Summer Internship Opportunities
Village Health Works Summer Internship Opportunities
All internship positions for the summer of 2014 have been filled.
An Evening of Giving
In light of the recent challenges faced by so many in the New York metropolitan area, we have elected to postpone the Village Health Works’ Cocktail Reception previously scheduled for Thursday, November 15th.
At our core, Village Health Works’ embodies community, and we know that the communities of New York and New Jersey need this time to heal and rebuild. Our thoughts are with all who were affected by the storm and we will continue to keep those who have suffered in our hearts and minds.
We are looking at the last two weeks of January as possibilities and will be in touch soon with a confirmed date.
While we are sorry we will be unable to gather together next week, I encourage you to keep Village Health Works’ in mind as we enter into the holiday giving season. Your support goes such a long way, permitting us to partner with the people of Burundi to provide health, hope and a brighter future for all.
Most sincere thanks for your friendship and support,
Director of Development
Other Ways To Help
JOIN THE VILLAGE HEALTH WORKS LEGACY SOCIETY
By making a gift through your will or estate plan, you can preserve a legacy of hope and health in Burundi and beyond. Click here to download a form that will let us know of your generosity. No additional documentation is required.
DONATE FREQUENT FLYER MILES
A Message from Sarah & Kris
Thank you for considering making a donation to Village Health Works in honor of our wedding.
Village Health Works is a non-profit corporation dedicated to bringing quality, compassionate health care to those who need it most. Its pilot project is the construction and operation of a community health center in Kigutu, Burundi. The organization was founded by Kris’s friend Deogratias “Deo” Niyzonkiza, a native of Burundi and the subject of the book “Strength in What Remains” by Pulitzer Prize winning author Tracy Kidder.
Kris first became involved with Village Health Works in early 2006. He and Deo were taking a break from the rigors of medical school and sharing a drink at a local bar in Lebanon, NH. During the conversation, Deo began to talk about his plans to open a health center in his native Burundi. He subsequently invited Kris to join him that summer on a trip to Burundi to continue planning and preparation for what is now the Sharon McKenna Health Center in Kigutu, Burundi.
That shared drink proved life changing for Kris. Barely two weeks after he started dating Sarah, in June, 2006, Kris departed for a five-week trip to Burundi. Once there, he joined Deo, and several others (including fellow medical students, physicians, and an architect), all working to bring quality health care to Kigutu. Each day revealed new tragedies but also increasing confidence that dignified, quality health care could be provided in Kigutu. Perhaps most impressive was how the people of Kigutu, all of whom lacked the traditional elements of power – money, connections, etc – were able to, through hard-work and dedication, bring about incredible change in their community with modest assistance from outside.
The story of the road to Kigutu is a good illustration of this. Towards the end of a trip with many successes, a stumbling block was encountered. The road leading to the health center was too narrow and rough for heavy trucks to pass and bring construction supplies to the newly acquired VHW property. Deo contacted a Belgian construction company to inquire if they could do the job. They provided an estimate of $50,000 to complete the task, which was many times greater than we could afford. Dismayed, Deo related the challenge to the community leaders, expecting a long delay before sufficient money could be raised to start the project. ‘What are you talking about?’ one of those in attendance asked. ‘We are not poor because we are lazy. We will fix the road.’
Over the next few days, scores of community members gathered with their children on their backs and farm tools in their hands to work. Little by little, using the power of their combined effort, Kigutu villagers widened and resurfaced 6 km of dirt road by hand. One woman who came to work had a very sick child on her back. When asked why she was there with the sick child instead of seeking medical care, she responded ‘My last child died, my child before that died also, and this child might die too. There are no good options for medical care now for those of us who have little money. I hope that if we make this road and build a clinic, that perhaps my future children will live.’
A few days after the people of Kigutu completed the road, the Belgian construction company called back with a lower offer. ‘Never mind,’ Deo replied, ‘the work is already done.’ ‘What? How?’ They responded. ‘We are the only company in Burundi that can do this work.’ To this, Deo memorably responded: ‘Not anymore.’ Less than a month later, a large truck brought the first load of construction supplies to Kigutu and construction began on the Sharon McKenna Health Center.
Having witnessed both the overwhelming need for better health care and incredible potential for positive change in Kigutu, Kris shared his stories with as many people as possible upon returning to the US. Sarah, Kris, and several of their medical school classmates began spreading the word about the amazing things happening in Kigutu to various community organizations as well as raising money for the project in and around Hanover, NH. Two of Sarah and Kris’s classmates even organized a dance marathon that raised enough money to build a water tank and filtration system, which now provides the health center and the community with clean drinking water.
