How to Teach Health: Providing Quality Primary Healthcare to Impoverished, Rural, Isolated Communities

By John Straw, Executive Director at Concern America and Instructor for the Village Earth Community-Based Health online course

Village Earth’s Community Health course focuses on the many challenges, but also opportunities, related to health care (or the lack thereof) in materially impoverished regions of our world.  The course explores a range of insights and actions from methods for determining health needs to creating community-centered approaches for bringing care with/for regions lacking this important human right.  One hopeful program is Concern America’s Health Promoter Practitioner model.  The organization has just self-published a 35-book set of training manuals and student guides in Spanish titled “Cómo Enseñar Sobre La Salud” (How To Teach Health), a resource for organizations wanting to implement comprehensive community health programs in which the people themselves are the health care providers.  The books will soon be sold through The Hesperian Foundation, publisher of the well known resource “Where There Is No Doctor.”

THERE EXISTS A MODEL OF COMMUNITY-BASED, PRIMARY HEALTH CARE THAT IS AFFORDABLE AND EFFECTIVE.  IT IS A MODEL THAT ENGAGES COMMUNITY MEMBERS IN ITS PROVISION: “THE TRAINING AND ACCOMPANYING OF HEALTH PROMOTER PRACTITIONERS”.

In the U.S., the term “health promoter” often refers to individuals who provide health education and basic health care follow-up under the strict supervision of a medical doctor.  In the regions of Latin America where Concern America works, these Health Promoter Practitioners’ depth of knowledge, skills, and ability to provide primary health care, in their native languages, is comparable to the work of physician assistants and nurse practitioners in the U.S.  As a result, in villages located hours away from health care centers and whose residents earn less than $2.00/day, high-quality, low-cost health care is a reality, saving and sustaining innumerable lives, using few resources.

In places like Chiapas, Mexico; Petén, Guatemala; and the Lower Atrato region of Colombia, the health care providers who give daily care in hundreds of villages and towns are not doctors or nurses but rather Health Promoter Practitioners.  These amazing community health care providers, many with less than three years of primary school, have been successfully trained as their communities’ medical practitioners who diagnose and treat patients, administer a wide range of medicines, and even perform surgeries like the tendon repair described above.

The series of books, entitled CÓMO ENSEÑAR SOBRE LA SALUD, employs the wisdom of Paulo Freire’s pedagogy, building on each student’s knowledge and understanding when teaching complicated medical concepts and procedures. There are 35 books in all and three levels of training: a teacher’s guide and a student handbook for each health care theme (e.g., Digestive System) taught over three years.   What is described, presented, and taught in CÓMO ENSEÑAR SOBRE LA SALUD has been fashioned by and in use by Concern America field teams in Latin America over more than 30 years and found to be extraordinarily effective in providing quality primary health care to impoverished, rural, isolated communities.  We want to multiply this model, which is why Concern America is writing CÓMO ENSEÑAR SOBRE LA SALUD.  It will eventually be translated into French and English and, hopefully, adapted to many indigenous languages.

 

FIRST LEVEL OVERVIEW

The Teacher Guides

Each First Level Teacher’s Guide covers important topics such as:

  • How to organize a course and how to teach Health Promoters
  • How to organize community groups
  • How to teach about the use of medicines
  • How to teach about respiratory and digestive diseases
  • How to teach about nutrition and environment

Student Handbooks

Each reference book for the Health Promoter student contains informative documents about how to prevent, diagnose and treat the most common sicknesses and when to refer a patient.

  • The language is simple.
  • The illustrations are clear.
  • The treatment and diagnostic guidelines are easy to understand.

SECOND LEVEL OVERVIEW

Teacher Guides

Second Level Teacher Guides cover the following topics:

  • How to teach about accidents and traumas
  • How to teach about reproductive health
  • How to teach about pregnancy and delivery
  • How to teach about chronic diseases
  • How to teach about dental and oral care

Student’s Handbook

  • The language is progressively more complex.
  • The graphics are explicit and educational.
  • The treatment and diagnostic guidelines are still easy to understand and to adapt.

ELECTRONIC ANNEX

AND THIRD LEVEL OVERVIEW

An Electronic Annex is included with the Teacher Guides. It is an educational tool where the teacher can find:

  • Pictures to project and ready to use Power Points documents
  • Sounds to listen to and recognize symptoms
  • Videos
  • Ready to print games, tests/evaluations and worksheets
  • Ready to print Student Handbooks with and without page numbers, giving flexibility to the teacher to build one’s own customized Student Handbook
  • A PDF of each one of the Teacher’s Guides and Student’s Handbooks from the “Cómo Enseñar Sobre La Salud” series
  • Third level handouts

THE ESSENTIAL MEDICINE INDEX

A vital part of the series “Cómo Enseñar Sobre La Salud,” the Essential Medicine Index (Índice de Medicamentos Esenciales) is THE REFERENCE BOOK of medicine for Health Promoters.

Its very simple and easy to read format and content makes it an indispensable every day tool for beginners and advanced Health Promoters. It contains information about the most prescribed essential medicines. It contains information about the most prescribed essential medicines recommended by the W.H.O.

 

For more information or to purchase the books, please visit Concern America Health Manuals.

To enroll in the Community-Based Health Course click here. Now enrolling through February 28, 2017.

2017 Online Courses are OPEN for Registration

All Spring 2017 online Sustainable Community Development Certificate courses are open for registration. The deadline to register for the first session is January 9, 2017.

January 13 – February 17, 2017

March 3 – April 7, 2017

April 21 – May 26, 2017

 


SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT

Next Offered Deadline to Register Registration Status Offered By
January 13 – February 17, 2017 January 9, 2017 Open

Course Description

One of the biggest challenges we face in today’s global economy is the alleviation and ultimate elimination, of poverty. Unemployment, lack of economic opportunities and the inability to provide for one’s needs and those of one’s family, lead to destructive consequences at the individual level and can lead to crime and armed conflict at the social level. While the latest development theory recognizes the importance of entrepreneurship and micro-enterprise generation in combating poverty, providing employment and increasing income, in order to address poverty at the grass-roots level, we need to explore the intersection of traditional business concepts with social venturing. This course aims to provide an understanding of social entrepreneurship that will help us put theory into practice in a meaningful way.

