Shifting their focus from abandoned children to training nurses has allowed this tiny Australian charity to leverage their impact in Myanmar by 300 times. This strategic change has been reflected in a new name: Exousia.
Exousia is a Greek word meaning authority or power, and for the team represents the role of knowledge and self-empowerment in breaking the cycle of poverty.
For project leader Tammy Sooveere, changing her organisation’s name from MyKids to Exousia was about representing the evolving mission of the organisation- to break the cycle of poverty and create empowered communities, not only for children.
Their story as an organisation is one of fast learning, rapid growth and substantial impact on a shoestring. The team originally worked to improve nutrition for orphans and abandoned children in Yangon, however realised that by shifting their focus to the root causes of malnutrition and poverty, they would have a much bigger long-term impact.
Myanmar has the lowest per capita healthcare budget in the world. 30 per cent of children are clinically malnourished and at least 1 in 5 people have diabetes. Add the novelty of access to highly processed foods, new information and Western traditions and the risk of chronic disease and malnutrition increases.
Observing the transformation of Myanmar over the years, particularly with the advent of new democracy in 2013, founders Tammy and Phil, with the indispensible support of Exousia’s core team, Amy, Phill and Tahlia, saw a great opportunity to harness the growing thirst for knowledge.
Exousia aims to “break the cycle of poverty and create empowered communities” by delivering holistic programs for long-term impact. At the centre of this is harnessing the power of food as medicine and delivering traditional and fundamental nutrition training and education.
Tailoring their activities to achieve large-scale impact, Exousia works closely with nursing colleges and local communities to identify training and education opportunities. They also work with impoverished families to enable access to childcare and education. The goal is to avoid preventable disease and death; to support long-term financial independence; to revolutionise the way in which individual and population health and wellbeing is realised.
By equipping the next generation of community health workers with the knowledge they need to navigate a modern world, this project is achieving long-term impact on a huge scale, with each nutrition-trained health worker reaching at least 300 people per year. In providing holistic education to over 3000 community members, it is likely that this knowledge will be imparted to each of their family members.
The potential is far-reaching and wide in scope.
Exousia’s vision is to provide holistic, preventative healthcare and education to empower communities to take control of their own health and wellbeing.
For the ambitious team at Exousia, Myanmar is just the start.