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.
Many are the times we fail to realize how much power there is in being different. How much magic we could make by combining our efforts.” It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength — Maya Angelou “. Jacob shares with us about his dream community. One that embraces diversity among other traits.
I want to be part of a community that genuinely cares about each other, works and grows together. United at all times. A community where everyone enjoys and exercises their inalienable rights, and realizes their full potential. Where no voice is too small to be heard and everyone is committed to making the world better everyday.
However, this community is challenged in many ways. Our communities have difficulty embracing diversity and generally recognizing that all community members have a right to be heard and to participate in processes that affect their lives. People are still marginalized based on poverty, disability, age, race and ethnicity.
At Tatua, I have witnessed diverse people come together to build meaningful relationships based on trust, shared responsibility and the desire to work together towards a common purpose. This has convinced me that my desired community can become a reality.
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.