It takes a village to work for physical and spiritual health.

By February 22, 2007

(MNN)– International Aid's Myles Fish says they've just launched a community
based healthcare program in 18 Muslim-dominated communities in Mindanao, Philippines.

What makes this different, he notes, is local ownership of
the project. "Once they've built the plan, we're able to identify those
things that we can help them with, and those they can do themselves. We
actually have employees that move into those communities for an extended period
of time so they can provide those services. It really is an excellent
opportunity for us to demonstrate who we are in Christ, to provide service and
then, hopefully, to have the opportunity to share our faith, as well."  

The project is already underway.  I-A's framework takes into account the need
for more than supplies and healthcare services
Their team educates to transform mindsets, values, and behaviors that
affect health.

They involve communities in learning about the causes of
illness. They also demonstrate how safer water supplies reduce diarrhea; show
local healers ways to reduce infection during and after childbirth.

Their goal: to establish self-sustaining health
programs.  Teams work to create health
models that could be replicated in similar cultures and geographic regions.

Aside from the normal healthcare services and funding needs,
they've paved the way for other believers to get involved through their Befriend-A-Village
Special Projects
. Through those, donors partner
International Aid staff and volunteers with village residents to improve
conditions affect health and wellbeing. Such projects can improve air quality,
provide safe water, operate Village Pharmacies, and train and supply
traditional birth attendants with sanitary birthing kits and training.

Fish emphasizes that their approach honors the capabilities
of the people and the cultures they serve. 
It also empowers the believers to minister as they learn how to shape
health programming. "Pray, ultimately, that we would have the chance to
demonstrate who we are in Christ, and that we'll have the opportunity to
actually articulate a Gospel message in these communities that are
predominantly Muslim."

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