This course will examine entrepreneurship and enterprise generation as a key foundation of the development of both economic and social capital, as well as individual and community empowerment. Its main emphasis will be the exploration of entrepreneurship with an imperative to drive social change and build sustainable ventures. Its focus will be on designing enterprises for the base of the economic pyramid in the context of disadvantaged communities. We will participate in the unfolding dialogue about what constitutes a “social entrepreneur”, develop an understanding of the power of “disruptive innovation”, and study success stories from around the world, thereby gaining valuable insights into how to develop our own enterprises.

This course will require critical thinking, be highly interactive, and students will share their experiences, ideas, insights and challenges. Participants will be able to apply the learning from this course to their own start-ups and field projects.

Instructor:

Vinod Parekh

Social Entrepreneur, Proprietor of Human Development Services, Consultant Trainer and Mentor of several companies, visiting and online faculty at Colorado State University, Independent Director Man Diesel and Turbo India, World traveler.

I began my career in Sales and Marketing and then went on to be with BBC UK and trained as a Broadcaster before I discovered my passion for people development. I continue to be a student of Personal, Organisational and Community Transformation. Education: Organisational Development (OD) Chicago USA, Psychology Major: University of Nagpur, India. Marketing Management at NTC, Calcutta, India. Early Career: Radio and Television Broadcasting, BBC, London, Glasgow, Director Community Development Projects of the Institute of Cultural Affairs International, Chicago, USA an affiliate of the UN.

Current Responsibilities:
• Director-Human Development Services & Human Development Consultants and Trainers-A management consultancy- leadership training and development enterprise which specializes in conducting management alignment, team building, personal and organizational effectiveness enhancement programs for public, private , academic and voluntary sectors.
• Chairman-Unnati Enterprises – A Socio-Economic Enterprise dedicated to empowering rurban communities particularly youth;
• Mentor -Teaching Learning Community of Small & Medium Scale entrepreneurs;
• Visiting Faculty at: Maharashtra Police Academy, India International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), Colorado State University ,USA; Several Management Colleges and Institutes including Bharati Vidyapeet Institute for Management studies and Research, Moonje Mgt Institute, Mahatma Gandhi Management Institutes (MBA program) of the University of Pune, India Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and Tuljapur;
•Independent Director- MAN Diesel Turbo

Previous Positions:
• Marketing Director-Communication Services, Hyderabad, India.
• Consultant / Trainer- Institute of Cultural Affairs-International, Chicago USA.
• Director Community and Village Development Projects, Maharashtra-India
• Project Director-Community Development Programme, Lusaka, Zambia.

Areas of Expertise:
•Designing and facilitating needs based training and development programmes aimed towards personal, organizational/community transformation using the Technology of Participative Management (ToP)
•Bridging intercultural gaps.

Passion: Traveling, interacting with people.

My MISSION – To equip individuals, communities and organizations (for and not for profit) with practical mindset change techniques and soft skills tools towards enhancing their overall effectiveness. My VISION – Personal and organizational/community transformation.


APPROACHES TO COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Next Offered Deadline to Register Registration Status Offered By
January 13 – February 17, 2017 January 9, 2017 Open
April 21 – May 26, 2017 April 18, 2017 Open

Course Description

Explore both the structure and practice of community development around the world.  Engage in a critical analysis of different approaches to community development, their historical development and underlying assumptions.  Gain an understanding of the structural and practical issues that promote or detract from the goal of community empowerment.

Instructor:

David Bartecchi, M.A.

Dave received his M.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Colorado State University and has worked with Village Earth since 1998.  He is now the executive director of Village Earth.  Since 2000 he has been working with grassroots groups on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to recover lands for community-based bison restoration. He has also worked with the indigenous groups in Peru and Ecuador and trained and consulted on community-based development projects in in Azerbaijan, Armenia, India as well as with Native American tribes in California and Oklahoma.  He has been an instrumental part of several research projects with CSU’s Department of Anthropology including a 6 year longitudinal study of the informal economy on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota funded by the National Science Foundation, a survey of farmers and ranchers participating in the National Conservation Reserve Program conducted by CSU’s Natural Resource Ecology Lab and funded by the USDA, and community-based censuses on the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Reservations in South Dakota. Dave teaches online courses in Approaches to Community Development, Community Mobilization, and Community-based Mapping.


COMMUNITY-BASED FOOD SYSTEMS

Next Offered Deadline to Register Registration Status Offered By
January 13 – February 17, 2017 January 9, 2017 Open

The cultivation, preparation, distribution, and consumption of food are practices that shape how we organize ourselves socially, economically and politically. Control over food is central to the sustainability and self-determination of communities. In this seminar, you will learn about different approaches to building community-based food systems and movements for food justice around the world. Together, we will evaluate various strategies for protecting community food resources and rebuilding local food economies, as well as the factors that threaten these efforts. With special consideration for marginalized communities in the global North and South, students will develop a conceptual toolkit and set of resources to help them assess the limitations and possibilities of their own community’s food system.

Instructors:

This course is facilitated by the International Agroecology Action Network (IAEAN) a consultancy group composed of ultra-motivated scientists willing to work hard to change the world. Although we are all agroecologists, we combine our diverse backgrounds and skills in order to dynamically implement sustainable and effective projects. Our pool of available consultants offer a wide range of skills and competences. We seek to improve society through our actions and research and we believe that both grassroots and top-down approaches are necessary to drive systemic change. Our members are currently involved in international organizations, private companies, development associations and in academic spheres.

Tourism “business as usual” is Broken: Reflections on the Global Tourism Industry

ethical issues with tourism

By Cynthia Ord, Tourism and Development Online Course Instructor

Tues Nov 8 is an important date for Americans – the federal election will determine our new president. Meanwhile, across the pond in London, it’s also a big day for the global tourism community. Nov 8 will mark the 10th annual World Responsible Tourism Day, celebrated as part of World Travel Market (WTM), one of the biggest annual trade shows of the industry.

At face value, the WTM trade show looks a lot like “business as usual”. In a huge conference center, reps from big-name travel brands network with public tourism boards and deep-pocketed destination marketing organizations (DMOs, in travel-speak). Execs strike deals. Thought leaders deliver keynotes. PR agents pitch puff pieces to the travel media elite. Costumed “Mayans” from the Guatemala booth and “Carnival” dancers from the Brazil booth parade around the corporate suits in a charade of authenticity.

