In order to create sustainable communities, SFL incorporates capacity-building programs that promote diverse participation, local responsibility, and skill development. Building local capacity is accomplished by educating individual beneficiaries and through mentoring local organizations and institutions to increase their ability to effectively work within their villages. SFL’s ultimate goal is that residents will become independent, self-sufficient, and equipped to solve their own family and community issues.
SFL incorporates beneficiary training in virtually all of its projects in order to provide long-term impact in the community. Classes are offered in both “on-the-job” and workshop formats. They are designed to offer training in life skills and to build the ability of families to function in a healthy and sustainable environment. Examples of training topics include:
• skills and vocational training
• health, hygiene, and sanitation programs
• natural disaster awareness training
• resource management and conservation
• shelter repair and maintenance
• budgeting and small business training
• peace-building and conflict resolution
SFL also introduces appropriate technologies through pilot projects, demonstration activities, and other training opportunities. Examples include improved agricultural practices, sustainable and innovative energy sources (e.g. solar energy, waste recycling, etc.), and similar technologies. SFL facilitates the partnership of experts and academia with beneficiaries to encourage the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and practical application experiences.
SFL enables residents to establish and operate community-based organizations (CBOs) that address various civic and social issues. Every CBO determines its own mission and emphasis. CBOs have been created for business training, financial credits, vocational workshop trades, women’s health education, clean water projects, community improvement projects, and HIV-AIDS and drug/narcotics awareness.
SFL’s role is that of a mentor and trainer. SFL staff work alongside CBOs, enabling them to develop their own mission, operational plan, organizational structure, and to officially register the CBO within their country. In conjunction with these activities, SFL offers training in basic organizational skills, including leadership, strategic planning, financial management, communication, grant writing, report writing, public relations, and ethics and accountability.
In addition to CBOs, SFL also works with local businesses, governments, and other institutions to promote voluntary action and creative alliances that address community needs. By building capacity at multiple levels, residents can work together and transform communities once devastated by conflict or disaster into independent, flourishing, civil societies.