Kris (with the support of Sarah, and many others) continued to spread the word about VHW as he could during medical school and his family medicine residency. Finally, in August, 2011, Kris was able to return to Kigutu, now as a physician, and volunteer in the health center for a month. The change in the community over the five years between Kris’s two visits was incredible. A small patch of land on a hilltop in a remote region of one of the poorest countries in the world had been transformed into a center of health, learning, and commerce. In addition to providing dignified health care to all who come wanting, regardless of their ability to pay, VHW now has a comprehensive program that seeks not only to cure disease, but also to eradicate the conditions that lead to disease, especially the extreme poverty that pervades Burundi. VHW partners with local schools to improve educational opportunities for children. They provide classes on diversifying crops and sustainable farming practices to improve people’s access to nutritious food. They help with the organization of co-ops that help farmers and craftsman bring their goods to market and buy needed supplies. They organize soccer tournaments with educational programs aimed at preventing the spread of HIV. They partner with the government to provide comprehensive treatment programs for HIV, TB, and malnutrition.
The scope and impact of the project is staggering and the progress in just a few years has been incredible. While Kris was serving at the health center in 2011,
the president of Burundi visited Kigutu to lay the first brick of what will become a women’s health pavilion. The completion of this pavilion will allow VHW to expand its services to include advanced obstetric care, advanced newborn care, X-ray services, and dental care. It will be a huge step forward to decreasing maternal and newborn mortality in the Kigutu area.
We hope you will consider exploring the VHW website to learn more about this incredible organization and its many projects. Please also consider a donation in honor of our wedding in lieu of a traditional gift. Even a small donation can have a large impact. Five dollars covers the cost of a mosquito net that prevents a life-threatening infection with malaria for a pregnant woman or young child. Twenty-five dollars pays for a round of immunizations for 10 children. A little over one hundred dollars can supply a family with seeds and supplies needed for a home garden to grow nutritious food for an entire growing season. And, a little over six hundred dollars covers the cost of about a week’s worth of medications for the entire health center.
Thank you. We look forward to celebrating our wedding with you.
Sarah and Kris
Mothers Day in Burundi
This Mother’s Day, Village Health Works invites you to celebrate the mothers in your life by honoring mothers all around the world. Make a donation to Village Health Works and we would be happy to send a personal note or e-card alerting the recepient(s) you choose to honor. (Please just note the names and preferred contact information of your honorees in the "Comments" field of the donation form.) With your help, more mothers will be able to celebrate what all moms want—a healthy family and bright future.
Co-Op Photo Gallery
The Women's Co-Op
Janette learned to sew while living as a refugee in Tanzania. In 2009 Janette returned to Burundi with her three children, working as a seamstress to support the family. Given the uncertain economic conditions, Janette’s husband works in Tanzania while Janette lives in Busimbwa Peace Village, a settlement for repatriated refugees. Village Health Works hired Janette as a sewing trainer in November 2011. A founding member of the Women’s Empowerment Co-operative for sewing, 25-year-old Janette will provide nine women from her catchement area with critical skills and will help facilitate the development of new designs and concepts.
Originally from Gitega, Gloria joined Village Health Works as a weaving trainer in June of 2011. A single mother, Gloria has been supporting her self, and now her young son, by weaving beautiful baskets, which she has done since she was 16 years old. Gloria learned her craft from her mother and aunt, secretly at age six. From bracelets to baskets, Gloria’s designs share a respect for tradition and a willingness to experiment. Today, she is excited that her skills will help others improve their conditions.
Age 60, Lives in Kigutu
Isidonie is married and the mother of eight children. She says, “My daily life is very difficult; I don’t have enough land to feed my family. I hope that being a member of the soap making co-op I will improve my life.”
Age 18, Lives in Karirimvya
Aline says, “I went to school until 5th form but I didn’t continue because I had poor vision. Before joining the soap-making co-op, I used to cultivate my family’s small land. Now, I’m getting skills in soap and candle making and it will be very helpful in my life.”
Age 30, Lives in Mugara
Adonette is married, with four children. She and her family have recently returned from Tanzania after fleeing the war. She says, “My husband and I cultivate land for other people in order to feed our children but we don’t get such work every day and we don’t have our own land to work. Now I’m in the soap-making co-op - it’s a huge opportunity for me because I hope to improve my life and the lives of my family.”
Age 22, Lives in Karirimvya
Honoree is married with one daughter. She says, “I have studied only in primary school; when my parents died I was forced to leave school. I went to cultivate the family land to grow food for my young brother. Now I’m a member of the soap and candle making co-op. It’s a huge opportunity for me because I get skills which will be helpful for my whole life.”
Age 26, Lives in Mugara
Clementine is married with four children. She says, “I only attended school until the 6th form. My husband and I originally came from Bururi commune, far away from where we now live. We had to come to Mugara because we were displaced during the war. Now we have problems getting land. Being in the soap and candle-making co-op is the only source of hope in my life.”
Age 60, Lives in Mugara
Marie has five children who are all married; she lives with only her husband. She says, “My husband and I are repatriated refugees from Tanzania. It is a great task to figure out how to feed our selves. Now I’m among the soap and candle makers - Long life to VHW!”
