Good international development changes lives and communities for the better. The change is demonstrable and it’s for the long term. We believe transformational development has six key characteristics.
What does it mean that cbm is a Christian international development organization? It absolutely does NOT mean that we provide our services only to those who accept our faith. It does mean that we strive to value every last person as Jesus values them. There are no lost causes. No one beyond God’s love and grace.
If we’re going to reach the poorest of the poor, we need to reach out into the communities where the poorest people live. We need grassroots advocates who are trusted within those communities. These are our front-line workers finding and referring people in need of medical care, helping to change attitudes in these communities, teaching parents better nutrition for their children, training moms and dads to do basic physiotherapy with their child with a disability. The official name for this way of working is Community Based Rehabilitation and we are world leaders in this field.
Not only do our services need to reach into communities, but the services need to be “owned” locally. For this reason, cbm chooses to work through local hospitals, schools, community programs, rather than setting up our own shop. This collaboration makes our work better – in terms of local expertise, cultural appropriateness and sustainability.
4. Rights Based
While providing medical and rehabilitative solutions at the family level and advocating at the grassroots community level, we also advocate for inclusion of disability within powerful, international policy-making bodies and development agencies. We work within the framework of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
There are many cautionary tales of top-down development schemes gone wrong. Without consulting the very people a program aims to serve, pumps go unused, clinics go unattended, microfinance loans disappear without return for the family… more than 100 years of experience and expertise has taught us the wisdom of “nothing about us, without us”.
The best innovation addresses real needs with real solutions. It asks how can we work smarter, faster, reach further. Here are three real solutions we are piloting…
- 3D Printability
Millions of children in our world aren’t getting the prosthetic limbs they need to walk, run, play, thrive… there aren’t enough trained prosthetic technicians to make the complex custom prosthetic limbs in need. So we are partnering with the University of Toronto and Autodesk and our partner hospital in Uganda to 3D print prosthetic sockets in 6 hours rather than hand-make them in 6 days. Hope for some of the poorest kids in the world.
- Inclusive homes for the poorest families
We do our best to avoid reinventing wheels. We’d rather partner with other global development experts in distributing emergency food aid or in microfinance loans… So it made sense that we would partner with Habitat for Humanity to pilot a joint build of accessible homes for families in Ethiopia living with the added challenge of disability. 40 homes in two years is just a start.
- Jobs, jobs, jobs…
When we ask the moms and dads we serve what they most want, they answer “Jobs” – to feed their families, to keep their kids in school, to break free of poverty. We are piloting an initiative in Malawi working with existing microfinance institutions, asking them to provide loans for people with disabilities – to make their services inclusive. We are willing to back the loan because we believe our clients will be successful in repaying their loans. We’re out to change microfinance in the countries in which we work – overcoming assumptions and stigma and opening it up to entrepreneurs, regardless of their disabilities.