Our Development Model

Sustainable International Development


kenya graduation
educator girl


Free The Children’s WE Villages

We want a world where all children—girls and boys—have access to education and where no child has to work to ensure their family’s survival.

Poverty isn’t the result of a single cause. The issue is complex and rooted in a number of correlated social and economic obstacles. If you only tackle one issue, regardless of the money and resources you invest, the cycle of poverty will persist.

That’s why we created an international development model that addresses the five primary causes of poverty with holistic and sustainable solutions that work in tandem to transform communities.

We call this program WE Villages.

It’s holistic, it’s sustainable, and it works.

WE Villages is an adaptive, effective five-pillar model built on 20 years of experience collaborating with dedicated community members and international development experts to find solutions that work.

WE Villages’ five pillars are:

  • Education
  • Water
  • Health
  • Food
  • Opportunity

Each pillar is a critical component in breaking the cycle of poverty.


Why These Five Pillars?


Education

It starts with schooling.

If we’re going to talk seriously about ending child poverty, we need to talk about education. Giving a child an education is the best way to set them up for success and break the cycle of poverty.


Water

Children—especially girls—can only attend school if they have access to clean water. It frees girls from the daily task of collecting water for their families, and prevents waterborne illnesses that make children sick and unable to go to school. So we work with communities to provide sustainable clean water solutions like wells and hand pumps.


Health

Children can only attend school if they and their parents are healthy. Clean water is one solution, but families also need access to health care, and programs that teach disease prevention and healthy living. So we partner with communities on health initiatives like clinics and vaccination programs.


Food

Children can only attend school if they are well fed. Hungry, malnourished children are at best inattentive, at worst, sick. Made possible by founding partner PotashCorp, we work with communities to provide programs that promote food security and improved agriculture, like school gardens and irrigation projects. This ensures communities have better access to healthy food, and food to sell, improving economic outcomes as well.


Opportunity

Children can only attend school if their parents have the financial means and time to invest in their education and their basic health. So we teach parents, often mothers, skills such as animal husbandry that help them generate an income and accrue savings.

How WE Villages Works

Here’s how WE Villages is changing lives and transforming communities.

  • It’s holistic. We know that poverty is a complex problem, and no issue or solution stands alone. We work through five key development pillars—Education, Water, Health, Food, and Opportunity—which provide solutions that support and amplify each other.
  • It’s led by the community. Our partner communities take ownership of the programs and projects that create lasting change. Working in tandem with local government, they devote time and resources to every new initiative, and help keep the project running when it’s finished.
  • It builds capacity. We help community members develop the skills, strategies and infrastructure to take charge of their future and maintain long-term change.
  • It connects communities. When you support WE Villages, you become part of a global family. We connect partners and supporters in North America and the UK with communities overseas to build relationships that inspire change worldwide. And through our social enterprise partner ME to WE, you can take volunteer trips to meet and work with your partner community.
  • It’s transparent. We’ve invited third-party experts and the brightest analytical minds in the world of international development to look at our model from every angle. They confirm that our solutions are effective and built to last.
  • It’s sustainable. Our goal is to reach a point where our partner communities don’t need our help any more. Instead, they have the training and tools to thrive for generations. In other words, we’re in the business of putting ourselves out of business.
kenya graduation

“In eight countries, WE Charity works alongside the men, women and children who every day strive to free themselves from poverty, exploitation, disease and thirst. This effort is not charity. It is sustainability. It is freedom in action. It is WE Villages’ development model.”