The Fighting Poverty program addresses the biggest issues of our time. Modern globalization thrusts forward, seemingly on a course and with a speed of its own, powered by huge economic interests and directed by powerful political elites. Human needs and noble aspirations are destroyed in its track, and on its way our natural and only habitat is sold out.
However, it is, for good and for worse, our world, and we cannot just escape it, pretending to go off on a private tangent, busy with our own life, avoiding to see the consequences of world politics as they are acted out in our time, or to take a personal stand to the realities of The Poor. The Poor constitute more than half of mankind, caught in a whirlwind of wars, hunger, illness and repression, without land, without means, without work or education: without basic human rights. Based on this knowledge, activists from all over the world join Richmond Vale Academy and the Fighting Poverty Program.
Fighting Poverty Shoulder to Shoulder with the Community
The Fighting Poverty Program is an 18-month comprehensive study and action program with different periods of studies, practical actions, experiences and taking responsibility for humanity in crisis. Through completing a set of subjects, a balanced combination of theoretical studies, practical actions and experiences participants earn the A-Certificate in Fighting with The Poor as Distance Learners with One World University.
The first 6 months take place at Richmond Vale Academy, where participants train themselves to become Development Instructors in poor communities in Latin America.
Upon completion of the first 6 months, the Development Instructors travel to Belize or Ecuador, where they complete a 6-month Service Period. During this period participants experience the daily struggle of the Poor, by living and working shoulder to shoulder with them to develop their communities.
After 6 months in the project, the Development Instructor returns with a basket full of experiences to the Academy. During the last 6 months, the participants collect all their combined experiences of learning and working in Journal products and focus on spreading awareness and using all the new capacities to teach and inspire other people to take action for a fairer world. In this period final studies and exams are taken and plans are made for a future of fighting shoulder to shoulder to eradicate poverty.
The first 6 months of the Fighting Poverty Program are divided into two periods: The Present and The Future. These 6 months take place at Richmond Vale Academy in St. Vincent. The Fighting Poverty Program is divided into 4 different periods; the present, the future, the service period and the journal period.
During the 6 months at Richmond Vale Academy participants train themselves to become Development Instructors. Once the Present and the Future periods are completed successfully, the now qualified Development Instructors travel to fight poverty shoulder to shoulder with the people in poor rural communities in Belize or Ecuador.
The Present – 3 Months
During the first 3 months participants dig deeper into the causes and the history of poverty and inequality. The subjects are based upon understanding the different forces that run the world and the big issues of our time. The participants learn about the causes and conditions of poverty and inequality. During this period, participants also get themselves organized in the team. The starting team gets into all aspects of running a sustainable community collectively. Participants also get to know their new environments: both at and around the academy as in the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
1. Month: The forces that run the world
2. Month: Big issues of our time
3. Month: Riches and potentials of the world
The Future – 3 Months
The second part of the first period at the school is focused on the future. Based on the new knowledge and new understanding of how and why the Poor are poor, the program goes into looking at the expectations for the future, new technologies that will shape the future and ways to build a sustainable future. The Poverty Fighters also get prepared to travel to the projects communities in Latin America. They do this by studying relevant issues and by training themselves in the practical skills needed to make an impact in the communities. Topics as health, organic farming and sustainability are a big part of this period. During the last month the now qualified Development Instructors organize their travels and prepare specifically for the projects they will be working with.
1. Month: Expectations for the future
2. Month: New technologies shaping the future
3. Month: From here to the future
During the first 6 months of the program, the team of the Fighting Poverty Program – participants also raises the necessary funding for traveling to Latin America and for making the programs’ economy work. The fundraising goal for each participant is 1200,- US$.
The Service Period takes place in Ecuador or Belize. The trained Development Instructors work and live shoulder to shoulder with poor communities in Belize or Ecuador. During this period the participants serve in community development projects with the NGO Humana People to People. The service period is focused on developing poor communities in terms of vegetable production and nutrition, healthy living, education and income generating projects.
6 Months in Latin America
The Development Instructors travel in groups of 2 or 3 to their respective projects in Belize and/or Ecuador. During this period, participants live and work shoulder to shoulder with poor rural communities, working together with projects of the local NGO, Humana People to People. The projects in Belize and Ecuador are based on improving the conditions of the community through promoting organic farming to increase food security, health and hygiene campaigns, building community spirit; teaching children, youth and adults; and creating income generating and social enterprises to assist indigenous people to improve their living conditions. Development Instructors investigate through action research ways to fight poverty, conditions of the poor and creating productive cooperation between people.