But tourism “business as usual” is broken.

Only a fraction of tourism dollars reach the destinations themselves. The quality of service jobs created for locals is low. Overcrowding degrades the travel experience. Tension flares up between hosts and visitors. Biodiversity suffers. Climate change alters destinations. These are just few of the challenges we face as the runaway global travel industry speeds up to 2 billion annual tourists spending $2 trillion yearly by 2030.¹

Take a deeper look at the WTM and, fortunately, you’ll also find a group that faces these challenges head-on. They organize the Responsible Tourism Day events. I’ll be spending Nov 8 at the WTM learning and celebrating on that bright side of the trade show. Here are a few highlights from the World Responsible Tourism Day schedule that I’m looking forward to:

Responsible Tourism Awards
Out of 13 finalists, five awards will be granted for the following categories:
Best accommodation for responsible employment
Best contribution to wildlife conservation
Best innovation by a tour operator
Best for poverty reduction and inclusion
Best responsible tourism campaign
An overall winner will also be announced.

I’ve spent countless consulting hours this past year researching all the different responsible tourism awards schemes out there, and the WTM award is arguably the most illustrious and competitive. This is one election whose candidates I can really get excited about. Sure to be a glamorous affair!

Keynote Speaker Doug Lansky
Doug Lansky, travel writer, tourism industry advisor, and author of the thought-provoking new visual book TRAVEL: The Guide, takes us on a journey to find the Holy Grail of tourism: sustainable, profitable, and authentic travel.

Captivity, Wildlife and Tourism
Over the last year increasing concern has been expressed about the use of wildlife in tourism with campaigns focused on elephants, lions and orcas. Three panelists will consider these campaigns and reflect on how successful they have been.

This topic is near to my heart, as I spent several months in Thailand this past year examining the thorny issue of elephants in tourism. I compiled a guidebook on the subject called Elephants in Asia, Ethically: Humane Experiences with Asia’s Sacred Animal. Several of my collaborators on the book will be presenting at this discussion panel.

Other panel discussions on the Responsible Tourism agenda include:

  • Responsibility and resilience: how can tourism be more resilient?
  • Human rights in tourism
  • Responsible “better” volunteering
  • Disintermediation and destination management
  • Communicating responsible tourism: advocacy and marketing
  • Enhancing the tourist experience in Africa
  • Climate change and tourism

These are the issues that face local communities in the destinations that, as travelers, we often either love to death or fail to consider. It will be a busy few days for me at the WTM, and I’ll be thrilled to pass on my new knowledge and insights as instructor of the course Tourism and Development. Now enrolling through November 1.

Introduction to Humanitarian Assistance for Community Workers and Funders

According to Good Humanitarian Donorship, Humanitarian Assistance is broadly defined to mean the action designed to save lives, alleviate suffering and protect human dignity during and in the aftermath of man-made crises and natural disasters, as well as to prevent and strengthen preparedness for the occurrence of such situations.

Humanitarian assistance in the international arena vastly differs from domestic emergency response within the United States.  As a field unto itself, humanitarian assistance also differs greatly from shorter-term disaster response in scope, objectives, and duration.  In addition, the field encompasses codifying norms, international standards, and critical concepts that exist to maintain humanitarian principles, ensure quality intervention, and create sustainable improvement.

After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, over 400 medical teams arrived to assist communities in need. Only a tiny fraction of teams were able to identify or plan intervention strategies and programs utilizing international humanitarian architecture or standards. This lack of knowledge translated into failures in communication, coordination, and usage of resources with direct implications for populations affected.

This problem is neither new nor has it been adequately addressed over time. Several studies, ranging from 2001 to present have reported that a dearth of nongovernmental organizations responding to disasters offers any teaching or orientation prior to departure. Authors and practitioners have put forward a critical call to action for improved accountability, well-defined core competencies, and greater quality control.  With appropriate and tailored training, practitioners will have exponentially improved efficiency, impact, and sustainability. In turn, these professionals better share expertise with local and national staff who remain, as always, the first-responders in their communities as they build themselves toward resilience and self-reliance.

In addition, the underlying circumstances necessitating pre-departure education of humanitarian workers have been intensifying. For example, the complexities of urban disasters require multi-sector coordination, community stakeholder engagement, and division of scarce resources more than ever. There are increasing risks and threats to humanitarian aid workers and less room for inexperience, waste, and error. Compassion in and of itself is not enough, however, compassion coupled with knowledge, guided by experience, and directed into effective action leads to substantive effective change.

If you would like more information and want to better inform your humanitarian efforts, consider enrolling today in our Introduction to Humanitarian Assistance Course.

Sustainable Community Development Online Course Schedule Through the End of 2016

Online Training in Community Development

“For 26 years, I had worked with an international NGO assigned in several countries but I must admit that despite these years of doing development work, it is only now that I have a deeper understanding of what community-based development should be.”  — Course Participant

The following courses are open for registration between now and November 1st 2016. These courses are offered as part of our online certificate program in Sustainable Community Development in partnership with Colorado State University.

Click on the courses below to register by September 13. Spring 2017 courses will be posted by September 15, 2016.

September 16 – October 21, 2016

November 4 – December 9, 2016

Students can enroll in just one course or complete all four courses to receive a Certificate in Sustainable Community Development.  We also offer specialized tracks for those who would like their certificate program to focus in on a particular subject area within the field of sustainable community development.

Using Local Networks in Humanitarian Disasters: A Guide for Aid and Relief Workers

This article was originally published in the Oxford Public Health Journal August 2016 edition by our colleagues over at emBOLDen Alliances.  If you are interested in learning more about using local networks in humanitarian disasters please join us for two courses taught by emBOLDen Alliances in our Sustainable Community Development Certificate with a specialization in Humanitarian Assistance.

Now enrolling for Introduction to Humanitarian Assistance and Humanitarian Assistance Toolbox.

 

On 25 April 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake with an epicenter in the Gorkha District of Nepal caused severe destruction in 14 of the country’s 75 districts. Two weeks later, on 12 May, another quake of 7.3 magnitude hit with a more eastern epicenter, and worsened the humanitarian situation. According to the United Nations Dispatch, the earthquake and subsequent aftershocks affected approximately 5.6 million people, killed 8,891 people and displaced approximately 2.8 million.

