James Njoroge, Tatua Community Organising Fellow in Madika, updates us on the campaign in Rongai to to get parents to take responsibility for their kids going to school.
Today most 1:1’s I did proved to me that most members in Kware want to point fingers and blame the government for some of the challenges facing them and their children. I took the chance to challenge them during our conversations and ask if there is anything they could do as individuals to change this. When asked that they gave me lots of answers.
I then asked if they would come together to work on this as community organising is about bring the community together, not just individuals. This showed me the common challenge in most of the community to not want to come together and forget their differences to make a difference.
Kenneth Chomba, Co-Founder and Field Manager shares about how Tatua Kenya is building partnerships for change with other organizations in Kenya.
In the past week, Natalie and I had the opportunity to visit one of Hope worldwide projects based at the heart of Mukuru kwa Reuben, one of the informal settlements in the capital, Nairobi. Hope worldwide has an incredible staff that is grounded on offering services that will help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in the slum area. In just one visit, I realized that there activities were so coherent and easily identify to their goal. I remember saying to the team that it feels like I have known this place for too long. The project is a case of worth partnerships that have worked together to develop different programs at the centre that will help steer the community towards an HIV free generation.
They have managed to offer clinical tests and management of HIV/AIDS, Counseling services, care for orphaned and vulnerable children and several tertiary courses that are taught to community members at a very minimal cost. Benson, the coordinator of the institution also brought to our attention that the land in which the centre is established was donated by the community through its local administration. The organization has been in Mukuru for a couple of years. One question I asked the team from Hope, “why do you think the spread of HIV/AIDS exists? Is it utter ignorance from the victims or lack of information about the causes of HIV/AIDS?” Most of the answers we got touched on poverty. However, we do know that there are HIV victims coming from wealthy and informed backgrounds. It is with this realization that we started looking towards a behavioral change approach to prevention of HIV/AIDS spread. Tatua Kenya is excited on the possibilities of having a fellow jointly with Hope worldwide that would work in Mukuru on an initiative towards behavior change for prevention of HIV/AIDS spread.
In the same week, Tatua Kenya hosted a public Narrative training in partnership with Children of God Relief Institute (COGRI) at their Karen Head Quarters. The training brought together COGRI alumni from Lea toto, Nyumbani Village and Nyumbani Home all part of COGRI projects. Most of the children graduating from the program are orphaned children from poor backgrounds. Tatua Kenya is looking to having a fellow jointly with COGRI that would start a campaign that looks to create, strengthen and implement policies towards the care of orphaned and vulnerable children in Kenya from the bottom going up. Tatua and COGRI entered a consensus that we would hold a one day training to build relationships with the alumni who would be potential candidates to the 2 year fellowship. Tatua is excited to start this partnership with COGRI from the overwhelming expression of interest to join the fellowship from the participants of this training. We are now on course to open the application process for the candidates in a few weeks.
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.