What makes IsraAID unique? Our community-based approach

This year in June, we held our annual Leadership Seminar. The seminar brings together representatives from every one of our country offices at our Headquarters in Israel. As a global organization working locally across six continents, these opportunities to gather staff from around the world are precious. They are a chance to meet face-to-face, get to know one another, learn from one another, and share what makes IsraAID so special.

At the seminar, we asked our colleagues what they think makes IsraAID unique. One theme came up repeatedly – our community-led approach. At IsraAID, our strength comes from acknowledging and working with the unique social and cultural context of each country and community that we work in, letting communities take the lead, and focusing on building capacity within the community itself.

“The community is the driver,” says Jemimah Owande, the Child Protection Technical Lead at IsraAID Kenya. “As we enter a community, we engage community leaders who can understand the culture, who are able to define what change means to them, and they are actually able to take leadership with support from IsraAID,” she says.

“Increasing resilience means having stronger communities,” says Nicole, the Country Director of IsraAID Dominica. She explains that to really make communities stronger we need to increase community members’ capacity at all levels of society, “We need to consider small children, younger adults, and people living with disabilities. In Dominica, we have to recognize the diversity of the community, and think about indigenous communities as well.” She adds that “what makes IsraAID different is that we are strongly connected with the communities, and we are a part of the communities.”

Many of our staff members and community outreach workers come from the same communities we work with. We are also always working with local organizations, Sara, our Program Manager at IsraAID Mozambique points out. “We are looking to work with community-based organizations. And I think our work is very grounded within the community itself and empowering the people from these communities.” 

Taking our lead from the community means that we’re not only attempting to create solutions to problems that communities face but also giving them the skills to maintain these solutions independently. For example, our IsraAID Colombia Country Director Karina told us about a water project that IsraAID implemented in an indigenous community in Bolivar, Colombia. “We not only give the solutions or the technology to the community. We empower the community to manage the system so that when IsraAID is no longer there, they have the power or the knowledge to manage the systems and keep the system going and get potable water for the families and their households,” she says. 

Daniel, our Acting Country Director at IsraAID Uganda, talked about the changes he sees in the communities we work with and how the community-led approach empowers people. “Yes, the community has some problems they are facing, but at the same time, the community has the solutions to these problems. The communities get to know that they are at the center of finding solutions to their own problems. It has awakened the communities to know that they can create their own solutions; they can solve whichever problems they have been going through,” he says. “So there is a lot of resilience that has been built, and a lot of new life that has been brought back in people. People now have hope that even without the help of organizations, we can be able to live, which may not have been the case before we entered into this community.”

If this type of community-based work inspires and excites you, you may be a good fit for the IsraAID team! Check out our open job opportunities here!