Within days of the earthquake, relief flooded into the country and an estimated 100 international search and rescue and medical teams immediately dispatched to provide emergency relief and to help prepare for recovery. As the earthquakes affected predominantly remote mountain villages, rescue and humanitarian operations took place in extremely challenging terrain. Local knowledge and networks were critical in minimizing further death and damage and maximizing delivery of life-saving resources.

This is the story of several exemplary Nepalese who acted immediately to help their fellow citizens. Their response assisted countless individuals and invaluably directed international aid efforts.

The Earthquake
group photo.p2p4

The day of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Nepal, Ang Tshering Lama, owner of Ang’s Himalayan Adventures, was about to launch off on a river trip on the Trisuli River about three and a half hours from Kathmandu, when everything around him began to shake, rocks started to fall from the cliffs above, and brown clouds of dirt filled the air. The earthquake continued for a seemingly long time with continuous aftershocks. He immediately packed up his crew and clients and rushed back to Kathmandu. On the drive back, Ang and his rafting crew had to clear through landslides as the massive destruction caused by the earthquake became clearer. “It was dark at night, there was no electricity, it was just with the lights of the car, but I could see [the destruction].”

Recovery in Kathmandu

Ang arrived in Kathmandu at 1:30AM, and after ensuring that his mother, who had been alone in his apartment, was okay, he quickly realized that although none of his neighbors were hurt, no one had eaten. Ang had been expecting a big earthquake to come at some point and had kept a store of emergency food. He fed 15-25 people that night with Wai Wai (Nepalese noodles) that he cooked on his camping stove. As a mountaineering guide, he had extra tents and parachutes to use as shelter for those who had lost their homes or were too frightened to sleep inside due to the many aftershocks. He felt scared at times, but he tried to stay calm. “ I couldn’t stand seeing the plight, I knew I needed to help.”

To the Mountains

In the days after the earthquake, money for relief efforts began trickling in to Ang. Previous clients and Nepali friends living abroad started to send money to him and said: “Go. Your people need your help.” Then more and more people started sending money, and in Ang’s words, “then, we went big.”

Sherap Sherpa, owner of Wild Tracks, also knew that he had to get to the mountains to help his fellow villagers. Sherap lives in Kathmandu, but he is from a small village of 26 households 148km north from Kathmandu, near the Tibetan border. He tried calling his family for five days after the earthquake. When he was finally able to get through, he learned that everyone in his small village was fine, but many peoplep2p4n had lost their homes and were in need of medication and daily essentials. Sherap started by going to the local market in Kathmandu where he bought 20 tarpaulins, rice, cooking oil, and plastic containers for water. However, he had no idea how to transport the supplies as the roads were buried, and it was impossible to even hike to the village. Then he received a call from a friend who flies for Dragon Air who said that his friend who worked for Search and Rescue Technical Rescue (SRTR) in China was flying into Kathmandu to help. Could Sherap meet them at the airport?

Meanwhile, Ang’s response effort was also quickly escalating. He started to work closely with his good friend from Nepal Kayak Club and within a week after the earthquake hit, he had started to make trips out to Sindhupalchok District with other outdoor trekking guides to bring food and supplies. “We had this whole team of kayakers, rafting guides, mountaineers, so we blended in. If we had to climb a mountain, we did it.” Through his connections with the mountaineering world, he connected with Person 2 Person 4 Nepal, a national grassroots movement and with emBOLDen Alliances, a non-profit based out of Colorado, to transport duffle bags filled with temporary shelter and supplies up to remote villages in the mountains. They called themselves the “Grassroots Gorillas”.

Then Ang received a call from Ming Serpa, a Nepali American Nurse associated with a Nepali-American Nursing Association who said that her organization wanted to send four nurses from the United States. With those nurses as well as local Nepali nurses, Ang and his team of mountaineers and river guides, traveled to 15-20 villages in Sindhupalchok, where they provided medical care, distributed food and supplies and trained villagers on proper hygiene. This work required traveling to very remote villages, negotiating challenging terrain, and executing helicopter evacuations of wounded patients. But, for Ang and the Nepalese medical team, they took these obstacles in stride with focus and determination.

Meanwhile, Sherap was headed for the districts of Nuwakot, Sindhupalchok and Rasuwa with SRTR. Through SRTR, Sherap met another international relief organization that he assisted with medication and supply deliveries. While assisting this organization and coordinating with several other international organizations, Sherap was also able to deliver the first round of aid to his own village and its two neighboring villages using helicopter and road transportation.

Sherap also helped to build temporary learning centers in Syabru Bensi of Rasuwa District in-coordination with Head Master Madhav Lamichhane of Shri Shyame Wangphel Secondary School. With help from another international organization, he brought tents to setup a temporary hostel for 40 resident kids in the same school, setup clean drinking water facility for the kids, and provide solar rechargeable lamps. Without Sherap to guide these international resources appropriately, the school children may have suffered waiting or may never have been reached.

Local Networks

Both Ang and Sherap work in the tourist guiding industry and have a deep understanding of the complexities of Nepali culture and language. Their knowledge and skill helped them to respond to the April earthquake with flexibility and speed. “For westerners, it’s hard, because they have to do a lot of logistics, they have to do the research first, and that takes time you know. Whereas I go on word of mouth from people whom I know and trust: ‘This many people are killed, this many are injured and this is all gone’. Then we say: ‘Okay we are coming,’ and this is how we do it. We don’t have to have a team go and do all of that scrutiny first…you know, write it down, evaluate the situation, etc. We knew that everything was gone, everyone’s homes are gone,” explained Ang. He continued: “In Nepal, it is not like America, it’s through word of mouth. ‘Do you need our help? Okay, we are coming’.”

Jiban Ghimire who also worked very hard with Ang on the Person 2 Person 4 Nepal effort, agreed: “I would say [that a] bigger organization has bigger issues [which] means red tape. But we had smooth supply [chain] without any disturbance. To be honest, I was very fortunate as [a] Nepali to support my people on behalf of our team whom we worked together without borders & boundary twenty four-seven.”

