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“What makes me happy in The Village is the people there, the things we are learning and the feeling that we are one.”  - Ramzi, The Village of Bethlehem

why THE VILLAGE?

The Village seeks to address social welfare and inequality in some of the most vulnerable and isolated places in the world. 

We aim to integrate people who would otherwise be excluded from society by forming ‘Villages’ which are based on the six universal pillars of:  Home, School, Theatre, Garden, Market and Sacred Space.

Working within the framework of these pillars, we support local communities to create holistic and sustainable solutions that respond to the specific geo-political and cultural contexts that they operate within.

The Village of Lesotho

In 2018, nearly 10 years after our Founder and CEO first visited Lesotho, we launched our first Village in Semonkong, Lesotho, Southern Africa.

The Village of Lesotho is in one large compound and comprises of multiple ‘Village’ elements that include an orphanage, a school and a garden. 

 

A notable part of Lesotho culture is that boys as young as five are sent to the mountains to work as Shepherds or 'Herd Boys' for local farmers.

Becoming a Shepherd is customary for economic and cultural reasons​, but this tradition takes the boys out of school early and leaves a large number of young men uneducated, with few skills & little hope for the future.

The School at The Village of Lesotho operates at night after the Herd Boys have completed their days’ work and provides basic education in Maths, English and Writing. It is also an opportunity to socialise and where the herd boys receive a nutritious hot meal, which is often their only one. 

 

This year we have also launched a skills-based training programme for the Herd Boys, focusing on metal work and glasswork.  This complements the academic lessons by offering an alternative pathway for learning vocational skills and opportunities for employment, while recognising the untapped potential which exists in the community. 

 

The Home, or in this case, orphanage, houses up to 50 children at any one time. The Village supports the maintenance by calling on the skills of our veteran volunteers, the education of the children and staff salaries, ensuring the highest holistic care for the children.

 

The context:

  • Lesotho has the second highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS and the highest incidence of TB in the world

  • Semonkong is a remote mountain region that has been deeply impacted by HIV/AIDS, TB and poverty

  • There are an estimated 400,000 orphans & vulnerable children in Lesotho

  • Many vulnerable orphans either live alone, or they are the caretakers of their younger siblings, or they live with their grandparents or extended family

  • The life of a young Shepherd or 'Herd Boy' is very isolated, with much of their time spent in the harsh environment.  Many are struck by lightning and suffer in the freezing winter conditions.

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The Village of Bethlehem

We launched The Village of Bethlehem in October 2019 to lay the foundations of our work in the West Bank.  Today, the project consists of a theatre and a sacred space where our focus is to support the mental wellbeing of individuals through the power of art, theatre and storytelling.

We are working with the local staff to build community around vulnerable young people in particular - many of whom have acquired an impairment or a disability and struggle to reintegrate back into society.

 

​The context:

  • 47% of the population in Palestine is 15 or under

  • Many suffer from anxiety, depression, have trouble sleeping and may also have physical injuries as a result of the ongoing violence

  • A high proportion of teenage boys in The Village of Bethlehem have been mentally and physically impacted 

  • The trauma experienced by individuals has resulted in PTSD and being unable to trust in, or talk to other people

  • Many boys we work with are too fearful to leave home, attend school or gain employment

  • There is a lack of technological resources, a very high unemployment rate (45%) and low literacy in the Palestinian Territories.

The Village of solihull

The Village of Solihull is the third Village, and has been formed via a partnership with Solihull Moors Community Foundation.

The aim is to support families living in the North of Solihull, taking the natural lead from our Villages in Lesotho and Bethlehem by seeking to empower the community to create a holistic support system for those facing adversity and hardship.

The Village will work with families in need to improve their wellbeing and develop opportunities for parents and children to make connections between each other and their local environment.  The district has been declared a regeneration area by the Borough Council, and The Village of Solihull will bring exciting new opportunities and spaces to families in line with this wider strategy.  

 

The context:

  • In North Solihull, 73% of children live in low income households with a lone parent

  • Those living in the area experience below average income levels, high population density and less green space per head

  • Child poverty rates are 24% higher than in the South of Solihull

  • Among all age groups, children in North Solihull are more likely than elsewhere in the borough to have a long-term illness or disability

  • These families who already see the disadvantages of widening inequality gaps are also those who will suffer most from the economic and social implications of the coronavirus pandemic.

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The Village (Village of Forgiveness) Registered Charity No. 1186107 (England & Wales)

Stody Hall Barns, Stody, Norfolk, NR24 2ED

Site and illustrations by Lydia Tissier

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