RE-THINKING POVERTY

Different people have a different understanding of what poverty is: lack of basic needs and necessities to survive, poverty of the mind- on grounds of how they think about themselves and lack of knowledge and understanding of what’s around them, living in the slum etc. All seem similar but quite different. On the other hand, the same applies to the solutions. How do we end poverty, make it history? Different approaches, strategies and ideas exist. The good news is, a significant number of people are really trying to create change and solutions to poverty. The bad news is, though some have succeeded, most have failed. Lasting change is a process and the answers are deeply rooted in those most affected. That is why building relationship[s and involving the communities we work in is important. Community Organizing! To end poverty, we must re-think it, ask difficult questions on why it exists and  be willing to work on the root causes . Natalie Finstad, co-founded of Tatua Kenya talks about community as the path to the future and as a way to developing sustainable and just solutions to poverty  on Natalie’s TEDex

How can we begin to examine the identities that we are assigning to people based on where they come from, their neighbourhoods etc?

How do we begin to engage in meaningful relationships with others?

Liz Njeri- Tatua Kenya community manager

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BEYOND CHARITY….

I am not an all day, 7 days a week reader thus very picky when it comes to what I read. Dr. John M. Perkins is one of the few writers that I think have so much wisdom gained from decades of experience in communities. In beyond charity, he asks and answers a few questions. This one in particular, I want to share;

How do we affirm the dignity of people, motivate them and help them take responsibility for their own lives?  By beginning with the people’s felt needs we establish a relationship and a trust, which then enables us to move to deeper issues of development.  This idea of beginning with people’s felt need is what is called the felt need concept.  It is summed up in a Chinese poem…

Go to the people
Live among them
Learn from them
Love them
Start with what they know
Build on what they have:
But of the best leaders

When their task is done
The people will remark

“We have done it ourselves.”

Some however sometimes go in like this…( in communities)

Go to the people with an agenda
Observe the people (maybe)
Tell them what to do
Enable, manipulate and take advantage of them
Even lie to them
Start with what they don’t know
Tell them what you think they should know
But the worst of leaders

will do things TO the community
instead of WITH the community
The people will ask

“What have they done to us?”

Whenever, I go through this poem, I see it in a different light. We need to affirm people’s dignity and break down the wall of distrust–before we talk to them about who we are or anything about ourselves.It’s easy for some of us to come into a situation with all the answers…because although we would never want to admit it…we see ourselves as smarter, more educated, more experienced, the list is endless.  We often think we know what is best for a community.  We force our opinions, thoughts, ideas, etc on a community. When in fact, we do more harm to the community than help.  The community isn’t transforming or coming together, but being torn apart instead. I know I don’t have all the answers and I am absolutely okay with it. In order to become a great leader you must realize that you are always a learner….are you willing to learn?

Liz Njeri- Tatua Kenya Community Organizer.

Learn :: Set Clear Goals

David Oyaga, Tatua Community Organizer in Ngando, reflect on what he’s learned about setting goals.

One of the biggest struggles I see in small community based organizations is an inability to set clear goals in their work. This means that they don’t know when they are successful. As a community organizer I am working to help our Leadership Team in Ngango focus on our clear goal of setting up a cell groups to identify ways the local community can work together so that kids to get back into school this year.