is to provide quality, compassionate health care in a dignified environment while also addressing the root causes of illness, poverty, violence, and neglect.
Village Health Works brings hope to Burundi through a holistic model. In partnership with community members, we focus first on treating and preventing illness through primary health care services. We then integrate education, sustainable agriculture, and economic development programs.
Our campus in Kigutu - the heart of our operations - is home to a primary health care clinic, pre-school, and demonstration gardens, and through outreach we provide services throughout 18 surrounding communities. Our comprehensive programs serve more than 200,000 men, women and children.
A readily available health care facility saves lives, strengthens families, and stabilize a community. As such, providing access to quality health care is at the core of our mission in Burundi. More than 20,000 community members visited our clinic in 2016, seeking treatment for diseases such as malaria, diabetes, and depression. In particular, there is a dire need for expanded neonatal and obstetric care in Burundi, and we are uniquely poised to respond. We have begun construction on a 150-bed surgical and training hospital on our campus which will provide essential and emergency obstetric and surgical care, with a focus at opening on maternal and newborn health. We serve as a health provider that community members can rely on, no matter the challenge.
VHW's health impact includes...
High-quality education is the foundation for improving people's lives and alleviating poverty. In Burundi, schools are inadequate and under-resourced, leading to abysmal enrollment and attendance rates for students. At Village Health Works, we work in collaboration with the community to improve the quality of education for all students through newly initiated student support services, increased opportunities for parent engagement, increased community access to learning materials, and strengthened teacher training. The education program has made considerable progress in training, and currently supports a dedicated team of 33 teachers. In order to bring about sustainable, systemic change to education in Burundi, we will continue to train teachers, improve classroom curriculum and expand on existing academic enrichment programs while also improving our school infrastructure to provide the instructional hours that students need to excel.
The need for quality education in Burundi is great:
Last school year, VHW's Education Program served...
The overarching objective of the VHW agriculture program is to assist with preventing malnutrition as well as to generate income through the sale of livestock and produce. Since the program’s inception in 2014, Village Health Works has made an effort to increase impact through effectively promoting crop diversification and sharing key farming techniques to assist with fruitful harvests. In cooperation with the clinical program, the crops harvested from the on-site demonstration gardens are used to feed patients and their families through the clinical meal program. In a country with desperate malnutrition and food insecurity, it is immensely important that we can directly grow and directly provide nutritious food for our clinic patients, as well as directly feed the youngest, most vulnerable preschool children. When food harvests are abundant, community farmers can also consume or sell any excess they have beyond their immediate household needs.
In 2016, VHW's agriculture programming ensured that...
Poverty and poor health are strongly intertwined. In Burundi, where nearly 65% of the population lives in poverty, many families are trapped in a cycle of poverty with poor health, little or no education, and limited hope for the future. Our economic development programs address the cycle of poverty by empowering community members with skills and tools to start small businesses. Cooperatives such as sewing, baking, and basket weaving allow men and women to generate incomes while providing important services and products to the community. We strengthened our economic development programs in 2016, adding a tailor to the sewing program and a baker who helped us open a baking cooperative that has since expanded to 4 localities. With input from community members, we plan to expand our efforts to increase the number of participants across these diverse programs.
VHW's Economic Development Program by the numbers:
Our community engagement is the link through which we establish trust and develop solidarity with a broad spectrum of community leaders and organizations. Our meaningful community connections help us provide services that are culturally relevant and responsive to community-defined priorities. Our community engagement team has also supported on-site infrastructure projects by recruiting local community members for construction, which keeps income within the community and helps families cover expenses. Every Friday, community members come to Village Health Works and volunteer to help with various community projects. Recent projects have included repairing the road to our clinic and planting grevaria trees along the riverbank near the hydro-electric plant to prevent erosion. VHW also sponsors community cultural events, where community members will dance, sing, and perform for everyone. These are very joyous events! The community has repeatedly demonstrated their commitment to our mission and with their support we have grown our programs, reaching more patients and students each year.