Care Groups and Neighbor Circles: The Power of the Ripple Effect
One of our core values at Feed the Children is championing partnership.
In everything we do, we recognize the immense value of cooperation, collaboration, and never going it alone. One example of this idea in action is Care Groups and Neighbor Circles.
Though they aren’t our invention, these concepts fit perfectly within our spirit of shared knowledge and effort. These groups are easy to understand, simple to start, and very effective.
What are Care Groups and Neighbor Circles?
In the countries around the world where we work, we’ve discovered that the best and most lasting change happens when people are taught by neighbors like them – peers – who they know, trust, and sometimes even love.
So Feed the Children’s health promoters train community volunteers who are chosen by their peers on a variety of topics like nutrition and food preparation, self-care for pregnant and breastfeeding women, basic hygiene, treatment of diarrhea, recognizing danger signs during child illnesses, and knowing when to seek medical care.
These trained volunteers form a community’s Care Group; each volunteer then commits to regularly visiting the same 10–15 households, which become that volunteer’s Neighbor Circle.
The Care Group volunteer visits each home in her Neighbor Circle and teaches the lessons she’s learned. In this way, a single drop of valuable knowledge ripples out to benefit an expanding circle of neighbors.
The importance of self-determination
Care Groups and Neighbor Circles also follow another important principle in the work of Feed the Children: Self-sufficiency.
We believe in the responsibility of communities to contribute their own time and resources in lifting themselves out of the cycle of poverty and hunger. That’s why we partner with each community to develop a plan that guides the work we will do together.
The community contributes volunteers, determination, and locally available materials, while Feed the Children supplies funds, materials, and know-how that the community can’t always provide on its own.
This is how our Care Groups and Neighbor Circles work: By combining our resources and efforts with those of the people we serve, we can make real and lasting change. In one large Care Group program that was designed and supported by our Chief Program Officer (in his previous work), this cooperation led to some incredible results: