What we do
Poverty levels in east Africa remain high as a result of many factors, including the residual effects of culture, colonialism, and various institutional systems. But illiteracy and lack of exposure are major factors that we can directly address. Development Companions International (DCI) seeks to correct these unequal opportunities through our Adult Literacy Education (ALE) program, and our Community Health Education Programs. DCI also provides leadership development for church leaders to improve their ability to support these programs and create more of their own.
DCI’s adult literacy program is designed to give a basic but comprehensive and wholistic education to those who never had an opportunity to go to school to learn to read and write, or learn English, the national language. The lack of these basic communication skills has kept people from being able to learn many other skills essential to development and self-sustainability. In addition to reading and writing and English, we also teach our adult students life skills in arithmetic, agriculture, Bible and christian education, health, gender issues, human rights, civics, and parenting, and entrepreneurship. This curriculum is enabling our students to lead more productive and healthier lives, and helping them to raise their incomes and participate in the development of society. We typically work through local churches and community groups, helping to encourage local ownership of each class. DCI provides teacher training, learning materials, management and monitoring, and evaluation. A course runs for a total of three years, including preparation and final evaluation.
But literacy and skills are only part of the problem. We believe that poor health and access to care are the second most important factor that binds people in poverty. DCI runs local community health education programs including long-term relationships with schools and student groups, and also with surrounding communities. Basic knowledge, hygiene habits, and lifestyle choices are all addressed. We use education methods designed to encourage actual lifestyle change and which challenge participants to teach others. Our projects include a structured program in schools with monthly workshops with students and teachers, a village health meeting series including local leaders, community members, and model households, and health talk shows on radio stations in two regions, reaching hundreds of thousands of people.
DCI’s fundamental strategy is to empower communities to take charge of their own sustainability and community development through individual and community empowerment by giving knowledge and skills, at the request of the local communities themselves, partnering with them in program design. Currently we achieve this through adult literacy and preventive health care education. DCI currently has 22 adult literacy classes in 12 districts of Uganda, and health education activities in the region around Mount Elgon. We have requests from a number of additional areas of Uganda as well, and we hope to raise new funds for expansion to serve them.