A group of mothers await immunisation of their infants. CHWs play an important role in such drives. The New Times

After undertaking training through the PEACE Plan, a faith -based project, he began volunteering as a Community Peace Servant (health worker) to serve his community.

Gradually, he has impacted society and helped many to improve their livelihoods and health by sensitising them about prevention of diseases and other health related issues.

“For the past three years, I have taught a number of people in my district on prevention of diseases such as malaria, preparation of kitchen gardens, proper nutrition and ways of improving hygiene among others.”

He is also equipped with first-aid skills to pay heed to any health complications in his community.

By mobilising people from churches of all denominations in Karongi District, the PEACE Plan Project began with a group of 23 health workers five years ago.

This initial lot went through a two months training programme, after which they were deployed to transform the community, not only spiritually but also in terms of physical health.

These were supposed to serve the purpose of community health workers and teach people how to prevent diseases, encourage them to take medication and pay them regular visits to ensure they are in good physical health as well feed their spiritual lives.

According to Moses Ndahiro, the PEACE Plan training Coordinator, the 23 people they started with also trained over 317 others only in Gishura Sector, Karongi District.

“We are now operating in eight sectors and have a total of 1,089 health workers with over 4,000 under training now, who will be graduating by end of July. We have mobilised churches to move out of their comfort zones and serve the community.”

He noted that even if they partly serve as Community Health Workers, they are known as Community Peace Servants (CPS’) since they meet both physical and spiritual needs of the community.

Ndahiro said that the Community Peace Servants are required to be models of what they teach. The CPS’ are also trained on how to generate income and develop a culture of saving. They are also integrated into savings groups.

He observed that Karongi has one of the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in the country, thus training about 100 people to support persons living with HIV/AIDS.

In an interview, Rick Warren, the founder of the PEACE Plan project, noted that a country must have three sectors in order to grow; the public, private and the religious sectors.

“The church can do a lot more than spiritual development to improve the livelihood of the communities. In order to reach the community, one must use the church. The Church can become the distribution centre for health care. Therefore, Rwanda will develop much faster if we involve and mobilise the church,” Warren emphasised.

He stated that 25 per cent of healthcare in Africa is undertaken by the Catholic Church. Karongi District has three hospitals, two of which were church founded, according to Rick Warren.

The church can do it better, faster and cheaper than any NGO, says Warren.

He revealed that other nations like Sierra Leone, Zambia and Nigeria have been asking him to bring to their nations what the PEACE Plan project has achieved in Rwanda.

Warren noted that plans are underway to have the PEACE Plan Project spread to other districts across Rwanda.

“The PEACE Plan Project is helping Rwanda to achieve Vision 2020 through its long-term development programmes aimed at promoting reconciliation, equipping servant leaders, assisting the poor, caring for the sick and educating the next generation.”

One of the beneficiaries, Anastasia Yankurikiye, 45, said:“My children no longer suffer from malaria because I have learnt how to prevent them from getting infected courtesy of this project.”

She added that besides encouraging them and praying for them, they also taught them how to live healthy and purposeful lives

By Maria Kaitesi, The New Times

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