Tatua was connected to Mankama’s Blog, Development for Development, through one of our linkedin.com groups. Mankama and Tatua share the same commitment to developing a country rather than changing an individual and to shifting development to a culture of choice rather than charity.
Mankama writes powerfully about the changes needed in the development structure in Ghana, his home in West Africa. We see the same need to SLOW down, listen and hear what is being said underneath the words. We wanted to share some of his thoughts. Mankama is on staff at Clash International.
Sometimes, It’s Who You Are That Matters
From a very young age I learned that when you hear the three letters: N, G, O, it means someone is coming to give you something. Maybe a mosquito net, a community tractor, or a t-shirt. I came to learn how outsiders defined our underdevelopment as if I read it in a text book. Later, when I actually read it in a text book, I couldn’t help but laugh. If someone from outside asked, “How can we help?” or, “What problems do you see in your community?” Any one of my neighbors would recite as if reading from some shared list: malaria, water, fertile land, electricity, etc. However, if I were to ask any of my neighbors these same questions, I wouldn’t receive any of these responses. And in that discrepancy lies much of what plagues development initiatives today.
Emma Wambui was a member of the 2010 Leadership Team. She recently was asked to share about her take on community development and wrote the following.
My name is Emma Muthoni. I am a 24 year old Kenyan born resident so I have enjoyed the perks and suffered the consequences of having a developing country as my motherland all my life. In November 2010, I met Natalie Finstad, an American born citizen who had just moved to Nairobi and was intent on bringing change to the poverty stricken slums of the Kenyan capital. Natalie was not only an inspiring leader (which she continues to be) but she also became a good friend and a great teacher. It was then that I became one of the eleven initial founders of Be the Change Kenya (BTCKE) in which Natalie was the director. After undergoing a Leadership Training developed by Marshall Ganz (Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government), I was well equipped to handle the tasks ahead of me.
My position in the organization was that of a Local Community Liaison and my responsibilities included but were not limited to organizing speaking opportunities for the organization,recruiting of volunteers for the organization and mobilizing donations. Working with such a young organization was both taxing and rewarding. I got to learn new things about my country and the world as well. I realised that it was possible for the world to sustain itself. That the resources needed for poverty eradication were available and all we needed was to get an efficient way to distribute these resources. Even though I am no longer engaged with the daily activities of BTCKE, which has now changed its name to Tatua Kenya, this is a gratifying experience I have carried with me since. It has not only made me a wiser human being but I am also more aware of the world around and beyond me.
I was truly blessed to be apart of this mission trip. As I started my work with Natalie Finstad, with Trinity and began working with (the Diocese of Massachusetts), I saw things come together so well. Things started to make sense for me, why I was doing mission with certain churches, why I was with (the Diocese of Massachusetts), why I did mission at all … It all makes sense. And it changes how I look at everything.
We got back from Kenya on Monday, and as excited as I was to go, and I am so much more excited to come back, to share stories, to continue in my relationship with Tatua and the community organizers in Rongai, and the boys at Nyumba Ya Tumaini (House of Hope). I saw the kids at Trinity open their minds to a new kind of mission. Throughout the year, it was difficult to think mission would change for them. But as soon as we sat down with the boys at Tumaini, everything changed for them too. I can’t believe how much love, hope and power was in that group of young people. And that was the first day. Every single day and moment in those days increased my hope for the church and for the healing of the world. This is why I do mission. And this is how we do it.