Because of their work hostelin the tourism industry, all of these men had contacts in and direct knowledge of the affected areas. For Sherap, he would call hotel owners that he knew from motorcycle tours and ask them what they ne
eded, how badly people were affected, and if there was an accessible road for them to get there. He would then post that information on Facebook to let others know. Within the next three to four days, he would get supplies from friends in India, who were also a part of his same motorcycle club, Friends of Royal Enfield (FORE), and he would be off to the villages in need with the supplies and with Nepali members of his club.

Understanding of the culture and language of Nepal also played a huge role in their nimble response. According to the 2011 Nepalese Census, 123 languages are spoken in Nepal. Sherap speaks 9 of these, helping him to communicate quickly with those in need. Additionally, knowledge of the complex caste system in Nepal helped Sherap and his friends identify priority towns, know with whom to speak within communities, and identify those who may be voiceless. For example, when Ang learned from his local connections that a delivery of rice had been given to a household that already had significant stockpiles, he had the rice recalled and given to a household that had none. Most agencies may have just walked away, checking the household off their distribution list off, but here, local insight directed this limited resource most appropriately.

Continuing On

Both men are still working on projects in affected areas. Sherap and his motorcycle club are working to rebuild a health center in Dubachour. The previous health center was devastated in the earthquake, and after speaking with the locals, it was clear that they wanted a primary care center. They already had the land and an agreement signed with the Ministry of Health, however due to the current political crisis and boarder blockade from India, his team cannot get supplies across the boarder to build the center. Sherap also plans to work with an international relief effort to bring in engineers from Macau and rebuild 27 homes in Thalo village of Sindupalchok.

Ang too is hindered by the current political crisis. He is working in Sindhupalchok to rebuild a school and has all of the materials ready, but due to the fuel blockade, he cannot yet transport the materials.

Both men were motivated by a great need to help their fellow countrymen: “I couldn’t stand seeing people suffering, I tell you…I am not religious, [but] for me, religion is helping people [laughs]. At the end of the day, it gives me good sleep,” says Ang. For Sherap, he feels that if we don’t help, no one else will. He feels the government is practically hopeless in Nepal. “We have to help, because these our people, they belong to our country…if we don’t help them, who will?”

Lessons Learned

IMG_1437

Local knowledge, generosity, local language and culture, and deep-seated compassion are priceless in any situation, and particularly during disasters. Ang, Sherap, and Jiban were able to spring into action the moment the earthquake hit using their connections and knowledge to understand where the most affected areas were and what was needed. They mobilized resources from clients and partners around the world to effectively and efficiently deliver aid to those most in need.

As a final word of caution for the next disaster, Jiban states: “We have to have basic supplies ready to move first [during an emergency]. You guys should collect money rather sending unusable stuffs. I found [that overall from everything I saw come in], 35% of relief goods coming from USA could not be used. [It seemed that] some people were just clearing out their garage.”

 

 

Acknowledgements

P4N and emBOLDen Alliances’ Nepal response.Emily Lawrence, Ang Tshering Lama, Sherap Sherpa, Jiban Ghimire, Liesl Clark, Julie Hull, Jake Norton, Bill, Rohs, Matt Murray, Patti Bonnet, Neena Jain, and ALL of the scores of individuals who contributed.

Photo credits: Person2Person4Nepal, emBOLDen Alliances, Sherap Sherpa

A Different Way of Thinking About Development, Praxis and Humanization

Sustainable Development Training

Sustainable Development Training

Around the world, wealth is measured in many ways. There is  a diversity of  definitions of what it means to be well-off, for example, the country of Bhutan has a measurement of Gross National  Happiness as opposed to the usual Gross Domestic Product as a measurement of how well a country is doing.  Development always entails looking at other worlds in terms of what they lack, and obstructs the wealth of indigenous alternatives. Instead of the never-ending concept of “development”, many of the indigenous movements of Latin America have adopted an Aymara concept called suma qamaña–living well, not better.

So then what is development when we at Village Earth use the phrase?  We see development as a process of humanization, a part of the decolonization process outlined by great thinkers like Fanon, Escobar, and Freire. It is not a paternalistic ‘we feel sorry for you’. And through a Community Praxis Model we practice “reflection and action upon the world in order to transform it”. Oftentimes, do-gooders are the elite in themselves defining development and it’s their dialogue.  So how do we encourage and promote the dialogue of local indigenous conceptions of development? Through community-based solutions and social movements.

If you would like to learn more about these concepts, please join us for upcoming courses such as Community Mobilization, Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation, and Participatory Water Resource Management. Now enrolling through July 26, 2016.

Learning to Create Resilient Communities

All of Village Earth’s Sustainable Community Development Certificate courses ultimately focus on building resilient communities.  We often hear of climate change resilience, and we have a whole class that focuses on Building Climate Change Resilient Communities, but what does it mean beyond the all-encompassing threat of climate change?

Resilience can be generally defined as the capacity for a community to absorb stresses and maintain function in the face of external stresses imposed upon it and adapt, reorganize, and evolve into more desirable configurations that improve the sustainability of the system, leaving it better prepared for future impacts.  Through our various courses we address ways that we as community members and outside allies/external activators can help communities become more resilient.  For example, community mapping can be an important tool to both visualize external stresses and evolve their way of thinking spatially.  Dispute Resolution is another important tool to mitigate conflicts and learn to adapt through conflict resolution methods.  And learning about different approaches to community development gives us a theoretical understanding of how things came to be as well as practical tools we can use in our work.

To learn more, check out our Sustainable Community Development Certificate courses now enrolling through June 7.

New Village Earth/CSU Course – Humanitarian Assistance Toolbox: Resources for Best Practices

Due to the positive response from our inaugural Introduction to Humanitarian Assistance online course, Village Earth is pleased to announce our second course in the Humanitarian Assistance specialization Humanitarian Assistance Toolbox.*  This course is being offered in collaboration with EmBOLDEN Alliances and is a part of Village Earth’s and Colorado State University Online’s Sustainable Community Development Certificate Program. Now enrolling through November 1, 2015.

Given the basic knowledge and understanding of Humanitarian Assistance, this course provides participants the opportunity to explore various toolkits and standards used throughout Humanitarian Assistance with both breadth and depth.

Participants will gain an understanding for standard resources and guidelines that have been created to ensure and maintain human dignity, quality of life, impactful and sustainable service delivery, and sustainability of response through recovery and resiliency.

