KIHEFO promotes local initiated solutions to fight disease, ignorance and poverty in southwestern Uganda
Last month, KIHEFO was proud to participate in GlobeMed’s inaugural East African Forum held in Kampala, Uganda (held July 18 – 20, 2013) to share and celebrate best-practices with 20+ community healthcare organizations from Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Ghana and Togo.
For over five years, KIHEFO has partnered with GlobeMed, a US-based organization working to connect university students from the US with grassroots organizations in Africa, Latin America and Asia. KIHEFO has hosted multiple student chapters of GlobeMed students in Kabale, Uganda, where students fundraise to help strengthen KIHEFO’s healthcare programming, and in turn, KIHEFO mentors students about root causes and solutions for fighting poverty, disease and ignorance.
Sharing the KIHEFO Model at the Forum
The opening remarks at the conference by Alyssa Smaldino, Partners Officer at GlobeMed National Office, were inspired by her experiences at KIHEFO earlier last year in December 2012. Alyssa quoted Caleb Rwakatungu, KIHEFO Board of Director, as saying “The KIHEFO Model was built on failure – the failure of previous aid and development projects in Uganda.” Alyssa explained how Caleb’s words inspired Alyssa’s work with GlobeMed, as an organization that is also striving to “undo” top-heavy global development paradigms through emphasis on local partnerships.
Dr. Anguyo Geoffrey (Executive Director of KIHEFO) shared more with East African NGOs at the forum about the unique KIHEFO model (based on locality, partnerships, innovation for achieving sustainability) as he introduced speakers for a panel discussion on ‘Cross-Sector Perspectives on Partnership.
“From the GlobeMed National Office [US-based] to Student Chapters [University-based] to Local Partners like KIHEFO – this is how we work together to reach what we are all really working for – the community” Anguyo emphasized.
The Value of Mentorship: NGOs & Students Working Together
Also in attendance at the East African Forum was an integral partner in the GlobeMed’s model for inspiring change: students. Many students, over fifty students from universities across the US, who were in the midst of completing their learning placements with organizations across East Africa.
Over the two-day forum, the convergence of students with NGOs provided the space to talk about an important element of the GlobeMed and KIHEFO Model: mentorship.
Through panel discussions, round-table exercises, and presentations, it came down to asking one question:
How can NGOs and Student Chapters work together – most effectively – to share resources (knowledge-based and financial-based) with the goal of strengthening community efforts for improving health?
Over the past five years, KIHEFO’s answer has been simple. Engage student’s learning interests, on the ground, in the community, and tap into their own personal talents, skills and networks. It’s win-win-win. Students gain incredible experiences working in rural environments focused on global health, and put their immediate ideas/skills into action.
KIHEFO has also benefited tremendously from GlobeMed students. One example is the KIHEFO website, which was built by students of the Bucknell University Student Chapter nearly five years ago.
More recently, students from Wayne State University helped families living in rural Nangara, Kabale, who are caring for malnourished children, to construct ‘Kitchen Gardens’ and learn about the importance of growing food closer to home. They also brightened the environment of the Nursery Room at the Nutrition & Rehabilitation Centre in Kabale-town by donating toys and painting a colourful mural.
For KIHEFO, mentorship is actually a three-way street where students gain, KIHEFO gains, and most importantly – the community gains.
Moving Forward with GlobeMed Students
KIHEFO was grateful to participate in the first annual GlobeMed East African Forum – stimulated by the energy, enthusiasm and positive ideas – and looks forward to strengthening projects with the Student Chapter at Wayne State University.
Together, they are focusing on improving child malnutrition in the Kigezi region through educational outreach to identify severe cases, and help families have access to rehabilitation services, preventative education and income generating activities.
To learn more about KIHEFO’s unique approach, and how you can become involved today in unique grassroots partnerships, please click – here.