Village Care International was created and operates from the unorthodox and highly effective standpoint that only Africans can solve their own problems by using the resources they have on hand and without dependence on humanitarian aid.

We do that by equipping communities and their leaders with principles and practices that empower vulnerable populations to thrive. The results have been amazing with more than 800 communities in 10 countries currently involved as members of Village Care.

The Facts

If you spend any time studying the history of Africa you will quickly see that the idea of self-initiating anything has literally been beaten out of the population. With the advent of the Colonial Era in the late 1800s the so-called civilized world turned Africa into one giant plantation where there was no distinction between products and people. People were bought and sold, moved and exported like any non-human resource for nearly a hundred years. Any African who opposed that system was systematically eliminated. The era destroyed a thought process and repressed a natural genetic disposition that all people have to create, initiate and innovate their own solutions.

Without understanding this key cultural cause of Africa’s problems, the outside world continues to blindly pour billions of dollars in aid into the continent. Yet, instead of solving the crisis this constant river of cash has changed nothing. Today, poverty, sickness and death across Africa continue to prevail while Africans have become entirely dependent upon handouts from foreign entities.

According to Village Care International founder David Glenwinkel: “In all kindness, everything we do, everything we have done as donors has perpetuated the mentality of enablement. It is a dilemma because we are convinced that if we stop we will be responsible for a literal genocide of nations. Yet by some peoples’ thinking we have already so enabled some populations that there is no turning back.”

“We understand that the catalyst necessary
to effect change is to allow people’s natural
capacity to solve their own problems emerge.
Once they understand this all we have to do
is stand back and stay out of their way.”

David Glenwinkel

Founder, Village Care International

The Method

The program Village Cares uses to help improve the African condition is called OPOS, an acronym for Outcomes, Practices and Open Space. It grew out of recognizing two things: one, the cultural and historical reasons that fuel African poverty, and two, that decades of direct aid and outside support have flat-out failed to improve the lives of impoverished and vulnerable Africans.

By recognizing these two points we have discovered that by placing the onus of solving Africa’s problems on the Africans themselves and by eliminating traditional modes of providing fiscal aid, Africans quickly and effectively regain their self-sufficiency and become empowered to take on and fix their ailing communities.

OPOS works as a three-part, multi-level program that can be presented to a community in one to three days. All OPOS seminars are run by African facilitators, with every villager invited to attend and guaranteed the chance to participate.

day one

Because Africa has the largest percentage of orphans in the world, OPOS focuses Day 1 on this issue by establishing a set of five goals or Outcomes for every child in the village. These are that a child should be:

  • Safe
  • Healthy
  • Living in a Loving Home
  • Attend School and Learn
  • Have a good reputation

Beginning with goal 1 (Outcome 1), villagers are asked, “In your community what does it mean for a child to be safe?” As the facilitator guides the discussion, villagers are asked to write down their answers using their own language and their own concepts and definitions. Subsequent Outcomes are treated the same way.

day two

Day 2 of OPOS operates the same way but instead focuses on Basic Home Practices or those things that must be done to achieve the Outcomes. The practices are also divided into five categories:

  • Sanitation
  • Nutrition
  • Health Care
  • Education
  • Economic Security

Again the facilitator guides the audience through a series of questions as they spend the day together talking about what they need in their village to improve in each of these areas.

day three

Day 3 of OPOS is dedicated to Open Space. During this time together anyone who wants to talk about anything discussed in the first two programs can do so.

After everyone has had a chance to announce the topics in which they are interested, people are free to go and discuss for a designated time and then break and go to another meeting on a different topic. At meetings’ end they are to report back by describing:

  • What was the topic of discussion?
  • Who was chosen to lead the discussion?
  • What will each person do for themselves?
  • What will each person do for their family?
  • What will they do as a group for the community?
  • When will they do it?
  • How often will they meet?

During the three-day seminar no outside advice is given or offered to the villagers. All concepts, problems, ideas and potential solutions are generated by the attending community and moderated by a fellow African. Ultimately, the program is written and implemented entirely by and for the community.

During the three-day seminar no outside advice is given or offered to the villagers. All concepts, problems, ideas and potential solutions are generated by the attending community and moderated by a fellow African. Ultimately, the program is written and implemented entirely by and for the community.

The Results

By embracing the concepts of no help, no aid and no outside interference, Village Care’s OPOS program flies in the face of conventional wisdom (or lack thereof), and it works — sometimes in something as small as cleaner more sanitary living conditions and sometimes in something as big as a village-wide fish-farming project that employs and feeds dozens.

In eight short years, Village Care has seen its OPOS program take hold in 800 villages across 10 countries. Increasingly, the program is spread and shared from village to village by word of mouth and without the need of stateside Village Care facilitators, a testament to our belief that Africans are more than capable and desirous of solving their own problems.

Donations to Village Care International are used solely to support our African facilitators with a small living wage and to provide them with a means of transportation and communication. As such, a full 90% of your donation goes directly to changing the lives of countless Africans forever.