Age 32, Lives in Mugara
Lea says, “I’m divorced and have four children with me. It’s very difficult for me to feed my children and to send them to school. I’m a member of the soap making co-op and I can now foresee a bright future for all of us.”
Age 40, Lives in Mugara
Pelagie is married and the mother of six children. She says, “even though I didn’t get to go to school during my childhood, it has been wonderful for me to learn new things today. I’m a soap and candle maker.”
Age 21, Lives in Kigutu
Speciose says, “I’m divorced and I have three children. I live with my parents at our home land. My three children and I depend on my mother to live. The co-op is a big opportunity for me to get skills, which are very important to my future and the future of my three children.”
Age 20, Lives in Kigutu
Esperance says, “I didn’t get the chance to go to school so I’ve only had the opportunity to cultivate our land. Now I’m one of the soap and candle makers at Kigutu, thanks to VHW and all of its supporters.”
Age 35, Lives in Kabwayi
Triphonie is married and the mother of five children. She says, “In our locality we live by agriculture, but now it’s not easy to get enough food. I heard during volunteer work at the clinic that there would be new co-ops at VHW, Kigutu. I’ve chosen weaving and now I’m able to make bracelets and baskets…In the future I expect to be able to solve many challenges facing my family.”
Age 35, Lives in Kigutu
Chantal is married with five children. She says, “I have never been to school and I don’t know how to write or read because of the war. My husband and I do not have a source of income other than what we make cultivating our small piece of land. I’m now one of the weaving co-op members and we are learning to make many things. I hope those beautiful things we are making will reach all over the world.”
Age 18, Lives in Kigutu
Celine says, “I’m single and only studied until the 4th form. I gave up because of my eye problems. Since leaving school, I have been helping to cultivate our family land but now I’m happy to be one of the weaving co-op members because I’m getting helpful skills. I’m happy, also, to have something in my life that I can maybe teach other people someday.”
Age 54, Lives in: Kigutu
Liberate is married and has four children. Liberate says, “My husband is handicapped and can’t work. I do my best to feed my whole family myself, which is not easy. When I heared that there would be co-ops at VHW, I said to myself that even if I’m old, I will go and try my best to be selected. Now, I’m one of the weaving co-op members and I expect to know very well how to weave and improve my life.”
Age 43, Lives in Kigutu
Hellene says, “I have five children. I’m a repatriated refugee from Tanzania and my husband is still living there. I’m with only my children now and though we got land to build our house, we got no land to cultivate. Many times we pass the whole day without eating. Now with the co-op, our future is bright. I hope I will be able to support my family.”
Age 52, Lives in Kigutu
Monique is married with twelve children. She says, “I’m a repatriated refugee from Tanzania. Now, I’m one of the weaving co-op members. I joined the co-op in order to improve my life. I expect to be developed and have something to sell in our country and overseas.”
Age 18, Lives in Kigutu
Yvette just gave birth to her first child and surprised us all by coming back to work just one week after! She says, “My daily work is to cultivate our land and before, I did not expect to have any other things to do. But now, I’m one of the luckiest people because I’m in the weaving co-op. Even though we’ve only worked three months, we already earned money! I expect to have a good life in the future and a strong co-op.”
Age 53, Lives in Kigutu
Mathilde is married and has ten children. She says, “My whole life, my daily work has been to cultivate. My husband and I didn’t think about planning our family and now we have trouble feeding our children and finding money for school fees. I rely on my co-op to help me face our many challenges. I now have new friends in the weaving co-op and I know I can get their help if I’m ever in need.”
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Spring 2012 Internship Opportunities
Village Health Works is currently seeking dedicated individuals for the following positions:
Administrative & Development Interns - Village Health Works is seeking detail-oriented interns to help in the New York City office with regular administrative responsibilities. Interns need to be available during regular business hours for a minimum of 15 hours per week and should be able to commit for three months. Strong communications skills, knowledge of Microsoft Office, patience, and flexibility are critical for this position. Interested applicants should complete the general volunteer and intern application form found here. Please be sure to submit a copy of your resume when prompted as part of the application.
Translators – Village Health Works is currently seeking an experienced French-English translator to assist with translations of documents such as training manuals, research materials, communications, and work orders. Translators may be needed on specific dates for intensive short-term projects or on short notice to translate documents. Interested applicants should complete the general volunteer and intern application form found here. Please be sure to submit a copy of your resume when prompted as part of the application and to also include a sample of previous translation work.
VHW Women's Cooperatives
Thanks to the support of the US Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, VHW developed our Women’s Cooperatives to provide employment, training and social support to local women, including gender-based violence survivors.
Currently employing about 45 women, the co-ops are comprised of sewing, weaving, soap-making and baking groups. All profits made go directly back to the women of the co-ops.
To help support, you can purchase goods made by the cooperatives here:
Meet The Women Involved
Click the image above for a look into the lives of some of the women involved.
News and Stories
Click the image above to take a look at our gallery.
This funded in part by the U.S. State Department Office of Population, Refugees and Migration.