The work of World Neighbors first made a strong impression on me in the mid 1990s as a college student studying international development at the University of Oklahoma when I did volunteer work at Headquarters. Now I am honored to serve on the Board of this well-established organization that after many decades of work continues to be both cutting edge and fresh in approach in working with communities. The holistic methods of WN are smart, long lasting and important in stabilizing many communities around the globe. I am honored to support this amazing organization in its continued success.
I have had the opportunity to see first-hand what a terrific job World Neighbors is able to do by taking a long-term approach to enabling villages in very poor regions of the world to solve their most important problems whether it be water, HIV-Aids, access to health, or food security. I visited villages in the Lake Victoria area of Kenya where villagers had leaned how to live productive lives with HIV-Aids, water sources had been purified, regional health centers had been build, and families not only produced enough food for themselves but also had enough to sell in the market. What is so remarkable is that it is the people who identify their most critical problems, develop a plan for solving them and provide the leadership to implement the solutions. World Neighbor's staff guide the process and identify the technical knowledge that is needed but they don't "do it for the villages." The result is that after a few years, World Neighbors can move to other villages and the work that has been accomplished continues because the local people own the solutions and have the knowledge to continue the work. The work is remarkable!
In July 2010, my wife and I had the opportunity to observe the work of World Neighbors direction in East Africa. I was emotionally moved by the testimony of the people in the villages in Kenya and Tanzania where World Neighbors works. To witness three projects in three different phases of development was an incredibly valuable look at how World Neighbors works with local leadership to create the capacity for long-term and sustainable community renewal and development. The "guide by the side" work that I saw illustrates the power of the World Neighbors' work.
Review from Guidestar
I've seen first hand the amazing work World Neighbors does in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world. Its work inspires people and helps communities identify and address their own particular circumstances and needs. There is no 'one size fits all' approach to its methods. World Neighbors works with community leaders through a long term and collaborative process to understand and address key challenges facing the community whether it is sustainable agriculture, micro-credit facilities, public health etc....very much a 'teach a person to fish' role. The impact of World Neighbors work extends far beyond the community leaders and volunteers with whom WN works most directly....like ripples emanating from a stone tossed into a pond, the results of World Neighbors work spread far into a community and its neighbors. A truly exceptional international development model.
I've been on two trips to see World Neighbors' field programs - one to Ecuador and one to Peru. Far off the main roads and out where the campesinos walk in from distant hillside fields with their crops, I met men and women whose lives had been transformed to the good by programs started by World Neighbors. Each story shared the basic truth that World Neighbors helped by bringing the right tools to the community it worked with - whether that was a dialog on village priorities, the mechanics of a micro-finance cooperative or how to terrace hillsides for optimum irrigation. In each case the people learned how to use the tool, took pride in using it well, spread the word to friends and neighbors about it and thereby spread the benefits far and wide. World Neighbors.
Review from Guidestar
Because It is my good fortune to live in Oklahoma City, headquarters of World Neighbors, I have known about this organization since I heard a program at our church about 20 years ago. My husband and I thought the integrated and respectful approach to solving problems that World Neighbors brings to the most deprived villages made so much sense, we were anxious to learn more. The more we learned, the more impressed we became. Following our World Neighbors Journey to Ecuador 5 years ago, we became even stronger advocates. We were able to meet the outstanding field staff, mostly people from the area, and the villagers who told us how much WN had improved their lives. Many women said that without WN their husbands would have needed to go to another country to find work to send home money. But with the help of WN their families now had enough food and healthy living conditions for the family to remain together in their village. We are now looking forward to a World Neighbors Journey to Peru in a few weeks.
Review from Guidestar
I first learned of World Neighbors in 2005 from a then board member. As an international development professional, I am impressed by World Neighbor’s commitment to equity and its integrated approach to development. World Neighbors lets people set their own goals and thus strengthens communities to find lasting solutions to hunger, poverty and disease.
Review from Guidestar
I've been on the board of World Neighbors for several years and have seen it expand and contract in its ability to do what it does so well--serve some of the poorest communities in the world with education and organization of mostly local resources, helping those communities to help themselves with agriculture, ecology, health care, and capacity building. The work of WN has been a model for other non-profit groups in international development, but I doubt if any other group does the basic work of building infra-structure and encouraging community self-help as World Neighbors. It remains a model of efficiency and good work.
Review from Guidestar
I first was introduced to World Neighbors by a former Women's Studies professor at the Univ. of Oklahoma, Betty Harris. I had NO idea that an international development organization that has helped millions become self-sufficient was based in Oklahoma City. Ever since I learned about World Neighbors, I have been spreading news about their good work to everyone I meet. World Neighbors approach to ending hunger, poverty and disease is unique, effective and enduring. Our staff is amazing, the board is professional, committed and engaged and our leader, Melanie MacDonald is an inspiration to us all.
I first learned about World Neighbors 11 years ago, when I met its CEO and board chair at a conference in Washington DC. I was amazed to learn that it was then 46 years old because it was clearly doing important and effective international development work but I had never heard of it before. Since that time, I have joined the board of trustees and, in addition to my board work, have traveled to Ecuador, Guatemala and Karnataka, India to visit World Neighbors programs. During those visits, I have met many program participants, shared meals with them and learned first-hand from them how World Neighbors programs have changed their lives in very positive and lasting ways. World Neighbors works only in rural areas of developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Often, it works with communities and villages so remote that no other development organizations are willing or able to work there. World Neighbors makes long term commitments to the communities it engages with and typically remains in an area for 8-10 years. By making long term commitments and carefully planning both its entry into new communities and its exit strategies, World Neighbors ensures that the progress made while it is engaged with communities will be sustainable for decades after it has moved on to new communities and other regions. There are villages in rural India where World Neighbors first worked in the late 1950s that are still thriving in ways that neighboring communities have never done, because those communities participated in World Neighbors programs decades ago. It is hard to find other development programs that have achieved such long lasting success, no matter where you look around the world. World Neighbors always focuses its work on those areas of need that its program participants think are most important to them. It never enters a new region with pre-conceived ideas about what the people there need. However, some problems are universal in the developing world and often include issues of food security and sustainable agriculture, environmental conservation, access to clean water and family and reproductive health. Many communities are also interested in working with World Neighbors to establish micro credit associations, leadership development programs and gender equity programs. Together, these types of programs, which World Neighbors implements through partnerships with local non-governmental organizations staffed by local people, are able to significantly improve the lives of those who participate in them. Some of the tangible outcomes include greatly increased food security through sustainable agriculture, enhanced methods of environmental conservation, adequate shelter for the entire family, access to health care and and clearn water, smaller, better spaced and planned families, and more opportunities for education and income generating activities, especially for girls and women. All of these add up to increased self sufficiency, greater confidence among participants in their own ability to provide for their families, greater self respect, and above all, hope for a better future for themselves and their families.