About Join My Village
Established in 2009 by General Mills in partnership with the international humanitarian organization, CARE USA, Join My Village is a unique platform that unites corporate philanthropy and public engagement to make real progress toward ending global poverty and hunger. To date, CARE programs featured through Join My Village have benefited more than five million people. Originally covering select CARE programs in Malawi and India, we expanded Join My Village in 2015 to include CARE programs in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.
Join My Village shares the stories of CARE programs that are focused on improving education access and systems, enhancing livelihoods, and increasing community and household food security in highly impoverished communities. Our work in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire includes promoting sustainable farming practices and child labor prevention programs.
Leveraging the power of social media, Join My Village shares field updates and photos from CARE team members throughout the year, enabling a growing global audience (500,000+ people) to better understand the issues and solutions on the ground and to follow the progress of individuals, families and communities participating in CARE programs.
Join My Village’s coverage of CARE programs in India, Malawi, Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana is made possible by our sponsors, General Mills and Cargill.
Join My Village in Malawi
Malawi is an inland country located in the southern part of Africa near Tanzania. The United Nations’ Human Development Index, which measures life expectancy and standard of living, ranks Malawi 164th out of 177 countries worldwide. Despite the challenges facing this small country, positive change is already occurring. General Mills has been investing in Malawi, in partnership with CARE, since 2007. Previous support has enabled communities to learn new farming techniques to improve crop yield and storage, and gain training on new business practices that complement their agricultural skills and infrastructure.
Through Join My Village, CARE is helping girls and women in Malawi with education and economic development opportunities. Join My Village supports Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) so that women have new opportunities to contribute to their families’ income. VSLAs enable small groups of village members, primarily women, to pool their savings and loan money to members within their group. When women have the opportunity to borrow money, they can start a small business, access transportation to local markets where they can get better prices for their goods, purchase school uniforms and books for their children and take care of other critical needs.
Through Join My Village, CARE has established more than 732 VSLAs in Malawi since 2009, which have more than 18,000 members who have saved more than $480,000. More than 85% of the participants are women. CARE’s research shows that VSLA programs enable women to increase their families’ income, and build self-confidence, independence, and leadership skills in the process. The VSLAs have even created scholarship fund committees in each of the 30 primary schools that Join My Village supports to enable vulnerable children to attend school.
In addition to VSLAs, Join My Village provides improved school facilities and increased access to secondary education to children, especially girls, in the villages we are serving. CARE’s field officers work with the School Management Committees (SMCs) at approximately 40 primary schools in the Kasungu district of Malawi. The committees and CARE staff work with communities to prioritize the schools’ needs and then support critical programs including of these schools from a list of program needs, such as textbooks and reference materials, secondary school scholarships for girls graduating from primary school, construction of sanitation facilities, and construction of housing for female teachers.
Join My Village in India
With a population of 1.2 billion people, India is the second largest country in the world and although it is developing quickly, more than 75% of the population still lives on less than $2 a day. In many parts of India, girls’ education is undermined by factors such as poverty, customary beliefs and attitudes devaluing girls, a limited number of schools in remote areas, and poorly trained teachers. In response, Join My Village is supporting CARE’s work to provide access to education to some of the hardest to reach children, especially girls.
CARE has piloted and refined a residential education camp model called Udaan (which means “to soar” in Hindi), designed to help girls aged 10-14 who are at extreme social and economic risk and who have dropped out of or never started school. Each annual Udaan camp session educates approximately 100 girls, who live on a residential campus together in a tight-knit community setting, along with their instructors. The accelerated courses allow girls to complete their basic primary education (grades 1-5) in just 11 months, before transitioning to formal schooling in upper primary and secondary school. The program’s curriculum includes subjects such as science, language and math, and also emphasizes a Social Learning curriculum aimed at sharpening girls’ critical thinking and leadership skills.
The syllabus that CARE has developed for the Udaan program is also used in “Special Training Centers,” which are a part of regular schools in which 8 to 12-year-olds who dropped out of or never started school are educated. The Special Training Center program has been incorporated into some of the residential and non-residential schools in Bihar and Haryana - states with highest levels of out of school children. Students who take part in Special Training in residential schools are given separate classrooms and staff while those in non-residential schools are taught along with others. At the end of the one-year program, the graduates pass on to their age appropriate classes through an exit exam.
