Village Health Works 2018
Annual Report

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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. 

 
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Letter from the Founder

Deogratias Niyizonkiza, Founder of Village Health Works

Deogratias Niyizonkiza, Founder of Village Health Works

Dear Friends,

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.

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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,

Deo
Our Model

When we first opened our clinic more than a decade ago, we quickly understood that health care alone could not treat the symptoms of multidimensional poverty. We realized that children needed education to thrive, farmers needed to learn new techniques to feed their families, and our community needed economic opportunity to build a better life. Most importantly, we knew community engagement would be essential to helping repair a broken society and bring stability and hope to the people of rural Burundi.

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Today our programs utilize a holistic approach that not only provides healthcare, but also trains teachers and feeds students, supports farming and livestock co-ops, and sustains community economic cooperatives—programs that help create opportunities and provide the tools necessary to lift participants out of poverty. This is how we deliver health and hope to Burundi.

 

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“To be successful we must look beyond health, to the underlying determinants of health.”

–Dr. Tarek Meguid 

 
 

Our Programs

Hover over the images to learn more about our programs.

Health care

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.

“I make this journey because at the Village Health Works clinic no one shouts at you, they don’t bump into you or shove you, and they treat you like a human. Your campus is beyond my expectations, people are happy and receiving treatment for their conditions quickly and with respect. When the hospital is finished it will bring me joy and comfort.I know that I will be taken care of for this child and every child I have.”   -Alice, who walked two and a half hours uphill while three months pregnant to receive care at the Village Health Works clinic

“I make this journey because at the Village Health Works clinic no one shouts at you, they don’t bump into you or shove you, and they treat you like a human. Your campus is beyond my expectations, people are happy and receiving treatment for their conditions quickly and with respect. When the hospital is finished it will bring me joy and comfort.I know that I will be taken care of for this child and every child I have.”

-Alice, who walked two and a half hours uphill while three months pregnant to receive care at the Village Health Works clinic

 
Community Engagement

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.
Emile Kwizera recently became the director of the Community Engagement Program after serving in the department since 2016. Emile is a poet and musician and believes strongly in keeping the traditions of Burundian culture alive. He is committed to helping the people we serve improve their living standards but believes that to be successful they need to have a solid understanding and grounding in their own culture. He said, “When our culture is weak, we move where the wind blows us. If we do not know where we are from, we cannot know where we are going”.  Emile is committed to continuing to build the community spirit that is essential to our work in the belief that “ Uwawe atsitaye ukumva ko ari wewe utonekaye, ” which translates to  when your friend gets hurt, you feel pain too.

Emile Kwizera recently became the director of the Community Engagement Program after serving in the department since 2016. Emile is a poet and musician and believes strongly in keeping the traditions of Burundian culture alive. He is committed to helping the people we serve improve their living standards but believes that to be successful they need to have a solid understanding and grounding in their own culture. He said, “When our culture is weak, we move where the wind blows us. If we do not know where we are from, we cannot know where we are going”.

Emile is committed to continuing to build the community spirit that is essential to our work in the belief that “Uwawe atsitaye ukumva ko ari wewe utonekaye,” which translates to when your friend gets hurt, you feel pain too.

 

Education

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.

In 2018, Village Health Works and the Kigutu community came together to build a new school. With their own hands, community members cleared and leveled the land, made bricks and even constructed the furniture. In just three months the new school building went from being a dream to becoming a reality. In September of 2018 the school doors opened with 12 new classrooms, which allows for reduced class sizes.   “With the new school, we are happy because there has been a significant improvement in terms of infrastructure, increased number of classrooms, and improved hygiene.”  –Acqueline Niyonzima, School Director

In 2018, Village Health Works and the Kigutu community came together to build a new school. With their own hands, community members cleared and leveled the land, made bricks and even constructed the furniture. In just three months the new school building went from being a dream to becoming a reality. In September of 2018 the school doors opened with 12 new classrooms, which allows for reduced class sizes.

“With the new school, we are happy because there has been a significant improvement in terms of infrastructure, increased number of classrooms, and improved hygiene.” –Acqueline Niyonzima, School Director

 

Food Security & Economic Development

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.

Village Health Works fosters economic development in our community through cooperative agriculture and trades programs coupled with educational and financial skills training. Gerard Nizigiyimana, the leader of the beekeeping collective, has been supported by Village Health Works since 2014 and today he sells 500 kilos of honey at market each year.   “These bees allow me to support myself and my family. Education about the proper beekeeping practices helped me build hives properly, make enough money to sustain myself, and, now, even start a business!”

Village Health Works fosters economic development in our community through cooperative agriculture and trades programs coupled with educational and financial skills training. Gerard Nizigiyimana, the leader of the beekeeping collective, has been supported by Village Health Works since 2014 and today he sells 500 kilos of honey at market each year.

“These bees allow me to support myself and my family. Education about the proper beekeeping practices helped me build hives properly, make enough money to sustain myself, and, now, even start a business!”

Kigutu Hospital and Women's Health Pavillion
After slightly over a decade of work, we have made substantial progress on our ambitious goal to provide access to dignified health care to those who live in our catchment area and the surrounding region. Despite these successes, we currently lack the surgical capacity to adequately care for patients requiring emergency surgery, in particular women facing complications during delivery. In the case of a difficult delivery or a life-threatening accident, the only options are a 45-minute ride to a hospital often lacking essential services, such as electricity and water, where a surgeon is likely not present, or a three-hour journey over extremely rough terrain to the capital city.

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In these conditions, patients we are unable to help frequently do not survive. We are building the Kigutu Hospital and Women’s Health Pavilion to stop these premature and preventable deaths.

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.

Dr. Tarek Meguid, an obstetrician, gynecologist and social justice advocate, joined Village Health Works in 2018 as Country Director and Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Meguid brings more than two decades of working in hospitals in Malawi, Namibia, and Zanzibar. He is now applying this experience to prepare the clinical infrastructure and team for the opening of the Kigutu Hospital and Women's Health Pavilion.

Dr. Tarek Meguid, an obstetrician, gynecologist and social justice advocate, joined Village Health Works in 2018 as Country Director and Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Meguid brings more than two decades of working in hospitals in Malawi, Namibia, and Zanzibar. He is now applying this experience to prepare the clinical infrastructure and team for the opening of the Kigutu Hospital and Women's Health Pavilion.

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.

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Hospital Services & Facilities

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Kigutu International Academy
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Alongside our state-of-the-art hospital, VHW is launching the Kigutu International Academy (KIA), a grade 9-12 boarding school that will produce a new generation of problem-solvers, change-makers and entrepreneurial leaders for Burundi.

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.

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Architectural plans are in place for KIA’s initial building—the Knowledge Commons—an innovative learning environment that will house science labs, a maker-space and flexible spaces for classes, group work and school-wide gatherings.

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.

We warmly welcome Clare Korir as Educaton Program Manager. Clare hails from Kenya and brings invaluable experience, having graduated from Barnard College and taught at African Leadership Academy and African Leadership University. Clare joins Liz Gips, the Executive Director of KIA, in bringing the Kigutu International Academy to life.

We warmly welcome Clare Korir as Educaton Program Manager. Clare hails from Kenya and brings invaluable experience, having graduated from Barnard College and taught at African Leadership Academy and African Leadership University. Clare joins Liz Gips, the Executive Director of KIA, in bringing the Kigutu International Academy to life.

World-Class Instruction

  • 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

21st Century Skill Building
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Financial Summary

For the year ended December 31, 2018.