This course will provide participants an introduction to tools necessary to engage in humanitarian assistance more effectively. By providing participants the opportunity to examine and understand international standards and guidelines, participants will gain an improved ability to deliver impactful and coordinated action that benefits individuals and communities.

Upon completion of this course participants will be able to:

  • Identify critical international guidelines used in Humanitarian Assistance.
  • Explain the creation of SPHERE, its significance and utility.
  • Discuss inter-sectoral collaboration in relation to recent emergency contexts.
  • Recognize key tools for needs assessments.
  • Relate international standards to monitoring and evaluation of programming.
  • Describe mainstreaming for vulnerable populations in emergency contexts.

This course will be taught by Neena Jain MD MSTPH DTM&H, who for over twenty years has thrived in international Humanitarian Assistance and Global Health as Program Manager, Country Medical Director, Health Sector Lead, and Technical Advisor with many international nongovernmental organizations throughout Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. These agencies have included Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders, International Medical Corps, Australian Aid International, and Save The Children, among others. She is the current Executive Director of emBOLDen Alliances. Dr. Jain was Board-certified in Emergency Medicine in 2001 and practiced as an Attending Physician at Swedish Medical Center and Denver Health Medical Center Emergency Departments. She developed programmatic structure and taught core content using innovative techniques as Director and Deputy Director for the Program in Humanitarian Assistance and Adjunct Faculty for the Global Health Affairs Program at the University of Denver Korbel School of International Studies.

*While it may be helpful to have some prior knowledge in the field of humanitarian assistance, it is not required to have taken any other course in this series before taking Humanitarian Assistance Toolbox.

New Course & Specialization on Humanitarian Assistance in our Online Certificate Program at CSU

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In response to demand from participants around the world, Village Earth is pleased to announce our new Introduction to Humanitarian Assistance online course, which counts toward our new certificate specialization in Humanitarian Assistance.  This course is being offered in collaboration with EmBOLDEN AlliancesNow enrolling through July 26.

According to Good Humanitarian Donorship, Humanitarian Assistance is broadly defined to mean the action designed to save lives, alleviate suffering and protect human dignity during and in the aftermath of man-made crises and natural disasters, as well as to prevent and strengthen preparedness for the occurrence of such situations. Humanitarian assistance in the international arena vastly differs from domestic emergency response within the United States. As a field unto itself, humanitarian assistance also differs greatly from shorter-term disaster response in scope, objectives, and duration. In addition, the field encompasses codifying norms, international standards, and critical concepts that exist to maintain humanitarian principles, ensure quality intervention, and create sustainable improvement.

After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, over 400 medical teams arrived to assist communities in need. Only a tiny fraction of teams were able to identify or plan intervention strategies and programs utilizing international humanitarian architecture or standards. This lack of knowledge translated into failures in communication, coordination, and usage of resources with direct implications for populations affected.

This problem is neither new nor has it been adequately addressed over time. Several studies, ranging from 2001-2014, have reported that a dearth of nongovernmental organizations responding to disasters offers any teaching or orientation prior to departure. Authors and practitioners have put forward a critical call to action for improved accountability, well-defined core competencies, and greater quality control. With appropriate and tailored training, practitioners will have exponentially improved efficiency, impact, and sustainability. In turn, these professionals better share expertise with local and national staff who remain, as always, the first-responders in their communities as they build themselves toward resilience and self-reliance.

In addition, the underlying circumstances necessitating pre-departure education of humanitarian workers have been intensifying. For example, the complexities of urban disasters require multi-sector coordination, community stakeholder engagement, and division of scarce resources more than ever. There are increasing risks and threats to humanitarian aid workers and less room for inexperience, waste, and error. Compassion in and of itself is not enough, however, compassion coupled with knowledge, guided by experience, and directed into effective action leads to substantive effective change. This course will provide participants an introduction to the knowledge necessary to engage in humanitarian assistance more effectively and sustainably. By providing participants the opportunity to examine and identify key components, participants will have a better understanding of humanitarian architecture as well as the ability to improve coordination and implementation of programmatic interventions.

This course will be taught by Neena Jain MD MSTPH DTM&H, who for over twenty years has thrived in international Humanitarian Assistance and Global Health as Program Manager, Country Medical Director, Health Sector Lead, and Technical Advisor with many international nongovernmental organizations throughout Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean. These agencies have included Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders, International Medical Corps, Australian Aid International, and Save The Children, among others. She is the current Executive Director of emBOLDen Alliances. Dr. Jain was Board-certified in Emergency Medicine in 2001 and practiced as an Attending Physician at Swedish Medical Center and Denver Health Medical Center Emergency Departments. She developed programmatic structure and taught core content using innovative techniques as Director and Deputy Director for the Program in Humanitarian Assistance and Adjunct Faculty for the Global Health Affairs Program at the University of Denver Korbel School of International Studies.

Technology in Community Development – Culture, Ethics, and Why it Matters

How often have you gone into a community and seen a broken down water well, unused school building, or decrepit renewable energy project?  Some NGO came in with good intentions, but for a myriad of reasons after they leave these projects fall into a state of disrepair.  And unfortunately the blame is often put on the community furthering an internal feeling of dis-empowerment and lack of self-efficacy.  When really the problems lies in the implementation of the technology itself.

What is appropriate technology all about? It is a way of thinking about technological change; recognizing that tools and techniques can evolve along different paths toward different ends. It includes the belief that human communities can have a hand in deciding what their future will be like, and that the choice of tools and techniques is an important part of this. It also includes the recognition that technologies can embody cultural biases and sometimes have political and distributional effects that go far beyond a strictly economic evaluation. “A.T.” therefore involves a search for technologies that have, for example, beneficial effects on income distribution, human development, environmental quality, and the distribution of political power—as well as productivity—in the context of particular communities and nations.  —Village Earth’s Appropriate Technology Sourcebook

We all introduce and use technologies in our community development work whether we recognize it or not.  But how often do we step back and reflect on the cultural biases or political implications that these technologies bring with them?  Technology is not neutral, but by working with communities on the process of appropriate technology generation we can hope to develop ethical technologies that are appropriate to their environmental, socio-cultural, political, and economic contexts.  Through the process of bottom-up appropriate technology generation and the tandem use of both hard (tangible) and soft (participation, community organization, etc) technologies this process can be both empowering for local people and sustainable in the long-term.

