HEALTH Inc was born from a challenge to design a development paradigm that truly did more good than harm. We visited Himalayan villages where people felt marginalised by traditional aid. We met teachers whose isolation resulted in their struggling to create lively learning units. And we encountered thousands of women and children eager to take control of their lives. What was lacking in each situation was village-based support, using village-based resources to create village-based change.
Our global partnerships allowed us to support sustainable community development that also built bridges between cultures and peoples.
In remote Himalayan villages, we use a ‘slow development’ approach. We’re invited to consult with the locals, by the locals. We work together to create a community development plan. We partner with local government agencies, often obtaining 5:1 matching funds. We find global partners who support long-term human resource development. And we ensure that when we leave, the villagers can continue building their future. It’s slow, it’s not charity, and we find it works.
In programs designed to serve thousands across districts, we rely on partnerships. Local governments depute their most enthusiastic staff to design an education campaign, a model school or a health unit that will advance the well-being of the population. We partner with that team, bringing in people, ideas or funds, and help team members travel out to train at quality institutions around the world. Then we step aside and allow the partnerships to continue flourishing.
In global education exchanges, we simply link people together and let the learning blossom. A resource-rich school struggling to answer the learning question who are we? partners with a resource-poor school who can show their new friends the elements defining culture. Ladakhi youth learn IT skills from their Canadian peers, who, in turn, learn teaching skills, erasing the us-to-them directionality of some exchanges.
And we’re there because all our projects are learning experiences in development that works. Lessons learned are shared between partners, with government agencies and with other NGOs. And when things don’t work, it’s an equally valuable experience that helps all our partners avoid common pitfalls in change.