So what’s so innovative about Brick by Brick anyway? Let’s start with where we work:
Since 2004 Brick by Brick has been creating strong grass-roots partnerships with rural communities in the Rakai District of Uganda. People often ask, why do you work in only one district? Why not take your programs across Uganda, or even to other countries? To understand why we work in one district, it is necessary to know how we work. It takes time to build trusting relationships with local government, civil society and the rural communities who are our full partners in all of our programs. Confining our work to a discrete a geographical area allows us to become a trusted partner with small rural communities, where the majority of people live, as well as with local government, essential to any effective work in sustainable development. Partnership is not a one-way street. Building trust allows for effective collaboration, with full engagement of all stakeholders. For example, the fact that we have been working in one district for fourteen years means that we are an organization that can be trusted to deliver on our commitments. In Uganda, people talk about ‘brief case NGOs’, well-intentioned westerners who come into Uganda with a big idea and are gone before any real progress can be made. After fourteen years, our Ugandan neighbors know Brick by Brick is here to stay.
Okay, so working in one region allows you to build powerful partnerships. But what is so unique about the work itself?
The graphic above summarizes our process. The key component to our success is the full engagement of our local partners from start to finish. Take our School Program as an example. We partner with three primary school communities over a two-year period and completely re-build crumbling infrastructure. However, the program doesn’t start with the laying of the first brick. Rather, we assess up to ten school communities and select three based on both need and a track record of community engagement and success in previous projects. We then meet with parents, teachers and administrators and develop a cooperative work plan that guides our partnership. Each community makes an in-kind contribution of 25% of the value of the project. This partnership model defines each of our programs, whether it is the engagement of the Ministry of Health and hundreds of local providers in our Babies and Mothers Alive Program, or the 100 peer educators trained to help to facilitate our DREAMS/My Pads educational program in sixteen secondary schools. Our partnership model is strengthened by our reliance on local leadership. Between our three core programs and our social enterprise, Brick by Brick has a skilled staff of 35 people, of which 32 are Ugandans, most from the very communities we serve.
So it turns out that the ultimate experts on how to lift the world’s poor out of poverty and to improve health and education may not be found in the carpeted conference rooms of think tanks or the podiums of conferences. The ultimate experts are found in the communities we serve. They along with our staff are rich in ideas, experience and local knowledge. What they need is the catalytic power of seed capital and resources. And that is where you, our community of friends and supporters comes in. Your investment in Brick by Brick allows us to be a catalytic converter for sustainable development, providing resources to our partnering communities that they can use to improve health, education and economic opportunity. Please partner with us today by clicking here: BE AN INNOVATOR THAT CHANGES LIVES!