Via International has been working for over 30 years to improve the health and wellness of family and community through strategies that build self-sufficiency in individuals. Via utilizes a “train the trainer” approach to build leadership capacity within the community and offer a way for undereducated and low-income individuals to empower themselves to become more economically stable. At the heart of our efforts is this Family Health and Food Security Program which rests upon a model widely utilized throughout Latin America known as “promotoria,” or training community members to become community leaders.
This Family Health and Food Security program combines nutrition/ecology education with the development of a community garden and related micro-enterprise channels. The overarching goal is to build community leadership capacity and increase economic self sufficiency among low income women. By doing so through a lens of family health, it achieves a secondary goal of helping women improve their family’s nutrition and health outcomes. This program targets women who may have little education, few prospects for economic self empowerment and whose families often suffer from food insecurity. By engaging them in a family health and wellness program that also offers a leadership training component, we can affect positive change in the health, wellbeing and personal development of the participants, while improving overall family health and that of the broader community. The goal of training women from the neighborhood to become active community leaders, small business entrepreneurs and advocates for volunteerism is central to its core objectives.
This program has two overarching objectives:
- Help low-income families improve their nutrition and health outcomes through an extensive nutrition and ecology course and practical application in a community garden, and;
- Build community leadership capacity, specifically among low-income women, to improve their overall economic self-sufficiency and have positive impacts on their children.
The sixteen-session course we have developed covers basic nutrition concepts and low-cost meal preparation, organic gardening, composting and recycling, as well as broader environmental health topics relevant to this particular community. After completing the first course, participants have the option of enrolling in a second sixteen-session course that delves deeper into the nutrition and ecology concepts, and prepares them to become instructors in the program, or community health advocates. This is followed with a course in leadership training which, when completed, allows these women to organize and teach new groups of classes in their community or alternatively, take on leadership roles in their children’s local elementary school garden and nutrition programs. Through this simple process of replication, many of the initially trained participants will become established community health workers, thereby exponentially expanding the program and its benefits to more families and children. This model is focused on women as they are traditionally in charge of all aspects of health and nutrition in their homes and is offered completely free of charge.
We are currently seeking support for this initiative. If you wish to contribute to this program, DONATE HERE.