Video: Bringing Communities Together

Supporting Leaders

Video: Bringing Communities Together

27 Nov 2014

Watch our latest video about how Faiths Acts is working to bring faith communities together, increasing dialogue and understanding and reducing religious tension – helping create stable and cohesive societies. 

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Bringing Communities Together / Reducing Religious Tension

Video Transcript

Faiths Acts works to bring faith communities together, to increase dialogue and understanding and reduce religious tension – helping create stable and cohesive societies.

The approach is simple; we identify a common and urgent cause around which different communities can work together. We train faith leaders and volunteers to tackle it, use that training to bring people together and send volunteers out into their communities to take on the challenge – demonstrating that cooperation can benefit their family, friends, society and nation in a way that division never will.

Take Sierra Leone as an example, where faith leaders and their congregations are pioneering a new way of combating malaria.

Take Sierra Leone as an example, where faith leaders and their congregations are pioneering a new way of combating malaria – the biggest threat to children under five and pregnant women. In Sierra Leone malaria kills more people than any other disease and the country's public health infrastructure is overwhelmed, with only 240 medical practitioners for a population of 6 million. Working with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and the Inter Religious Council of Sierra Leone it became clear combatting malaria was a cause around which faith communities could cooperate and make a lasting change in Sierra Leone.

Faiths Act utilizes the credibility and reach of faith networks to tackle this disease and bring communities together. Faith leaders are at the centre of the effort. They are trained and equipped with the knowledge and skills to recruit, train and support community volunteers to facilitate malaria prevention.

These leaders train community volunteers, both Christian and Muslim, together. A single faith leader is able to train 30 community volunteers at a time. The training is comprehensive. Volunteers learn about how malaria is caused, prevented and treated. They learn the communication skills needed to encourage people to adopt healthy behaviours, they learn about monitoring and evaluation and they examine each other's religious perspectives on community service.

After the training, each volunteer visits at least 20 families, where they use a picture book to teach the Governments five key messages of malaria prevention. The volunteers return to the same households a month later to ensure these key messages have led to real behavioural change. In addition to the direct household visits, faith leaders run community activities, like community theatre, that bring together and educate entire communities.

This simple model – one faith-leader, training 30 community volunteers, who each visit 20 households – means that just one faith leader can directly and indirectly, through their volunteers, improve the lives of more than 600 families.

Having trained nearly 700 faith leaders, our reach is vast – an astounding 2 million people, 30% of the population, in Sierra Leone have heard our message. Over 300,000 households have been visited and over 14,000 community volunteers are learning to work together.

And the benefits of cooperation are clear to our leaders, volunteers and community members – people are using mosquito nets more frequently, the number of children who usually sleep without a mosquito net has halved and families are reporting less malaria related symptoms.

The Faiths Act model has proved tremendously successful in Sierra Leone. The wide reach of already existing networks of faith communities has made it a cost-effective and sustainable option for Sierra Leone and has ensured it is a replicable model – one that can be adopted in other countries with similar burdens.

Collaboration on a common cause like malaria highlights how faith communities can make a positive contribution towards creating secure and stable societies. By providing practical support to faith communities confronted with a common health issue, religious groups have been encouraged to work with each other and witness the benefits of cooperation.

Find out more about how the Faiths Act model can be used to bring groups together and transform their communities here