Sustainable International Development
Designed to meet the basic needs of developing communities and eliminate the obstacles preventing children from accessing education, WE Villages is a unique sustainable development model made up of five pillars crucial to community development:
WE Villages is currently implemented in Kenya, rural China, India, Sierra Leone, Ecuador, Haiti, Nicaragua and, most recently, Ethiopia.
WE Villages supports community development in areas experiencing a high incidence of child labour, exploitation of children and minimal opportunities for the girl child. The development model is a true partnership with local communities as they are actively consulted and involved throughout the development process.
The government in each WE Villages country determines the curriculum taught in the schools and schoolrooms the organisation builds in partner communities. Standardised tests are typically given in the respective countries where the organisation works, and government-determined curriculum coincides with the test.
In all WE Villages countries, WE Charity partners with the Ministry of Education to ensure that all school-related projects initially implemented by the organisation are maintained over the long-term. For example, the Ministry of Education in Kenya works with School Management Committees (made up of teachers and headmasters of each school) to ensure the schools are properly resourced, maintained and operated.
The government in each WE Villages country pays the salaries of teachers in WE Charity schools. However, in some cases, the community will join together to pay part of the salary for a community-level teacher. In China, for example, through WE Charity’s alternative income and livelihood programming, the community will give some of the income generated from an animal husbandry project to support the salary of a community-level teacher. Salaries vary in each community and each country. Amounts are determined by the government and are reflective of the specific needs of each community and country.
Whether or not WE Charity directly provides lunch depends on each community’s food security situation. For example, during the drought in East Africa, the organisation stepped up to provide full support. This included supporting short-term efforts like providing students with a hot meal for lunch and ensuring nutritional check-ups were conducted at the Baraka Clinic, and long-term sustainable solutions such as agricultural programmes and providing access to clean water through large-scale water projects.
In many of our WE Villages partner communities, WE Charity complements school curricula with agricultural projects, such as working with students to plant kitchen gardens on school property to grow medicinal and nutritional plants and vegetables. The vegetables from these gardens are used to supplement students’ meals in WE Charity schools.
Yes. We believe that education provides the highest return of any social investment. Education is the best way to empower people, especially girls, with the tools, knowledge, strength and confidence they need to promote and protect their own rights, growth and self-sufficiency. Education helps girls, their families, their communities, and even their nations, break the cycle of poverty.
In developing communities around the world, girls have unique challenges in accessing education, staying healthy and breaking free of poverty—but they also provide hope for change more than any other group. In WE Charity’s work around the world, one thing transcends borders: the power of a girl to create positive change.
WE Charity’s support of women and girls:
WE Charity health projects include:
Providing mothers with an income is key to the sustainability of WE Villages. When mothers have a source of income their financial stability is increased, reducing child labour, giving women a sense of empowerment and a voice, increasing women’s capacity and skills and more. By participating in WE Charity’s alternative income and livelihood programming and gaining financial stability, women are able to send all of their children to school for a longer period of time. This has an effect on the children themselves and on the entire community. An educated community is more equipped to lift themselves out of poverty. What’s more, women who participate in alternative income and livelihood programming also increase their capacity and skills—and they pass these skills on to their friends and children.
WE Charity alternative income and livelihood projects are different in each WE Villages partner community. They are based on each community’s culture, traditions, resources, habits, climate, environment, and more.
The projects include:
Yes. In most cases, WE Charity provides communities with the education to become and stay healthy, and in situations where immediate health care is needed, the organisation will refer the patient to a local hospital. We align our health care practices with the government’s national priorities and in many cases work with the government in getting resources and materials to clinics. This ensures that WE Charity does not recreate the role of the government. We work as a partner and do not intend to replace government services in the communities where we work.
The most common illnesses in WE Villages partner communities are respiratory illnesses, water-related illnesses and malaria.
WE Charity takes a number of measures to ensure that these illnesses are not only treated, but prevented. We put an emphasis on education, working with communities to teach them how to prevent these illnesses. In India, for example, we visit families to discuss preventive measures using illustrated health manuals and posters and more. In Sierra Leone, WE Charity has been supporting epilepsy treatment and education programmes. We offer families subsidised and free access to anticonvulsant medication. Our team also provides educational outreach, hosting workshops for community members and other health workers about the causes, effects, and treatment options for epilepsy.
We also initiate preventive projects like chimneys to help eliminate smoke in the home, hand-washing stations in schools to keep students clean and wells and boreholes for safe drinking water.
In some countries, WE Charity provides basic treatment like de-worming and vaccinations, and in Kenya, basic treatment of common ailments.
Our holistic development model, WE Villages, empowers all community members, regardless of gender. In the communities where we work, there is typically a large gender gap in education, with more boys in school than girls. As a result, while our work is not exclusively focused on girls, we do work to increase the number of girls enrolled in school. Our schools are built in the interest of educating all students, not only girls. Our clean water projects, alternative income activities and food security programming engage and benefit entire communities, not only girls and women.
WE Charity clean water and sanitation projects include:
Many of the areas where the organisation works have dry climates. In addition, the communities are facing issues like deforestation, changing weather patterns and global warming. Communities often only have limited sources of water, like a local river, which is used for everything: bathing, washing clothes, drinking source for people, and is also where animals defecate and bathe themselves.
Yes. About one in ten school-age girls in Africa drop out once they reach puberty because they don’t have clean or private toilets to use at school. Ensuring that girls have their own latrines at school is crucial to ensuring girls continue to receive an education.
Sustainability is the goal of all WE Villages’s projects. We work closely with the government to ensure that local community members have real ownership over each WE Villages education project, whether that’s a schoolroom, a school garden or a student environmental club. Community members are involved in each project, helping to construct a school, digging for a water project and more.
In Kenya, communities elect a water management committee that takes ownership of maintaining wells, boreholes and hand-washing stations. In Haiti, the organisation has employed 6,000 people, to date, who have touched our projects on the island in one way or another. In rural China, the community works to construct roads so that material and supplies are able to get through to a build site.
The involvement of the community is crucial to creating and maintaining a sense of involvement, investment and ownership of WE Villages projects. Ownership is what helps ensure our projects are sustainable and maintained in the long run.