World Villages for Children and the Sisters of Mary are working with 9 of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG) at the heart of our activity. Our programmes focus on ending poverty (UNSDG1) through the provision of education to the most deprived children in the Philippines, Mexico, Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras and Tanzania
Our approach to sustainability incorporates sustainable environmental practices as well as sustainable day to day operating activities. Every aspect of life at the Sisters of Mary programmes is aimed at conserving the planet’s natural resources, sustaining the programmes financially into the future and supporting the members of our global community over the long term.
A policy of no waste, re-use and recycling is at the core of the education programmes. All the vital components needed in the care of the children including clothing, shoes and educational supplies are re-used, re-made or re-imagined for hand down to another child at the schools. This policy helps us to ensure that we minimise consumption and maximise the use of our funds (UNSDG12) – providing a good quality education for the maximum number of children and providing value for our donors’ investment in us.
The programmes are run on an efficient and sustainable basis. The Sisters of course receive no salary for their work and all WVC fundraising is channelled into the provision of care, a quality accredited education and a good start in life for the poorest children at these programmes. It still costs just £1,000 a year to cover the food, care and education costs for each of our children.
The schools are focused on responsible consumption. They maximise their economies of scale in purchasing the vital every day needs of the boys and girls. They are also moving towards self-sufficiency in some foodstuffs by growing much of their own food. This helps to feed the children, teach them respect for the planet and the vital agricultural skills they will need for the future. It also preserves donor funding and ensures future financial sustainability of the programmes.
The other facilities at the schools are conscientiously used not just for the children at school but where possible to meet the additional care needs of the wider community. This includes medical care and kindergarten/day-care centres. These facilities allow impoverished families the chance to access free healthcare, go out to work whilst their youngsters are cared for or to upskill to learn a new trade and find work.
Use of renewable energies like solar to power the schools helps to minimise the environmental impact of the schools and reduce overheads (UNSDG7). It ensures more of our donor funding goes to where it is needed – welcoming more children into a place at school. Over the last few years Solar panels at our girls school in Biga, Philippines and most recently the Solar panels at our girls school in Tanzania have provided the energy needed to power the schools and have significantly reduced the utility costs of these programmes.
Other sustainable initiatives like the new well recently drilled at the Girlstown in Guatemala give the programmes resilience against the climatic impact of drought, ensure a regular supply of water for the schools and reduce costs (UNSDG6).
By operating in such a sustainable way, the Sisters instil the values of sustainability and caring for the environment to all the children. They have a thorough environmental education and at every stage of their schooling have a deep appreciation for the care of the natural world and its resources.