CARE also works with the Government of India to help girls from isolated and minority communities with low female literacy rates to achieve an education at government schools known as Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalay (KGBV) which are boarding schools where girls from diverse academic backgrounds receive upper primary school education (grades 6-8). With support from Join My Village, CARE helps train teachers to be more effective in the classroom by providing practical tools they can use to engage students and help them learn in and out of the classroom. The schools also provide a Social Learning curriculum that helps students develop self-confidence, team-work, critical thinking, problem solving, persistence in the face of difficulty and respect for others.
Finally, Join My Village is helping CARE to address students’ safety and security which has a direct bearing on whether families will allow their daughters to continue attending school once they reach adolescence. CARE recently conducted a study that identified eight domains – including physical as well as emotional factors - pertaining to the safety and security of students and teachers at schools. The study, which details the national and international legislations on the issue and suggests a way forward, is being taken up by the state government and incorporated into all their teacher training. Based on the report, a teachers’ handbook to identify and rectify gaps in provision of safe and secure education in their schools is currently being developed.
Join My Village in West Africa
Join My Village is helping CARE to improve the livelihoods and living standards in cocoa farming communities in Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire. Many cocoa growing regions are impoverished and lack basic social services such as education, potable water and healthcare. With support from both General Mills and Cargill, Join My Village benefits CARE projects in 110 cocoa-growing communities in Ghana and 10 communities in Côte d’Ivoire that provide farmers with the knowledge and skills they need to increase their productivity and profitability in a responsible and sustainable way.
Join My Village is supporting CARE’s work to expand farmers’ organizations and cooperatives which help tens of thousands of farmers each year by bringing smallholder farmers together to share knowledge, gain better market access and support their local communities. Through these groups, farmers and their families are also addressing critical issues including food and nutrition security and education.
Join My Village is also supporting CARE’s farmer field schools which teach good agricultural practices such as pruning, plantation renewal, and cocoa fermentation methods. Cocoa growers who attend field schools learn better agricultural practices such as how to increase their crop yields, improve bean quality, and adopt more sustainable farming practices. In addition, farmers learn better financial management practices which help them to grow their businesses and increase their incomes. Field schools also play an important role in raising awareness of broader social issues, such as preventing child labor and promoting child education.
Finally, Join My Village is also helping increase access to education by building and improving school facilities, as well as funding teachers and providing educational materials. Join My Village supported programs are also improving access to healthcare and drinking water, as well as working to protect the rights of children and raise awareness of labor issues in farming communities.
About General Mills
General Mills is a leading global food company that serves the world by making food people love. Its brands include Cheerios, Annie’s, Yoplait, Nature Valley, Fiber One, Häagen-Dazs, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Wanchai Ferry, Yoki and more. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, General Mills had fiscal 2015 worldwide net sales of US $18.7 billion, including the company’s US $1.1 billion proportionate share of joint-venture net sales. The General Mills Foundation works to harness the power of food to nourish people and planet in lasting ways, from farm to fork.
Cargill provides food, agriculture, financial and industrial products and services to the world. Together with farmers, customers, governments and communities, we help people thrive by applying our insights and 150 years of experience. We have 150,000 employees in 70 countries who are committed to feeding the world in a responsible way, reducing environmental impact and improving the communities where we live and work. For more information, visit Cargill.com
About Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate
Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate offers its customers quality products and services they trust to help them thrive, today and in the future. We consistently deliver a wide range of products—including cocoa powder, liquor and butter, chocolates, fillings and coatings—to help customers stand out from the crowd. Cargill offers peace of mind in the short and long-term; day-to-day we work to the highest safety standards and offer insight-driven price risk management and sustainable cocoa services. For recipe development and optimization, we have seven specialized Application Centers around the world. Our insights on market and consumer trends, combined with our innovation support and consistent performance, make us a proactive partner in all major consumer markets. Cargill customers also benefit from our bean sourcing and research capabilities in key origin countries, including Brazil, Cameroon, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Indonesia. With a team of more than 3,000 passionate cocoa and chocolate experts in 35 locations, connected to 150,000 Cargill employees around the globe, we provide unique knowledge and proactive services across five continents, built on a foundation of 150 years of experience. Visit www.cargillcocoachocolate.com
Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package®, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE places special focus on working alongside poor girls and women because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty.
Our seven decades of experience show that when you empower a girl or woman, she becomes a catalyst, creating ripples of positive change that lift up everyone around her. That’s why girls and women are at the heart of CARE’s community-based efforts to improve education, health and economic opportunity for everyone. We also work with girls and women to promote social justice, respond to emergencies and confront hunger and climate change. Last year CARE worked in 90 countries and reached more than 72 million people around the world. To learn more, visit www.care.org.