Humana People to People Belize carries out a Child Aid project in Toledo District, the Southern and poorest part of Belize. The project works with around 50 indigenous Maya communities with the aim to improve the living conditions of the children.
To improve the conditions of the child the project aims to create better conditions for families and communities, in education and health systems and through increasing food security, promoting healthy living and income generating activities.
Humana Pueblo a Pueblo Ecuador carries out two different projects. The Child Aid project in Loja province and the Farmers’ Clubs project in the area of the Chimborazo volcano.
Child Aid Loja is focused on improving health and food security in remote communities. This is done through building organic vegetable gardens with local families, teaching about health, hygiene, how to prevent and treat common diseases and by developing income generating activities.
The Farmers Clubs project in Chimborazo is working in rural farming communities with the aim to create farmers’ cooperatives, improve and create sustainable farming techniques and create better living conditions for the farmers and their families.
Elements of The Service Period in Belize or Ecuador.
1. Arriving at the project in a country in Central or Latin America, ready for doing the work as needed, bringing plans and materials from the previous periods.
2. Getting to know the people at the project, the vision and idea of the project and the many concrete tasks to be carried out.
3. Carrying out the tasks as defined within the necessities of the project and by the Project Leadership.
4. Fighting Poverty right into the community: Building and organizing preschools, starting Garden Farming, doing literacy campaigns, eradicating malaria, teaching about big issues of our time, starting income generating activities – as a few examples.
5. Winning over obstacles to move matters, joining forces to get results, also when they do not come easy, inventing solutions from the means at hand, or getting hold of the means needed.
6. Studying and working with your Specialization in Fighting Poverty, finalizing with a People’s Exam and a written thesis at the end of the period.
7. Planning and going for investigation in the area, listening to stories of people from all walks of life, asking questions and getting wiser about the country you are working in and connecting it to what you learned in the first two periods.
8. Developing the project with its productions, its routines and its actions, more members, better implementation and wider reach.
9. Acquiring skills in information work: making interviews, taking notes and pictures, writing summaries and reports, recording video film.
10. Living together with the people at the project, being a good example of living a humble life while improving things with small means to better the daily life.
11. Mobilizing people for community actions.
12. Working in the Trio to make all possible improvements at the project, and cooperating and sticking together with the project leadership throughout.
13.Holding one Open Sunday each month, preparing the topics, the entertainment, the organization and mobilization of the people.
14. Making many new friends among the people you meet and work with, realizing what it means for them that you are there, and what they gain from it, also on a longer term.
Read more about the work in Latin America:
The final part of the Fighting Poverty Program is the Journal period. The Journal period takes place at Richmond Vale Academy. During the Journal period participants conclude on their 6 months of working shoulder to shoulder with the Poor.
The different trios reunite at the school and share their experiences with each other and with the new participants that now started their program at the school. The purpose of the Journal Period is to share the experience of poverty with the rest of the world through the creation of a Journal product and to conclude of 18 months in the Fighting Poverty Program. During this period the participants become key members of Richmond Vale Academy and part of the teacher council.
Reporting and Editing
The Development Instructors return from the project, meet again in the team and bring together all collective experiences from 12 months of learning, working and gaining experience. The participants then share their experiences with the school and find ways to share their knowledge with the world through creating a Journal Product; a magazine or newspaper or radio broadcasts or television programs – or a multi- media production, theater, or book – in order to bring to the public the knowledge and experience derived from the first 12 months of the program.
The News Desk
After having crafted the product, the team spends 2 months ‘on the road’ of teaching and inspiring others to create change. The Journal Product is taken on the road and shared with as many people as possible. Part of the teaching will take place in St. Vincent, talking to a lot of people. Another part of the teaching is to share the product online in as many ways as possible.
Conclusion and Preparing the Future
The last months of the program are spent on taking final exams with One World University and on making common and individual conclusions of 18 months fighting shoulder to shoulder with the poor. Participants, now equipped to take on bigger responsibilities for the world, prepare to leave the school and make individual or collective decisions about how to continue the fight to eradicate poverty.