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Affiliated Organization: Global Brigades USA
Group: Microfinance & Water Brigades at Loyola University Chicago
Volunteer Activity Description
Volunteers on a Microfinance Brigade spend seven days in a rural community of Honduras. Prior to the brigade, GB staff trains community leaders who act as the executive board members of the community bank called the Caja Rural. Throughout the brigade, volunteers divide into groups where they visit several families in their homes. During the community visits, volunteers develop an understanding of the families’ ways of life, aspirations, and financial literacy. Following the visits, the students hold a community meeting about the Caja Rural focused on topics such as budgeting, savings incentives programs, and loans. At the end of week, students determine how they will allocate their CIF(community investment fund), whether it may be to an individual family or a lump sum donated to the Caja. One of the major advantages of the GB microfinance model is that the Cajas Rurales are entirely owned and operated by the communities. Therefore, all of the community members have the opportunity to benefit collectively, and the students work directly with individuals empowering them to become more financially stable and establish economic growth within their communities.
Additionally, Water Brigades Volunteers assist in designing and implementing water systems to prevent water related illnesses in communities with limited access to clean water. With a sufficient quantity of properly treated water community members can cut off the connection between water and illness and ultimately live healthier more productive lives. In-country team members work with community leaders to design large scale water systems for the entire community. Once planning and design is complete, volunteers work side-by-side with community members to construct the water system. Additionally Water Brigades and its volunteers provide education and training so that the community can properly administer, operate, and maintain their water system. A Water Council and Basic Sanitation Committee are established in communities to ensure the sustainability of the community’s system as well as to improve sanitation and hygiene practices. In collaboration with Public Health Brigades, Microfinance Brigades, and the Global Brigades Honduras Research & Evaluation team, WB is working to identify communities with the most need. With a holistic approach to development we plan to continue working with communities to improve their health and standard of living through the most fundamental resource on the planet, water.
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