense of pride in their abilities to keep their families healthy and strong!
We Work Alongside the Thirsty…So that they can drink freely.
Imagine walking four miles every day of your life through tough terrain to gather your daily supply of water. And once you arrive, you scoop dirty, disease-ridden water out of a muddy creek bed. You use this water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. Sabina, a mother of three living in Kenya, lived a life exactly like this. As a child, she never even attended school because she didn’t have time – she spent most of her time fetching water. As she grew older, she carried 70 pounds of water on her back every day from the creek bed to her home. She even made the trek the day she gave birth. Sometimes her children fell ill to disease because of the water.
Then, World Vision completed an irrigation system that provided Sabina and her neighbor with water spigots. Clean water. Accessible water. Now, Sabina’s children have time to attend school. And now, Sabina and her family live free from the fear of water-borne illness.
We Educate Learners…So they know their rights and can be their own advocates.
Because her family lacked the funds to support her, Khoun Kheo stopped going to school after second grade. In a village in Laos, Khoun now attends a literacy class through World Vision where she is learning how to read and write – two skills that will dramatically improve the quality of her life. When men and women learn to read and write, they can read laws, regulations, and loan agreements. As informed citizens, they can protect themselves and their families from oppression and contribute to society in new ways.
We Connect Local Businesses to Greater Opportunities…So that business owners can support their families.
In Rwanda, a woman named Angela owns a small clothing business. Her town lacks the infrastructure to help her business grow. She can’t walk to a bank and take out a loan to buy new equipment. In spite of these obstacles, Angela is determined to improve her business and provide for her children. World Vision pairs entrepreneurs like Angela with loan opportunities by introducing a donor in the US to Angela via programs like World Vision Micro. Through a small donation, this donor is providing funds to help Angela get her business up and running. Angela will now be able to support her family and contribute to the growth of her local economy as a result.
We Teach Health and Hygiene Practices…So that families can thrive!
Rowena, a mother of five, lives in the Philippines. In her community, it is not uncommon for a woman to birth 10 children. Because traditional practices neglect aspects of nutrition and disease prevention, children are often sick. Thankfully, mothers and community members can learn better hygiene practices through classes taught by World Vision. Parents learn things like sanitation and basic health care and prevention. Rowena can now provide for her family’s health in ways she couldn’t before, and she teaches others to do the same.
We take a holistic approach to helping a community stand on its own two feet. Through food, water & sanitation, health interventions, education, and economic opportunities, World Vision’s community development model is designed to improve the lives of the children and families, as well as future generations as they step out of poverty, and into a healthy future.