“Sharing another’s struggle may not be instinctual, but to help those in need we must be willing to hear what they will never be able to say, we must dare to step into their home and their lives, even for just an instant.”
Adverse circumstances such poor harvests, job loss, or health issues are particularly devastating to ultra-poor households and other vulnerable populations. We work to improve the protection and increase the resiliency of populations to such shocks by promoting health-seeking behavior and connecting individuals, households, and communities to available services. Our efforts focus primarily on orphans and vulnerable children, children with disabilities, people infected or affected with HIV/AIDS and their households and communities.
We are participating in this USAID-funded project Twiyubake as a part of a consortium with Global Communities, Plan International, and AVSI to create more resilient populations. We contribute our expertise in healthcare delivery and health promotion and serve as a liaison to the Ministry of Health and Rwanda Biomedical Center to manage coordination, strengthen health service delivery, and provide capacity building to local implementation partners.
CONNECTING VULNERABLE POPULATIONS TO SERVICES
Often vulnerable populations do not seek healthcare or other social support services because they are unaware services are available or because they can’t access them. For example, day laborers can’t afford to miss out on wages from a day’s work to go to a health center. This reality means that vulnerable individuals and households might only seek care after an illness has progressed and is more difficult to treat.
In order to connect these vulnerable populations with needed and appropriate services, we train and mentor community-based volunteers to visit vulnerable households. They provide education sessions on topics such as voluntary HIV testing and counseling, family planning, and nutrition, and also inform them about available services such as early childhood development centers, prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission services, and antenatal care services. We work with individuals and households to better understand the barriers they face to accessing these services and then develop solutions together.
TRAINING SERVICE PROVIDERS
Many of these direct services are made available by Rwandan civil society organizations. We provide trainings and mentorship for the Rwandan partner organization staff to improve the quality of service delivery and to help them make their services more accessible to vulnerable populations. In addition, we are creating a directory of support services available in each sector so that different providers can better communicate and coordinate their efforts.
CREATING AN IMPROVED SAFETY NET
The goal of this program is to increase the capacity of families and communities to provide healthy, nurturing, and engaging environments for vulnerable children under five and decreased family economic vulnerability. By linking vulnerable populations to needed services and by improving communication and coordination among providers, we hope to create an improved social safety net for those who need it most.