The idea of setting up a community information and empowerment center started in 2009. HardtHaven Children’s Home, an HIV/AIDS children's home and UNiTED’s sister organization, received requests for support in health education from various stakeholders in the communities, especially the remote ones. However, it did not fit within the abilities of HardtHaven organization, to respond to all these requests. Besides the need for education and information, HardtHaven detected the need for an organization that would be able to pair the many international volunteers in Kpando and the international partners willing to support community with local initiatives for efficient community development. This again did not fit within the capacity of HardtHaven.
A group of local and international volunteers started discussing about a new organization that would meet these requirements and the idea of Unifying Neighbors Through Education and Development (UNiTED) was born.
The NGO’s name, mission, vision and activities were drafted. We continued elaborating on these initial ideas. A first community assessment was done. Office space was rented, painted and furnished. The initial focus of UNiTED was based on the many requests; health and health education.
A community-based assessment on health needs research was conducted in 2010, focusing on various stakeholders in health care. The bottom up, participatory approach in this research led to a thorough assessment of health needs in Kpando. Continued research on health education provided more in-depth information on the needs for health education in local schools. The outcomes of the two researches led to the design and implementation of our first projects; health information pamphlets for distribution, health education in local schools and a drama club.
UNiTED officially opened its office doors in August of 2010. Since then, we have responded to as many community requests as possible, resulting in an impressive portfolio. We have done research on seven different topics related to health concerns. We have supervised over 20 scientific researches which all led to recommendations for the strengthening of existing systems, the design and implementation of new projects, or continued research. We have successfully implemented projects focusing on health, health education, social support and education.
All our work is based on thorough research that includes stakeholders . We include as many stakeholders as possible in every step; starting with research, and continuing in project design, implementation and evaluation. We have a good cooperation and high level of trust within the local communities, but also within local organizations and authorities. We are the only health NGO in our work area and have been acknowledged and accepted by both the local and regional authorities.
Our international network consists of cooperation with partners in community development, volunteer organizations and partner schools in various countries all over the world. We receive over 100 students and volunteers per year who all contribute to our projects by sharing their knowledge and skills to improve and expand our activities.