Last week we celebrated our second annual Community Forum, bringing together government officials, academics from around the world, diplomats and hundreds from the Kigutu community to share their knowledge and insights.
It takes more than antibiotics to tackle pervasive illness and disease. It takes more than microfinance to break the cycle of poverty in much of the developing world. It takes more than school supplies to build an education system from scratch.
Even when programs are thoughtful and well designed, the secret of success in global health and international development is simple: build a community of collaboration. Commit to being guided by those you serve and allow local talent to drive the effort forward, then collaborate with compassionate people from around the world.
When Village Health Works was founded, it was these values that ignited our work and we continue to live these values everyday. All four of our talented staff physicians are from our catchment area. All of our nurses are from Burundi. Expats collaborate with local staff on economic development, the design and execution of education programs and agricultural innovation. Experts from around the world—all part of our global community—contribute their knowledge and experience. Simultaneously, the local community shares their expertise and guides the development of new programs.
Burundians and global guests collaborated on health, art, education, economic cooperatives, addressing gender-based violence, surgery, doctor-patient relationships and architecture. It’s this collaboration that powers our work.
We are only going to be successful in breaking the cycle of poverty and disease if we are vigilant about humility and committed to acting as partners—community, public officials, staff and supporters. And it's this partnership that will transform the cycle of misery and disease into a virtuous cycle of health, peace and productivity.
Deogratias Niyizonkiza is a native of Burundi and founder of the non-profit organization Village Health Works. He's also the subject of the book Strength in What Remains by Pulitzer Prize winning author Tracy Kidder.
To see GHFN’s story on Deo’s clinic, go to http://www.ghfn.org/1-topics-general-pages/policy-amp-projects