Join us to learn more about these concepts in our Technology and Community Development Online Course now enrolling through October 26.  This course is a part of our Sustainable Community Development Certificate and counts toward the specializations in Service and Civic Engagement, Community Planning and Development, and Participatory Facilitation.

Spring 2015 Sustainable Community Development Online Course Schedule

In partnership with both Colorado State University Online Plus (CSU) and Duke University Continuing Studies we are pleased to announce that our Spring 2015 Sustainable Community Development Certificate online course schedule has been released.  Spring 2015 courses will open for registration by October 15, 2014 for CSU courses and will open by this Friday, September 26, 2014 for Duke courses.  Take a look at the 2015 spring schedule below and begin planning your own schedule of courses for either a general Sustainable Community Development certificate or choose one of our specialized tracks.

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Term 1: January 9 – February 13, 2015

Term 2: February 27 – April 3, 2015

Term 3: April 17 – May 22, 2015

 

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Term 1: January 16 – February 20, 2015

Term 2: March 6 – April 10, 2015

Term 3: April 24 – May 29, 2015

Introducing New Training Instructor John Straw, Executive Director for Concern America.

JohnStraw…John Straw, Executive Director over at Concern America!  He will be teaching a few different online courses in the Sustainable Community Development Certificate program starting with the upcoming Approaches to Community Development course through Colorado State University (Registration deadline this Sunday, July 20).

John Straw grew up in Flint, Michigan and received his Bachelors from the University of Michigan with a degree in Spanish and Education. He went on to earn a Masters in Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago, focusing on social justice and bilingual education. John and his wife lived for five years in Honduras and Guatemala working on a variety of community-based health and development projects. For the past 15 years, John has worked with Concern America, an international development and refugee aid organization based in southern California, with health, water, and income-generation projects in Latin America and Africa. He has been the Executive Director of Concern America since 2012.

In addition to his international development work, John has taught Spanish at the middle and high school levels, is on the school board of his daughter’s dual immersion school, and regularly participates in local political, justice, and solidarity efforts focused on Latin America. John and his wife are the proud parents of two children ages 15 and 12.

We are excited to have him on board and we think he will be a valuable addition to our training faculty!

Impactful Online Training for Stakeholders from Different Locations

Village Earth’s Sustainable Community Development Certificate program is a great way to train different stakeholders who may not all be in the same area, but need to be working on the same page.  For example, we have had organizations and private companies send groups through our certificate program which included local community members, company employees, NGO staff, and local government officials.  This is a great way to make sure everyone in your project group is working from the same development philosophy, using the same terminology, and can come to consensus on project design and M&E plans.  Especially if staff and local people are located in different countries, it is a great way to train everyone together while saving on transportation and in-person training costs.  And studies show, knowledge is gained and retained just as effectively from online training as it is from in-person training.

Now registering for courses that begin next week, April 25, at Duke University!  To explore training your group, please visit our Sustainable Community Development Certificate Online Training page. 

Sustainable Community Development Certificate Summer Courses Open

colorado_state_university_logo-1135358447Colorado State University has just opened registration for its online summer courses for the Sustainable Community Development Certificate Program.  Sessions are now open for June and July 2014.

Courses now open for registration:

What Sustainable Community Development Looks Like a Decade Later

Over ten years ago, Village Earth supported the creation of a microfinance initiative in the Marathi village of Belgaon Dhaga just outside of Nashik, India.  Village Earth’s support wound down as the community paid back the microfinance loans and created their own long-enduring institutions for the continued development of their community.  From the outset, five businesses were created using microfinance loans and now ten years later these businesses are flourishing and the microfinance initiative has continued of the community’s own accord by way of various intra-community savings and lending groups.

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Community leaders with a Village Earth representative.

Back in February, Village Earth was invited back to Belgaon Dhaga to see the community’s progress in the decade since and the results were remarkable.  The community hosted an award ceremony to honor local community talent, which included young artists, teachers, exceptional students, entrepreneurs, and women’s savings groups.  Children spoke about how after learning to read how they went home and taught their own mothers to read, young entrepreneurs gave encouragement to others to go out and start their own ventures, and all this was interspersed with local songs and dances by the school children.  Belgaon Dhaga is even more impressive in its focus on gender equity electing women to the top village leadership positions.The community leaders work with local government and business leaders to create long-enduring support for community initiatives.

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Young entrepreneur Dattu Dhage receiving the Role Model Innovative Farmer award from the Chief Minister of the state of Maharashtra.

And the list goes on and on…Belgaon Dhaga has been nominated for the national award for the most comprehensive, sustainable development including the most successful microfinance project model. Recently when a high level government delegation from Delhi came to ‘inspect’ the village, they were stunned to hear the young village leaders present their community development and training model and were shown different achievements in Belgaon Dhaga. One of the organic farmers from the community was recently chosen as the most innovative young farmer by the state of Maharashtra in February.

This is what sustainable community development should look like, and we at Village Earth are very proud of the achievements of Belgaon Dhaga.  This community has become a role model for other villages around the world.  Village Earth hopes to offer training and study tour opportunities in this area in the future so other development practitioners can learn from the community themselves and their decade of experience with truly bottom-up, participatory community development.  If you are interested in potential study tour opportunities, e-mail kristina@villageearth.org.  Kamala Parekh, a Village Earth online instructor, lives in the community and has been seminal in the success of the microfinance program and she teaches our microfinance course online through both Colorado State University and Duke University.

Village Earth Proud to Announce New Partnership with Duke University Continuing Studies

logo_vert_#001A57_lrVillage Earth will now be offering our Sustainable Community Development Certificate Program through Duke University’s Department of Continuing Studies.  We expect that this will be a very fruitful partnership in that Village Earth will bring its world-renowned online sustainable community development training program to the academic excellence of Duke University.  We hope that through this partnership we will be able to reach even more community leaders, development practitioners, and others around the world with an interest in increasing their knowledge and skills in sustainable community development.  Courses through Duke University begin January 17, 2014.

We will be offering the same great five-week courses and numerous specializations to tailor the program to meet participant’s needs and interests.  Our instructors will continue to be the same seasoned professionals who are practitioners in their fields.  An application for admission is not required to enroll in a course or to pursue the Certificate in Sustainable Community Development from Duke University.

