The Minga Foundation officially began in 2003 as Foundation Human Nature USA, one of five branches of Foundation Human Nature International (FHN).
In 2001, a medical student from Germany was approached by community leaders in El Páramo after the region had experienced a severe outbreak of cerebral malaria. The leaders expressed their desire to build a health post in the region so people would not have to travel ten hours to reach medical services in the nearest city. Martin Eckhardt, the medical student, took up this challenge and returned to Germany where he established FHN to raise funds and support the implementation of the health project. In 2002, the health center (El Subcentro de Salud) was constructed through the coordinated efforts (or “minga”) of the region’s 26 villages. In November 2002, an agreement was signed between regional representatives of the health center (El Comité de Salud), FHN, and the Ecuadorian Ministry of Health. As part of this agreement, the Ministry of Health provides a rural doctor, nurse, dentist, and obstetrician to serve as resident staff at the health center. It was also during this period that Karin Friederic and Jessica Levy became involved in the implementation of the health project, and soon thereafter, they founded the USA branch of FHN.
When FHN USA was founded in 2003, we shared responsibility for operating the health center with FHN Germany, FHN Ecuador, and the local health committee. The Subcentro de Salud continues to offer quality primary health care to over 6,000 people. The health center also provides health outreach by training community health workers and organizing medical brigades to the communities throughout the region. In addition, staff and volunteers have implemented vaccination campaigns, family health and domestic violence workshops, waste management projects, a medicinal plant garden, and the first regional library. Since we first became involved in the project, we have encouraged community participation, local ownership, increased capacity, and the clinic’s sustainability.
In 2010, we decided it was time to bring these types multi-faceted partnerships, grounded in community energy and capacity building, to other underserved communities around the world. We therefore separated from Foundation Human Nature (the German branch continues to support the Ecuadorian health project). As the Minga Foundation, our primary objective is to identify, collaborate with, and support other newly emerging community organizations with significant potential for transformative work. See our recent projects for more details on this work!