Tatua Kenya was born out of a combined desire of people across the world that wanted a new way of addressing poverty. For years, people have been treating poverty in a very ‘simple’ way.
Donors see a poor rural community, where access to water is a problem. Wanting to support the community they quickly donate for the building of a water well. For a few months, even a year, people draw water from the well and the community is doing better. Unfortunately, the well develops a mechanical error 18 months after being built. Who will fix the well?
The community writes to the donors, “Please come fix your well.”
The donors, frustrated, respond, “We gave you the well, it’s yours, fix it.”
The community would of course, love water but they don’t have the skills or resources to fix the well. More so, they did not invest in the building of the well so they are not invested in the maintenance of the well. Within months the well is overgrown with weeds and discarded. The money invested in the original building of the well has gone down the drain.
Unused wells cover the plains of Africa as a sign of short-sighted development projects. While these gifts produce an immediate alleviation of a problem, they fail to bring about the long-term change needed to really end poverty.
Building infrastructure without building a community infrastructure is not sustainable, and does not change the face of poverty. As soon as this gift runs out or that donor leaves, poverty returns. In fact, to define a community of deserving of aid, poverty is exaggerated, and cannot disappear, otherwise so does the funding. Then the waiting begins…. waiting for another donor to come “solve the problem.”
Tatua Kenya recognizes this belief that some one else needs to ‘solve your problem,’ as real poverty. Poverty is more than a lack resources; it is a belief that you are in fact, inferior to the people who hold those resources. It is a belief that you do not have the power to create your own solutions.
Tatua Kenya believes there is another way.
In 2011 Sarah Welch, Kenneth Chomba and Natalie Finstad started a grassroots campaign to end child poverty called Be the Change – Kenya. Be the Change – Kenya offered local leaders the chance to create solutions to child poverty with their own resources.
Something amazing happened through Be the Change -Kenya; kids were clothed and fed. Beyond this, as the local community came together, they became more hopeful and excited about their ability to impact poverty. Instead of waiting for a solution, they became the solution and in doing so their impact increased exponentially.
It did not take long for other organizations and individuals to recognize this growth and begin to ask how the community organizing principles behind Be the Change- Kenya could affect their own work. The Be the Change – Kenya Team began to work with other leaders in the Kenyan communities to spread the solutions developed through Be the Change – Kenya. It didn’t take long to see that Be the Change – Kenya was growing into something more, something rooted in the solutions of community organizing rather than a specific issue.
Tatua Kenya was founded as a way of serving Kenyans who understand the power of community organizing and want new solutions to poverty. Since our launch in 2012 we have worked with over 50 different community movements in Kenya, a Pan-African campaign and an international campaign. We have worked on issues of prison care, youth civic engagement, health care reform and gender equality. In less than a year we’ve affected over 1,000 individuals involved in starting movements and thousands of people served by those movements.
This work is far from simple, but together we will come up with a real solution to poverty in Kenya.