Billions of foreign dollars spent in Africa.
No significant impact.
Something must change.
The recognition of one fundamental truth changed everything.
There are thousands of well-meaning Aid organizations across Africa, nonprofit NGO’s, religious missions, and foreign aid from countries around the world. Yet the result has been to sustain people in their poverty and drain the continent of its valuable resources.
Children need enablement to properly develop into healthy adults. But adults, no matter how distressed, must design, implement, and create their own solutions.
True Community Empowerment
VCI was created and operates from the unorthodox and highly effective standpoint that Africans can solve their own problems using the resources they have on hand and without dependence on humanitarian aid.
It is a radical idea, still largely rejected in all humanitarian efforts today. Sudden disasters, natural and man made, often require unrestrained and massive assistance. There is a to time provide food, shelter and clothing. But endemic poverty cannot be cured by traditional means. The seeds of empowerment must be watered carefully.
The spark that ignites the power of creativity must be lit within the heart and person to person within the community. After 17 years VCI has proven that in distressed communities solutions that are not created and owned within the community are never sustainable. It is not about getting an agreement between the donor and recipient about what the community wants, or even about what the community needs. It is about orchestrating a process that transfers power on day one to the community and allows them to succeed and fail while moving forward in the normal process of building healthy and wealthy lives.
VCI is all about the community transfer of power. We equip people the members of the community to become agents of change, utilizing principles and practices that empower vulnerable populations to thrive.
As a result, thousands of communities across Africa are now thriving.
For several hundred years Africa suffered the humility of foreign domination that gave no consideration to the humanity of the most valuable resource on the continent. People.
Entire people groups were enslaved, leadership was culled out of the population, and the Master/Servant relationship was enforced in a brutal and deadly manner. The end of the colonial era was not a process of gradual disengagement, but abandonment.
Strong Africa leadership emerged quickly replacing the exiting colonial powers. At the same time the U.S. and Russia began to pour billions of dollars into Africa thinly disguised as Aid, but in fact was simply alliance building with no real oversight over the funds. Exiting colonials paid billions in reparations with the same lack of oversight, and corruption along with generations old tribal rivalries quickly infected the continent. Infrastructure collapsed leaving power grids, coordinated water networks and road systems in disrepair and collapsed states.
Whether planned or not, this left the vast and rich African land resources, the richest in the world, an easy target for exploitation. First world production of cheap high-tech products relies significantly on the continued exploitation of Africa, and Africans.
Foreign intervention always leads to perpetual states of chaos, bad governance, civil war, and dependence.
“In all kindness, everything we do, everything we have done as donors has perpetuated the mentality of enablement.”
The Post-Colonial Era has only perpetuated the first world myths, and the culture of enablement. In the words of Granth Rom, “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 the genocide of nations. Yet by some peoples’ thinking we have already so enabled some populations that there is no turning back.”
At VCI we understand that the catalyst necessary to effect change is to foster people’s natural capacity to solve their own problems. VCI OPOS facilitation awakens the hearts of folks to begin in small ways to make changes that quickly grow into dynamic improvement.
All we have to do is stand back and stay out of their way.
OPOS. Our method of transferring power across our five major programs, is organized around Outcomes where we ask the participants; “What do you want to achieve?”, Practices; “what will you need to do to achieve the Outcome you desire?” and Open Space, where the participants create an agenda, break into small groups, and decide how to work together to solve the problems they have decided to tackle.
We have eliminated the foreign approach to problem solving by opening the eyes and minds of the amazing capacity of Africans to be creative and initiate change from within.
Only Africans can solve the problems of Africa. Just like only you can own the solutions to your own challenges.
We come only where we are invited. OPOS can take a few hours or last a few days. It can start again any time, everyone is welcome, everyone has a voice. Whomever shows up are the right people, whatever happens is the right thing.
There are times in the phases of life for all of us where we need some help with “what’s next”?
OPOS is a decision making action plan and covers five areas of life.
The first four all focus on the same goals. We want everyone to be Safe, healthy, living in a loving home, to be learning, and have economic security. Without the first four, the fifth is not sustainable. Without the fifth, the first four are not sustainable.
There are five principal areas that are fundamental to all healthy communities around the world. Every healthy community, and every member in every stage of life must have access to effective Sanitation, Nutrition, Health Care and Awareness, Education, and Economic gain.
We begin by inviting everyone in the community to come to a town meeting.
In every community there are people of influence. Our most important participants throughout the life of the program are the most vulnerable members of the community. We consistently find that once the poor and disenfranchised become engaged and active, radical change occurs in the community.
But change is a process of engagement and influence. In every community there are people of influence. They are often not the identified leaders, they are simply people who everyone listens to, usually doing well, and have good life disciplines and behaviors. OPOS starts with them.
The first OPOS is Outcomes for Life.
VCI does not teach in the traditional sense, and we do not lead. VCI has two official roles for our Volunteers who are trained to conduct OPOS. Facilitators and Coordinators.
Facilitation is the act of providing a forum for people to speak freely, organizing ideas and recording decisions and actions. Everyone working with VCI is a facilitator. It is how we work together, and how we work with the communities we serve. Coordinators seek new communities to participate with, make connections and build networks for multiplying the principles of empowerment across communities, regions, and countries.
All VCI representatives are unpaid volunteers. All representatives are indigenous to the communities they serve. No foreigners are allowed to participate in OPOS, and outside observers are discouraged from attending. Observers change the outcome, especially foreigners who always come with an outside perspective, and because of centuries of African tradition, tend to be seen as sources of donations, creating a perspective that defeats empowerment.
Outcomes for Children
Because Africa has the largest percentage of orphans in the world, this program has been the most targeted and important initiative for thousands of communities.
Once self interest is addressed in Outcomes for Life, we begin to focus on the most vulnerable members of the community with a global reach by all parents to all the children in the community. Poverty is not targeted, but thousands of impoverished families in the last 17 years have been lifted and transformed within their communities. Common cause, and enthusiastic participation promotes an environment of mutual respect and success at all levels.