One Village At A Time

One Village At A Time (OVAAT) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-government organization (NGO) whose mission is to create small, sustainable programs for AIDS orphans and their villages in Nambale and Siaya, Kenya, with the final goal being that each village is able to create its own resources for feeding, clothing, and educating itself. Our Sustainable School Feeding Program helps three schools and their communities become self-sustaining. We impact about 7,500 people. One Village initiated its program in the Busia District of Nambale because of its extreme poverty: 70% of its residents in the district live on less than $1 a day. The impact of the AIDS pandemic in Kenya has been catastrophic....

One Village At A Time
121 W. Newton St.
% Susan B Gross
Boston, MA 02118
United States
617-262-4686
http://www.onevillageatatime.org

Board of Directors

Susan B Gross,Johanna Myers,Elaine Sanfillipo,Onslo Carrington,Medhi Rahmani,Ashley Kennerson,Keith Roux,Jonathan Slawsby

Project Leaders

Ginger DeShaney

Mission

One Village At A Time (OVAAT) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-government organization (NGO) whose mission is to create small, sustainable programs for AIDS orphans and their villages in Nambale and Siaya, Kenya, with the final goal being that each village is able to create its own resources for feeding, clothing, and educating itself. Our Sustainable School Feeding Program helps three schools and their communities become self-sustaining. We impact about 7,500 people. One Village initiated its program in the Busia District of Nambale because of its extreme poverty: 70% of its residents in the district live on less than $1 a day. The impact of the AIDS pandemic in Kenya has been catastrophic. Kenya's average rate of HIV infection is 6.1% of the population. In the Busia District, the HIV statistics are 30%, fives times higher than the rest of the nation. The astounding number of AIDS-related adult fatalities has had devastating consequences on the orphan population. There are 2.4 million orphans in Kenya, approximately half of whom are orphans because of the AIDS pandemic. Boston-based One Village and Kenya-based Kisumu Medical Educational Trust (K-MET) empower local leadership and businesses, schools, and other community-based organizations to develop sustainable education, feeding, and clothing programs in the villages. The goals of our Sustainable School Feeding Program include: higher school completion rates, improved nutrition and health status, improved social and emotional behavior, improved parent-child relationships, early stimulation, intellectual development, and enhanced self-esteem among adolescent girls. The idea for One Village At A Time was born in 2002 when now Executive Director Susan Gross was visiting Addis Ababa for an AIDS conference. While the natural reaction when faced with the unthinkable death in Africa from AIDS is to feel overwhelmed and give up, Susan realized that small differences could make major changes. She has used this philosophy in One Village At A Time, with small amounts of money making a huge difference. For example, we can teach a school and a community how to be sustainable for only $5,000. Our goal is to raise a village from abject poverty with no feeding program to total sustainability in two years, setting up various initiatives so that after two years, the village runs itself and its feeding program, loans, and sanitary pads program. We also plan to add at least two new schools each year. At present we have three schools, with two schools having graduated from the program. We also want to extend our influence into more areas of Kenya and to other parts of East Africa, including Uganda, Southern Sudan, and Rwanda. Our programs are small and self-sustaining. Our programs are village-driven and village-accountable. Our programs do not reinvent the wheel. We build partnerships with existing NGO programs and the village leadership, work to empower the village organizations and structures to find existing resources and grants, and encourage coalition-building at the village, city, county, and national levels. Our programs empower communities by nurturing hope, restoring health, and connecting resources to create a self-sustaining community. We do this one village at a time.

Programs

For the Sustainable School Feeding Program, One Village and K-MET identify -- through requests -- a community and school that have severe poverty (as defined by the United Nations), children suffering from malnutrition, and a high HIV rate. One Village and K-MET meet with parents, teachers, and local leaders to introduce and outline the program. We develop a contract between parents, other adults, One Village, and K-MET establishing goals, expectations, and timelines. We introduce Participatory Integrative Community Development (PICD) to help the community coalesce and form a strategic plan for feeding all the children in the school and to become self-sustaining through microfinance and cost-sharing. PICD sets the foundation for all our programs: Feeding (providing daily highly nutritious meals to kindergartners through 4th-graders to fight malnutrition); Microfinance (providing financial training and small business loans to stimulate economic development and create sustainability); and Reproductive Health (providing health education and distributing sanitary pads to keep girls in school). During these community meetings, the villagers are taken through a process that explores and modifies attitudes that impede access to and development in basic education. The groups will set community education priorities that will be translated into an action plan. This PICD process instills community ownership of the project. A Project Committee is formed for the purposes of overseeing and verifying enrollment of pupils. To ensure sustainability, a 10-day workshop will be conducted for a team of Community Conversations Facilitators to spearhead community conversations on education during and after the project life. We found that community participation and planning at every stage of the project creates a sense of ownership. One Village and K-MET set up a team involving the Minister of Health, the Minister of Education, a nutritionist, a reproductive health specialist, a microfinance teacher, and a PICD specialist to work with the new school and community. Each of these specialists works with the schools on a monthly basis to develop self-sustainability. One Village's roles include paying to train the specialists, sharing the cost of the feeding program with the village, and making sure that all girls receive reusable sanitary pads. It is our goal that all girls in our schools receive reproductive health education and sanitary pads to keep them in school. Otherwise, most girls stay home from school during their menses, missing valuable education time. K-MET brings in the microfinance specialist and the microfinance loans that help the villagers develop businesses and the ability to take over the feeding programs. After financial training by K-MET, we award microfinance business start-up loans up to $200 per business (up to $2,000/year) for local businesses. K-MET makes monthly visits to check on program progress, student health, and loan repayment. K-MET sends reports back to One Village and its donors. In one of our established microfinance programs, local women make reusable sanitary napkins for the girls in our schools to address the issue of girls missing one week each month because of their menses. This has already reduced the rate of vaginal infection and septicemia, as women and girls before would use leaves or dung to absorb their menstrual blood. In all of the schools where we gave out pads to the girls, they scored higher than the boys in their national exams. In Year 2 of the program, parents begin to transition away from cost-sharing with One Village and assume 60% financial responsibility for the feeding program. We continue to strengthen local businesses and grow the village economy through our microfinance program. Our reproductive health team continues to work with the girls and extends the program to mothers and women within the community. K-MET continues its monthly visits to discuss challenges, what works, what doesn't, and to prepare the school for graduation. Executive directors visit schools for graduation and the best performing school chooses the next school in the village to join us. The graduating school also partners with One Village and K-MET to become teachers and help the new school through the program. General objectives of the Sustainable School Feeding Program include: Increasing access to quality basic education in three rural schools in Western Kenya by the end of 2012. Increasing the income level of the school community in three rural schools by the end of 2012. Decreasing the dropout rate of girls in three rural schools in Western Kenya by the end of 2012. Increasing access to clean water through PlayPumps, which are children-powered merry-go-rounds that pump underground water to make it accessible to the community.

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