Report from the field by Liz Njeri – Tatua Organizer working in Ngando.
At the Ngando Launch, held on the 7th of September, the leadership team was responsible for the majority of the work. The team members organised the event, did most of the speaking for the team and managed the logistics. Natalie brought two people interested in learning about Tatua Kenya to the event and it was great to show them how the leadership team had taken responsibility to run the campaign – it wasn’t just Tatua Organizers!
The best thing was they were so committed to not offering the community stipends or pay for coming to the event. At the beginning of the campaign even the leadership team would ask for stipends from the organization but not anymore. They kept saying, “We’re doing this the Tatua Way.”
Right now we have 239 people who have joined our movement – it’s so good to see organising in action.
Kenneth and I were talking today about the violence and the subsequent response and Kenneth remarked that this was a beautiful “Story of Us.” He is right, Marshall Ganz often teaches that a “Story of Us” is not powerful because of our homogeneous nature but because of our diversity. This weekend we saw Kenyans come together, disregard differences, and stand as one nation, one people, with one response. I look forward to celebrating the solidarity of Kenyans, to telling this story in the future. Join us in hoping that we continue to stand together.
Last night I met a dozen young boys, ages 8-11. They were not dissimilar from my own son and my mind quickly formed a connection to them. They came over to the car I was sitting in, knocked on my window, smiled and pulled me out of the vehicle. They enthusiastically talked to me in Swahili and I understood nothing. They huddled around me which felt foreign and fantastic at the same time. I didn’t need language to understand their welcome and hunger for love.
Today, I am sitting in on a meeting with Tatua community organizers Rose Chege and Jacob Okumo and founder Natalie Finstad. The essence of Tatua’s mission is to expose the power of ground up solutions. Rose and Jacob are championing a movement to help boys, like those described above, to go to school and obtain an education. Natalie coached them and helped them to develop their plan.
If you could have seen Rose and Jacob you would have been taken back. They tell me that they originally sought out Tatua because they wanted to “create change where they lived and help build their communities”. When they talked about the homeless boys they had passion in their voice a sophisticated understanding of the situation at hand. They also felt a sense of responsibility for solving the problem.
I felt humbled as an outsider watching and listening. My thoughts shifted from ‘How do we help Kenyans?’ to ‘How do you support Kenyans as they help themselves?’.
Here is some of the language they used:
· “If there is a problem in the community, we can fix it.”
· “I mobilize things in my community.”
· “ I have hope”
· “How can I help shift my communities focus from receiving to giving to one another.”
Take away: Leaders emerge in every corner of this earth. Rose and Jacob are emerging leaders. They have a fire inside them. It’s the same fire that lives in all of us when we are filled with purpose and meaning.