Village Health Works’ mission is to provide quality, compassionate health care in a dignified environment while also addressing the root causes of illness, poverty, violence, and neglect.
Letter from the Founder
One of my most vivid memories of 2018 is from the summer, which I spent working with the Kigutu community to build a new primary school. There were some who said that it wasn’t possible to build a 12-classroom school in three months. I knew, based on our fourteen years working together, that we could do it. With very little money (less than $200,000), we gathered daily to clear new land, pour foundations, build light-filled classrooms, a teachers’ meeting room and director’s office, and install running water and bathrooms—yielding a facility five times the size of the dilapidated structure that used to house over 500 students in the Kigutu community school.
I beam with pride every time I see another picture of school children who themselves are radiant with joy, focused on their work, growing more confident, more inquisitive, and happier before our eyes. They are the future—and the future is full of hope.
Part of that hope is another landmark project, the Kigutu International Academy, our grade 9-12 boarding school slated to open in the fall of 2020, bringing to Burundi an innovative curriculum and experiential learning that will produce a new generation of problem-solvers, change-makers, and entrepreneurial leaders.
Our growth is happening every day, as demonstrated by the Kigutu Hospital and Women’s Health Pavilion. 2018 has been a year of steady progress and palpable promise for this transformative project. By 2020 we will be seeing our patients in this state-of-the-art teaching hospital under construction in one of the poorest and most remote places on earth. How can we not take enormous pride in that? All of us! When I see the second floor slab taking shape, or the intricacies of the lab being designed and outfitted, I can easily imagine the daily life-saving activities and training of local healthcare professionals that will soon be a reality.
Think of what you are helping us to accomplish—and the impact we are making together!
As you read this annual report and see the photos of our team and community, I am hoping you will have a picture of the hard work we have accomplished this past year. I’m thinking of Dr. Jean Baptiste, treating Alice, a woman who walked 24 miles to be seen at our clinic by someone she trusts and cherishes. Gerard, who over five years has been a beekeeper supported by Village Health Works, who not only teaches others but successfully supports his family with the proceeds of honey sales. And Dr. Tarek, bringing decades of hard-won field experience and zeal to prevent women from dying needlessly in childbirth and to scale our clinical capacity for generations to come.
To all of you who sustain us with your skills, your counsel, your sweat and hard work—and your generous financial resources—I say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I also ask you to stay with us to ensure our limitless potential in this fight for dignity and hope!
Our focus is on training future generations of leaders for Burundi and beyond. With your compassionate support we will continue down the road towards that future. Please know that your involvement is much appreciated!
With gratitude and admiration,
“To be successful we must look beyond health, to the underlying determinants of health.”
–Dr. Tarek Meguid
Hover over the images to learn more about our programs.
We work in an area where the lack of access to routine procedures, basic sanitary and reproductive health education, and health personnel often leads to preventable and premature deaths. Our health care programs confront those challenges through prevention and treatment.
Village Health Works was founded with the aim of facilitating trust and empathy among the people in our catchment area and beyond. Through agricultural cooperatives, community volunteer days, activities run by our Community Health Workers, and the learning done inside and outside the classroom, we seek to heal divisions and promote peace. Over the last decade, we have watched interconnection and civic engagement grow among community members, from our local leadership to the children of Kigutu.
In a country with some of the lowest education levels in the world, we have created a model of success in Kigutu. Working in partnership with the government school, we have improved learning and health outcomes for over 700 young people through a wide range of programs that include health care screenings and a feeding program, ongoing professional development for educators and regular parent engagement.
Malnutrition, poor health, and economic disenfranchisement are inherently intertwined. Village Health Works helps people break out of this vicious cycle by promoting cooperative agriculture and enterprise programs. The products of our co-ops increase food security for our community members while also helping to feed patients in our clinic and students in our school.
The hospital is a 150-bed, 85,000 square foot teaching hospital and is scheduled to open in 2020. When it opens it will provide inpatient medical and surgical care for 10,000 more patients and be able to safely deliver 2,000 babies every year, immediately saving lives. Our future plans include the introduction of clinical services not readily available in Burundi, such as cancer care, and the development of medical specialties like cardiology and neurology, while maintaining a continued focus on maternal health and strengthened surgical capacity. We will set a new standard for care in Burundi by ensuring that the services we provide are dignified and patient-centered. This will include private delivery rooms, supporting fathers to contribute to the care of mothers and newborns, and social work and mental health services. This higher level of care will dramatically reduce mortality, lead to healthier babies and children, and build stronger family bonds.
We will also use the hospital to train and educate the future of Burundian medicine. Today, post-graduate medical education is not widely available in Burundi, leading to the emigration of too many talented doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers. Our hospital will offer clinical professionals the opportunity to receive hands-on training and gain critical skills in their own country. These activities will evolve into accredited medical education programs to address the lack of physician specialists, midwives, and allied health professionals. Connections between graduates will grow into a network of practitioners working together to improve the health care delivery system in Burundi.
Expanding Our Reach
The hospital will be at the center of an effort to transform Burundian medicine through creating, and then leveraging, clinical partnerships. We will:
- Provide training and education for the next generation of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals while creating a platform for collaboration with other centers of care.
- Provide ongoing professional skills training for regional healthcare professionals.
- Create local jobs for more than 200 health staff and provide invaluable training, education, and continual professional development for doctors and other healthcare workers.
KIA will provide an outstanding secondary school education for youth from across Burundi. KIA will recruit a diverse cross-section of boys and girls with strong academic performance and a track record of leadership in their communities, including young people from Kigutu.
Using innovative curriculum and world-class instruction, KIA students will gain preparation in core academic subjects as well as develop vital 21st century skills, such as critical thinking, entrepreneurship and leadership. KIA plans to welcome its inaugural class of 30 students in September 2020.
KIA will extend its impact through the Teacher Leadership Institute (TLI). The TLI will offer a range of short courses for teachers and school leaders in Burundi and beyond using KIA as a lab school where educators can observe and practice innovative teaching techniques. The TLI will also draw upon the local Kigutu school as an important model of improved teaching and learning.
- Active teaching with students at the center of learning
- Technology tools to individualize learning
- Interdisciplinary and experiential learning
Pathways to University
- English as the primary language of instruction
- Small classes taught by experienced international educators
- Solid grounding in traditional subjects