Reflect :: Response to a Tragedy – Creating a Story of Us

Letter from Natalie Finstad, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Tatua Kenya 

Kenya Candle

 

Dear Tatua Family,

As you might have heard, this weekend Nairobi was hit by a wave of senseless violence, the Al Shabaab terrorist group attacked a shopping mall in Nairobi’s Westlands area. The entire Tatua Kenya team is safe, thank you to all of you who have kept us in your prayers and heart.

It is clear that Kenya is responding to this tragedy with the hand of grace. The attack was very disconcerting, it’s never easy to know that violence is close to your home, however the response from Kenyans has been beautiful.  Crowds of people showed up to donate blood, women carried cooked food to the soldiers, Kenyans of all colors carried one another out of Westgate and President Kenyatta and former PM Odinga (formerly rivals) came together to hold their country.  I ask that you continue to stand with Kenya in whichever way seems right for you.

Kenneth and I were talking today about the violence and the subsequent response and Kenneth remarked that this was a beautiful “Story of  Us.” He is right, Marshall Ganz often teaches that a “Story of Us” is not powerful because of our homogeneous nature but because of our diversity. This weekend we saw Kenyans come together, disregard differences, and stand as one nation, one people, with one response. I look forward to celebrating the solidarity of Kenyans, to telling this story in the future.  Join us in hoping that we continue to stand together.

Thank you for your hearts and your hope.

Natalie

Reflect :: Leaders Emerge From Everywhere

Tatua has the gift of hosting others and offering them a glimpse of what’s going on in Kenya. Katherine Mquade Toig visited Tatua Kenya last month and kept this blog. Below are her reflections on how witnessing Tatua has given her hope about leadership.
 
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.
 
Rose and Jacob during their coaching session.
Rose and Jacob during their coaching session.

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.
 

Reflect :: The Community KNOWS Us

Tony Ngala, an Tatua Organizer working in the Madika neighbourhood of Rongai to get parents to take responsibility for their children’s education, shares about the team’s launch last month and what the outcomes of the event taught him. 

Road in Kware, neighbourhood where Tony works as an organiser.
Road in Kware, neighbourhood where Tony works as an organiser.

Our team held our kick-off event on the 1st of September. The event didn’t go as well as we wanted as only 17 people showed up, this is a representation of the challenge we’re facing in the community to bring people together despite the fact we aren’t going to be giving them funds – a mode typically used to mobilise people in Kware. It was also a reflection on how I as a leader had stopped really being at the centre of the leadership team and was letting them kind of get off track – I need to refocus my energy on bringing them together.

However, despite the loss we were encouraged as the Chief of the area made it a point to support our work. A few leaders in the community didn’t want to open the venue for us unless we paid but Chief Njeri came over and she told the wazee (male leaders) that we are known by the community and we are helping the community so open the venue.

What are other values of being known by the community? How have you built steady relationships with in communities and become known?