Mobilizing Volunteers in Community Health
This model mobilizes and equips volunteers in a truly grassroots setting where the church is at the center, linked to the regional healthcare system. Using a train-the trainer approach, there is expediential growth.
The Rwanda HIV/Healthcare Initiative is a grassroots effort to mobilize volunteers in community health who are proficient in home visits and health promotion, with a focus on the early identification, treatment care and support of people living with HIV through the local church. The volunteers are selected by the churches and receive 26 weeks of training. The Initiative began at the invitation of the President of Rwanda, His Excellency President Paul Kagame, in partnership with the Rwanda Ministry of Health, The PEACE Plan, led by Rick and Kay Warren from Saddleback Church in California, and various other intermittent partners including University of Maryland’s Institute of Human Virology, and Biola University. The Karongi District, Western Province, one of the regions with highest need for healthcare services in Rwanda is now fully engaged in providing community health promotion. Capacity-building and linkage between church, hospital and clinic, with local ownership is providing sustainable and measureable health outcomes. The strategy has mobilized members of various faith communities and builds their capacities as community health workers. It is a community-owned, sustainable program to exponentially increase the access to care and effectiveness of government health programs. The key personnel overseeing and implementing this Initiative are nationals: Polepole Paulin, MD and Moses Ndahiro, PhD candidate.
Three thousand church members have been trained as Community PEACE Servants (Community Healthcare Workers), each with a caseload of 7 homes in their communities. Twenty-three thousand homes have been taught HIV prevention, basic hygiene and healthy home curriculum. Seventy thousand children have been impacted, as well as forty thousand adults. The unique Clinical Church model provides testing and counseling for HIV. During the past 2 years the burgeoning Clinical Church program has resulted in people being screened for HIV in 4 sectors, as well as:
- 39,000 home visits
- 2,500 were educated/sensitized by the church on HIV&AIDS prevention, and stigma at 4 AIDS Memorial Days in three sectors.
- 4 church-initiated hospital in-patient visiting and feeding programs
- 7000 Community PEACE Servants(CHW) by Sept. 2012 through train-the-trainer approach
“Partnering with churches is difficult, and it takes longer than doing it by yourself. One difference in the PEACE Plan is that I trust pastors and churches to know their community better than we ever will. In the long run, relationships are the key.”
Dr. Rick Warren
Pastor, Saddleback Church