The AHEAD Model:3
Responding to the priorities of the community is a key tenet within the AHEAD methodology. As poverty is the underlying cause of poor standards of living, club members often request training in new skills to enable them to earn an income at home. Training of women in particular is vital as with many breadwinners dying prematurely wives are often left without skills to earn a living. As a result of the skills they have been trained in through the health clubs in the AHEAD Programme, many women have become prime bread winners. There is a high demand for this aspect of the health club activities.
Whilst many in a community have no interest in listening to the health sessions, they often present themselves with alacrity when the time comes to start income generating projects. Men in particular are keen on this aspect of the programme, but should be restrained, as they may swamp women if allowed in without due criteria. To promote a fair system, and to protect genuine members from opportunists most health clubs pass a by-law at the outset, that only those who have completed the health sessions can receive skills training and join income generating groups. Having established by a PRA workshop what projects are appropriate and feasible, each club divides its members into smaller groups. Every group is trained in a different skill to prevent flooding the local market with too many similar products. However when choising a project, it is important the following four criteria apply:
- The raw materials should be easily available locally.
- There should be a local demand for the produce.
- Each group should have a bank account and constitution
- Each group should contribute start up costs.
The implementing agency then trains the members and donates appropriate equipment (e.g. an oil press or soap cutting machine).
The following income generation activities have been undertaken in health clubs:
- Paper Making: Raw fibre / Hand made paper & Book binding / Paper boxes, frames, & sculptures
- Bee Keeping: Honey / Candles /
- Tin Smithing: Bee Smokers / Water Ladles / Buckets / Hand-washing Facilities
- Carpentry: Top-bar bee hives / Coffins /Doors and Windows
- Cosmetics: Soap / Mosquito Repellent Vaseline
- Food Processing: Oil / Peanut butter / Dried fruit and fruit rolls / Dried vegetables / Dried herbs
- Sewing: Bee veils and overalls / Mosquito nets/ Fly covers / School Uniforms / Clothes / Patchwork
- Livestock: Goat breeding / Poultry and egg production
- Farming: Vegetables and fruit / Herbs Seedlings
Food security and a balanced diet through growing vegetables and fruit
Once basic home hygiene has been addressed and all risky practices have been changed to safe behaviour, the mothers turn to the most important aspect of child survival: ensuring not only food security, but a balanced diet so that children grow up strong and healthy. It is also critical in this time of HIV/AIDS as those affected can build up their immunity through eating wholesome food and this enables them to live longer so they can support their children. Community Health club members can be seen to be practicing a number of vital activities to ensure good nutrition all year round.
- Every health club member must have access to their own vegetable patch, either at home or in a communal garden
- The nutrition garden must grow a range of vegetables, not just one type of cabbage.
- Organic farming practices are used such as inter-cropping and mulching with compost, using no fertilizers
- Growing a range of fruit trees to ensure vitamins from ‘orange’ fruit such as pawpaws, and mangoes.
- Drying fruit and vegetables to ensure year round availability of vitamins
- Sale of vegetables to ensure women’s independent means
- Growing of oil crops and oil pressing
- Bee keeping to ensure use of honey rather than buying sugar
- Rearing of goats to ensure adequate milk for children
- Rearing of chickens and livestock to ensure adequate protein
- Making peanut butter and use of beans to ensure enough protein
6. Use of herbal remedies to treat common ailments
Being ill in a remote rural village means a difficult and exhausting trip often walking sometimes by wheel barrow or on the back of a bicycle to a clinic miles away that may not even be able to offer the appropriate medicine. Herbs have all the properties needed to cope with basic ailments but people have lost this knowledge. Africa AHEAD with Zim AHEAD has developed a 5 days training workshop which teaches the identification, growing and use of 30 common herbs. One person from each CHC is trains in this knowledge and starts s seedling nursery of herbs, which are then available for others in the village. Often Home based Carers are identified who have a register of families living with AIDS.
Many people are helped on a regular basis to alleviate the discomfort of headaches, fever and flu, eye infections, herpes, stomach complaints, diarrhoea, vomiting, urinary infections, skin diseases, worms, throat and chest infections and insect bites.
The following Herbs are being used: Amaranth, Basil, Borage, Bulbinella, Catnip, Comfry, Coriander, Dandelion, Echinacea, Feverfew, Garlic, Gotu Kola, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Lemon Grass, Marjoram, Nasturtium, Nettle, Oregano, Parsely, Peppermint, Rosemary, Rue, Sage, Thistle, Thyme, Violet, Wormwood and Yarrow.
Financial & Management Training:
Each Income Generating Group has its own Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer. One of the main constraints in the effective running of home industries is the lack of management skills and lack of understanding of bookkeeping procedures. These can easily be taught and the monitoring of IG Groups is done by a coordinator in each area to assist with correct book-keeping. Records are carefully kept of income and expenditure, and returns made to the members when there is profit. The high level of accountability has been one of the reasons that health clubs are often given bank loans or benefit from government revolving loans because they have proved their credit-worthiness, and are within a well organized system.
Adult Literacy Training:
Low levels of literacy and numeracy, especially among women can be a major cause of low self-esteem and self-efficacy. The ideal is to have one adult literacy trainer in each club, responsible for running weekly literacy classes for any member within her own club. Most villages now have a local resource person for anyone who wishes to improve their literacy. Many illiterate women have taken advantage of this opportunity, whilst some who are semi-literate have taken their high school certificates and become fully literate. This is a key aspect of empowerment of women and gender equity.