Reflections on Change

Reflection is a key practice at Tatua Kenya. It has for a long time provided a free space to share as well as invite others to create the sacred community that we want to see. One filled with enough grace to offer/ ask for help when we fail and cannot do it on our own. One where our value is not dictated solely on society’s norms but by the intrinsic value that each one of us has. One where we are allowed to be vulnerable for from it, we gather strength. For the past week we have been reflecting on transformation through change. This is what Rose Chege (Learning and Content Manager)shared……
“All of us experience change in our lives.
Change is the one constant in our lives.
There are changes that we look forward to and change that we fear.
However, one thing is for sure.
Things will not stay the same no matter how much we would like them to.

Continue reading “Reflections on Change”

RAISING THE BAR TOWARDS JUSTICE WORK

In business, the market development approach demands that an organization develop strong market systems in communities so as to increase its income and productivity. An interesting factor of this approach is the local participatory economic development. It encourages collaboration and project ownership by all acting entities within an economic market(community as a whole), i.e. government, the private sector, civil society and the local community. Majority of the time, what separates the corporate from the non-profit organizations is that one is geared towards maximizing profit while the other towards social value, respectively. However, something both worlds have in common is the connection with people: thousands of us feel the twinge of guilt as we pass by a person sleeping on the side of the street. But here is the reality, you can’t bring help and justice to the poor if you don’t know them. Continue reading “RAISING THE BAR TOWARDS JUSTICE WORK”

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.

Misunderstood or not? Charity vs Justice

Through-out my time as a community organizer I realized that very few people know much of anything about community organizing. Whenever I introduce myself and my work, over 90% of the time, I expect the questions “What does that mean? What is that?”. Very few people understand the term. A while back, I shared about my work with an american friend, Craig. The minute I mentioned community organizing, he immediately referred to me as an Obama. That got me thinking, he is familiar with the term and goes an extra step of giving an example, maybe more people know about what I do than I thought. However, he still asked me the question, what really is community organizing? Well, I answer that question almost everyday.”Community organizing is all about creating sustainable justice based institutions and building local leadership that creates an opportunity for fractured communities to have a unified voice  and the collective power necessary to get the change they want to see.”After trying to help him understand about this term, I realized that despite his minimal exposure, he thought community organizing was just about political mobilization of voters for I don’t know how long. “We have a lot of work to do”, I thought.

misunderstood

All of us at some point have been misunderstood thanks to ignorance or lack of know how. All we can do is educate and hope that our efforts bear fruit. It goes a step further than other people, ourselves. We at times misunderstand the impact our actions have on others and the world. For the next one month we will look over Charity vs Justice as regards to  Aid and Mission . What do we understand about these terms. What do you think charity is? or Justice? Are they the same thing or are they totally different? What does this mean for the efforts put in before and in the future to end hunger, homelessness, oppression e.t.c

Liz Njeri- Community Manager Tatua Kenya.