Wellbeing is an interconnected idea of one individual’s wellbeing is affected by another individual’s actions. The understanding of wellbeing and its interconnectedness is an idea that for years had been missing in Yandohun community. The elderly and less privileged were not valued, given that the community regarded them at fault for their own problems. At 75 years old, Mama Jenneh was one of the oldest women in Yandohun, and had been isolated by her own children, relatives, neighbors and the entire community.
Yandohun is one of the villages in which OneVillage Partners has introduced a different model of development. The approach focuses on creating an equal platform for participation, opening the minds of communities to realize and effectively utilize their available resources, enhance mobilization, and above all train community volunteers to become change agents for the future. Gradually, the community welcomed the approach and attended meetings in large numbers. Mama Jenneh, previously seldom seen in public gatherings due to her reputation, became a regular figure in all meetings scheduled by OneVillage Partners. Together, the community mapped, envisioned and voted to prioritize the needs of the community, a process that is led and facilitated by community volunteers with technical guidance from OneVillage Partners’ staff. This process is designed to be accountable, transparent, inclusive and community led, and has been perceived as such by the community of Yandohun.
As the local volunteer leaders designed and developed a comprehensive plan for their community, they were introduced to the concept of wellbeing and its interconnectedness. While implementing the project, which aimed to provide a cleaner environment by building hygienic kitchens and animal pens, the community worked together to make it a success. The concept of wellbeing was an integral tool in achieving this goal. All households in the village would be able to benefit from the project if they could work together. Community members were able to mobilize local materials and financial support, but Mama Jenneh was unable to do so because of her age. As the implementation proceeded the volunteers realized that the project would be incomplete or might partially fail if the less privileged were not aided. This was a turning point for Mama Jenneh and the entire community. Households mobilized and contributed bricks, sticks, sand and some financial support to construct a kitchen for Mama Jenneh. With this step, the entire community felt relieved and comforted as such unity was never expected. The community was proud to see what they could achieve when they had a united vision and were able to support those less fortunate than themselves.
Finally, Yandohun, a community once viewed as being self-centered, unable to unite to make constructive community decisions, and weak in addressing core social challenges is enjoying a transition that is participatory and sustainable. They now mobilize to meet the needs and safety of the elderly and less privileged and they have the ability and desire to identify and collectively solve community challenges. All across the community people are acknowledging that an individual’s wellbeing is affected both by their immediate family, and by the entire community and thus they have a collective responsibility.