Salama Shield





Since 1992, SSF has worked with ethnographic researchers, faith leaders, traditional healers, local mentors (such as respected aunts and uncles), and budding entrepreneurs in Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Uganda to make meaningful, sustainable differences in communities.




To sustainably mitigate critical health and development needs for vulnerable communities.



To strengthen communicative processes between stakeholders in fulfilling the vision.


Our community-led programs take a uniquely compelling and sensitive approach to HIV/AIDS prevention, small business development (including micro-loans), gender-based violence (GBV) intervention, and addressing food insecurity, poverty, education, and water, sanitation, hygiene (WASH) issues.


While we maintain a head office in Canada (CRA registration #890627672 RR 0001), the Ugandan branch (SSF-Uganda) has taken an organizational lead in Africa, formally and independently registering itself as an Indigenous NGO in 2021. We are currently expanding our scope to replicate our best practices and processes within Canadian ethnocultural community settings.


The African philosophy of ubuntu shapes and informs our legacy to “do development differently.” Ubuntu is a Nuguni Bantu term that translates as:



I am who I am (my being),

 by virtue of my presence with others in community (my belonging),

and our shared desire to be fully human (our becoming).



This can be interpreted as, “I am who I am because of who we all are together in community.”

Scientific Methodologies

SSF emerged as a result of HIV/AIDS behavioural science research conducted by Dr. Dennis Willms and Dr. Nelson Sewankambo. Our work continues to rely on the scientific methodologies that were instrumental in our organization’s founding:


Participatory Action Research (PAR). An approach where research findings and insights are translated into action, with an emphasis on the participation of members of the communities affected by that research.


Intervention Science. The development and implementation of screening, treatment, and prevention models within – and in the service of – at-risk or vulnerable communities.


Ethnographic Science. The study of individual cultures and cultural phenomenon. This includes the examination of the behaviour of participants in given social situations, and understanding group members’ own interpretation of their behaviour.


Translation Research. The exploration of how scientific work can move into practice and have impacts that benefit society.


Dialogical and Conceptual Events (CEs). A means of engaging with partners and community-based stakeholders where they are involved in early and inclusive discussions, problem-solving, and decision-making.


In addition to embracing the philosophy of mbuntu, SSF believes in:


Enablement and Empowerment. We partner with enabled communities who are “intentionally nudged” to advocate, claim, and secure their health and well-being.


Respect. All voices matter. We listen to each other and are fully open to hear local, indigenous voices expressed in stories that reflect their felt-needs.


Commitment. Community needs are a central focus for our work. We pledge to ensure that social, cultural, and felt-needs will always shape how our work is conducted and evaluated.


Integrity. We demonstrate transparency and accountability to community stakeholders, our partners, donors, and beneficiaries.


Innovation. We promote the authentic revitalization of indigenous social institutions in addressing the health and development needs of communities. We believe this is a sustainable path to generating mindful, progressive, and imaginative change.


Dennis G. Willms, Ph.D.
Founding Director / CEO, Salama SHIELD Foundation

Bruce Scott, M.A.
Salama SHIELD Foundation – Canada Director
Consultant and Director to a number of Nairobi-based Agroforestry Research Institutes


Justin Student, M.A.
Salama SHIELD Foundation – Canada Director
Instructional Designer, MEDlT Educational Technology Unit
University of British Columbia

Jason Theede, M.PH.
Salama SHIELD Foundation – Canada Director
Senior Specialist – Labour Mobility & Human Development
IOM – UN Migration Agency