Duke University is ranked the #7 university in the United States.  “The university has a strong commitment to applying knowledge in service to society… around the world.”

Village Earth will also continue to offer the Sustainable Community Development Certificate Program through Colorado State University as well.  Visit Village Earth’s Sustainable Community Development online training page for more information about this program including how to enroll.  If you have questions, please contact Village Earth’s Training Director at kristina@villageearth.org.

 

Greenhouse Gas Levels Break Another Record: Community Adaptive Capacity Critical

According to the UN’s World Meteorological Organization, greenhouse gases are at an all time high for the ninth year in a row.  From effects on food security, human health, and local economies; climate change is causing wide spread implications for many sectors of community development.  One of the most severe needs is to strengthen grassroots adaptation capacity.  As community development practitioners, it essential that we learn the techniques and strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change on communities.

A community’s adaptive capacity is their means of coping with these changes and uncertainties.  The poorest communities tend to be the most vulnerable to these changes.  Communities need to have the knowledge about and understand carbon offsetting and global mitigation schemes such as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) in order to decide whether these are useful mechanisms for their community.

To learn about climate change and community development, check out Village Earth’s newest course Local Communities and Climate Change Mitigation Strategies.  Register online by November 10 by clicking the link.

Celebrating a Decade of Online Training

Village Earth (originally through an entity called the International Institute for Sustainable Development), in collaboration with Colorado State University, was one of the first non-governmental organizations to really pioneer online training in the development and humanitarian sectors back in 2003.  Now ten years later, Village Earth’s online Sustainable Community Development Certificate program is one of the premier training programs for development and relief professionals.   Many organizations have sent groups of their staff (“training of trainers”) or program participants through the certificate program such as World Learning, IREX, Academy for Educational Development, Habitat for Humanity, and many more.

“For 26 years, I had worked with an international NGO assigned in several countries but I must admit that despite these years of doing development work, it is only now that I have a deeper understanding of what community-based development should be..”  — Course Participant

Over the ten years our program has evolved and adapted to the changing development landscape to incorporate not only best practices in online training, but also to stay on top of best practices in the field of sustainable community development.  Our courses have always been taught by practitioners in the field who bring with them not only immense academic knowledge but also the wealth of real world, on-the-ground knowledge that only someone with experience in the field could bring.   Our program has grown to now offer twenty-three courses as a part of the online certificate.  Recently, we have also begun to offer specializations for those looking to focus in on a particular subject area such as Economic Development, Natural Resources Management, Political Empowerment, Disaster Relief, Food Security / Agriculture, Participatory Facilitation, and Community Planning and Development.

Although more and more development training programs are coming online, Village Earth’s Sustainable Community Development Certificate stands out above the competition.   Unlike other online course programs that just post information online for student’s to read, our courses are facilitated, interactive, and encourage dialogue amongst our diverse participant body giving the opportunity for development professionals to learn from, discuss and network with other professionals from all over the globe.  To date, we have had participants come through our program from IGOs such as the United Nations to  grassroots community leaders in the most remote corners of the world.  You can see our list of 83 countries from which we have had participants:

1.     Afghanistan

2.     Albania

3.     Armenia

4.     Australia

5.     Austria

6.     Bangladesh

7.     Belgium

8.     Benin

9.     Bosnia-Herzegovina

10.   Brazil

11.   Bulgaria

12.   Burma (Myanmar)

13.   Burundi

14.   Cambodia

15.   Cameroon

16.   Canada

17.   Chad

18.   Colombia

19.   Congo

20.  Denmark

21.   East Timor

22.  Ecuador

23.  Egypt

24.  Ethiopia

25.  Finland

26.  France

27.  Germany

28.  Haiti

29.  Honduras

30.  India

31.   Indonesia

32.  Ireland

33.   Israel

34.  Italy

35.   Jamaica

36.  Japan

37.   Jordan

38.   Kenya

39.  Kiribati

40.  Korea

41.   Kosovo

42.  Kyrgyzstan

43.  Laos

44.  Lebanon

45.  Lesotho

46.  Liberia

47.  Luxembourg

48.  Madagascar

49.  Malta

50.  Mauritania

51.   Mexico

52.  Mongolia

53.   Mozambique

54.  Namibia

55.   Nepal

56.  Netherlands

57.   New Zealand

58.   Nigeria

59.  Norway

60.  Papua New Guinea

61.  Pakistan

62.   Philippines

63.  Qatar

64.  Russia

65.  Serbia

66.  Sierra Leone

67.  Singapore

68.  Slovakia

69.  South Africa

70.  Spain

71.  Sudan

72.   Sweden

73.  Switzerland

74.   Syria

75.  Tanzania

76.   Thailand

77.  Trinidad and Tobago

78.   United Arab Emirates

79.   United Kingdom

80.  United States

81.  Vanuatu

82.   Vietnam

83.  Zambia

Upgrading the Online Certificate Program: New Name & New Specializations!

First, some good news for those enrolled in the Online Certificate Program and those interested in enrolling, the program name is changing to Sustainable Community Development.  Participants who complete four courses will receive a Colorado State University certificate in Sustainable Community Development. Adding the word sustainable will reflect the program’s focus on sustainability as well as empowering, participatory community development. Plus it is a keyword that looks great on your CV or resume.

Second, we are now offering specialized tracks for those who would like their certificate program to focus in on a particular subject area within the field of sustainable community development.  If you choose a specialization it will be noted on your certificate, which again looks great on a CV or resume if you would like to portray specialization in a particular area.  New specialized tracks include:  Participatory Facilitation, Food Security / Agriculture, Disaster Relief, Political Empowerment, Natural Resources Management, Economic Development, and Community Planning and Development.  So the certificate you would receive would be a Certificate in Sustainable Community Development with a specialization in Disaster Relief, for example.  We hope that this will help tailor our program to the meet the needs of the many development professionals who come through our program.  And keep in mind, our general certificate (or create your own track) option is still available allowing you to complete the one required Approaches to Community Development course and three elective courses of your choosing to receive the Certificate in Sustainable Community Development.

Unfortunately, Colorado State University will not reissue new certificates to those who have completed the certificate program in the past before these new changes.   However, past certificate recipients are welcome to take more courses in the program to complete a specialized track and receive the new certificate.

Check out our online certificate program page for more information.