Dear Brigaders and Supporters:
Global Brigades is thrilled to announce that we are expanding to AFRICA! Since our founding in 2004, Global Brigades has experienced amazing growth. With programs firmly developed in Honduras and Panama, we have helped mobilize over 6000 volunteers to work with under-served communities in Central America. Our network of university clubs and professional groups has also expanded rapidly from the United States and are now established in Europe, the UK, and Ireland.
To help accommodate this phenomenal expansion, and in response to brigaders’ feedback to provide another geographic option that will cut-down on travel time and costs for European volunteers, Global Brigades set about to locate another area outside of Central America to develop our programs. After a lengthy process of conducting research and listening to input from staff, partner organizations, and brigaders, Global Brigades decided upon a region: Africa.
Global Brigades formed Search Africa, a research project spearheaded by Orion Haas and Allen Gula, with the mission to travel, listen, learn and share information about development projects in Africa. For the past six months, Orion and Allen have been traveling the continent to gather information, build relationships, and get qualitative and quantitative data on the needs of rural communities. In addition, Angelo Passalacqua headed a team to compile and analyze extensive amounts of data to identify a country that best aligns with 7 main key success factors: safety, political stability, rule of law, necessary infrastructure, access to GB’s international volunteer base, an established non-governmental organizations (NGOs) network, and a need (please click here to read the full report). Based on this lengthy research process, the Search Africa team and Angelo Passalacqua concluded that the country with the highest need, most opportunities for collaboration, and a strong safety record in which to expand our programs is GHANA. Ghana not only has high need communities, but is a safe country for volunteers to travel to, and has communities with incredible local leadership and an established NGO presence that will allow Global Brigades to collaborate with local leaders and build upon and strengthen development systems already in place.
Beginning in 2011, schools from Europe, the UK, and Ireland will begin piloting brigades to communities in the Central Region of Ghana, after which programs will be opened up to North American brigades. Through in-put and statistics provided by the Ghanaian local and national government, the Central Region was identified as the region with the greatest need, while being the most accessible to volunteers. Based on needs assessments and discussions with key informants and local leaders, Global Brigades has identified that the main community needs are for Water, Medical/Public Health, and Business/Microfinance Brigades to be established first. Medical brigades will work with local doctors to setup mobile clinics to treat patients in communities that have limited access to healthcare. Water brigades will work with local engineers to help build water systems to bring clean water to communities. Business/Microfinance brigades will assist rural banks to fund micro loans and provide consulting to loan applicants.
Over the course of the next several months, Global Brigades will be working heavily to implement a Research and Evaluation system in Ghana, including conducting community needs assessments, developing benchmarks, carrying out data collection, and implementing logic models, so that our programs can have a baseline to measure impact down the line. We are also currently working on program development and on establishing partnerships and building relationships with government ministries and other organizations already on the ground in Ghana so that our programs build upon established models and have community buy-in.
Global Brigades is continuing to develop our program to fit with the need in Ghana and with our organizational mission, and we welcome feedback and input from brigaders during this process. If you have questions, ideas, or suggestions, please contact Orion Haas at firstname.lastname@example.org. For a visual tour of one of the communities we are partnering with in Ghana, please check out our video on YouTube. While our expansion to Africa represents a significant step forward for our organization, we are committed to continuing to work with communities in Central America. Global Brigades is excited to offer volunteers the opportunity to implement sustainable development solutions both in Central America and Africa. We look forward to providing you with additional details and information over the coming months, and to receiving your input and feedback along the way.
Please click here to read the full Global Brigades’ Expansion to Africa Report.