What We Do – Developing (and Testing) a Model for Stimulating Empowerment Centered Around Health Promotion
“Equality and inequality may be best assessed in terms of capabilities – rather than in terms of GDP, consumption or utility – while poverty may be best characterized in terms of the absence or deprivation of certain basic capabilities to do this or to be that…the importance of pluralist informational frameworks that take account of both the well-being aspect of a person (relating to his or her own personal physical and mental well-being) and the agency aspect (relating to the goals that a person values, desires and has reasons to pursue; and being sensitive to processes as well as to outcomes – reflecting the intrinsic value of individual choice and participation).” – Amartya Sen
We at Teach for Health believe that the best way to expand the assets and capabilities (AKA “empower”) a community to forge its own health and development agenda is to engage with a motivated community volunteer in the process of empowerment. By working with motivated community organizers and, in effect, simulating a model of empowerment through health promotion, we hypothesize that these community organizers can have an analogously empowering relationship with their communities.
We further hope to show that this can occur through an application of a simple, measurable process conducted collaboratively between an NGO versed in the process and an association of regional community organizers without overtly teaching a “model”. Furthermore, we believe that working through the model over a 5-year period can make sustainable changes with measurable differences in 9 different dimensions (Laverack 2007):
- Community participation (participation scores over time – attendance, input: substance and quantity, participation in fundraising, ideas acted upon)
- Problem assessment capabilities (ability to conduct assessment, design of assessment in program plans, ability to use data in program planning, ability to ask why)
- Local leadership (measuring initiative and response of local organization)
- Links to others (types of links established to other organizations and people, including formal agreements and actions taken as a result; resources and finances generated as a direct result of links)
- Organizational structures
- Resource mobilization
- Program management
- Relationships with outside agents
- Health outcomes as defined by community application of the model
In other words, we are trying to develop a cost-effective measurable process for stimulating organic social change faster and more effectively than it would occur on its own.