“Good development is a long road. It never gets easier just because you’ve taken a step ahead, the responsibilities and the ‘to-do’ list get longer because with every vicoty the big picture becomes even bigger.” Liz Njeri, Tatua Community Organizer in Ngando
Liz Njeri introduces the Ngando Leadership Team at a town meeting in Ngando.
Out in a place called Kitui there is a village that is completely self-sustainable catering to orphans and elders living with or affected by HIV. It is called Nyumbani Village.
Our community organizers took a trip out there to explore and research their method. The village opened in 2006 and designed to hold 1,000 orphans and 100 grandparents in 100 homes. It was a great opportunity for our organizers to see a community working together towards one goal and to see how they accomplish it everyday.
Plus it got them outside of what they see everyday. They had a great time meeting new people and getting to know each other even better.
Here is what James and Tony had to say about that trip.
‘Nyumbani village is a place where you go in and do not want to come out. It is a placefilled with the love that you will find at home. We saw that from the smiles on the kids faces and everyone else in Nyumbani. Whether you are white or black short or tall infected by HIV or affected by it, you are welcomed and accepted.’
-James Njoroge, Community Organizer
‘The Nyumbani Village is a great place, I really liked the Organic farmers club where they involve the neighbouring community on the projects of growing the kales on the farms offered by the Nyumbani village. I also liked the waste management system and how they use it as a resource from the population in the village. The setting of the clusters really builds unity in the five families and actually builds up the community setting. The Projects are managed by local individual, creating the ownership of the projects.’
April 6th I was asked to give a TEDx Talk in Mathare. The invite was exciting, fun and incredibly humbling. TED is a non-profit organization that asks speakers to share their life story and how their unique past led them to the work they are doing. This story/result should challenge the audience’s beliefs and provoke conversation.
You would think for some one who is versed/teaches narrative this would have come easily to me but I was forced to really think about what I wanted to say. I didn’t want to get up there and give the usual “Tatua Rocks” schpeel, though we do rock. Instead, I was hoping to focus on the method/belief behind our work – that true development goes beyond the material to the spiritual.
This belief is based in our understanding of poverty. We believe that poverty is more than a lack resources; it is a lie that you are in fact, inferior to the people who hold those resources. It is a lie that you do not have the power to create your own solutions.
Currently, the majority of our development programs are focused on addressing the lack of resources rather than the lie that causes and encompasses that lack of resources, for more on how we’ve come to believe this lie see here.
The trick with narrative is that to tell a good one you’ve got to know why you know something is true. I mean, I know that but this was a new narrative for me, I haven’t really talked about when I knew the difference between the tangible lack of resources I experienced as a child (I’ve talked about that before) but this time I was talking about when I felt poor.
I was able to coach myself well enough to get to a story that I could tell.
I was ten years old, it was cold outside and time for recess. I was wearing this old, pink, thin windbreaker. I ddin’t want to go to recess, I didn’t want the other kids to see my jacket, they all had warm clothes. So I hid, I curled up in a little ball in the ourdoor hallways of bendwood elementary and I hid. I continued hiding for the next eighteen years.
-Natalie Finstad, Executive Director of Tatua Kenya
James Njoroge works alongside Tony in Rongai. He is 21 years old and was born and raised in Rongai so he knows the community well. He aspires to be a good role model to future generations and instill the desire to help in others.
His goal is to create a united country that tackles their own problems. Recently James led his first training out in the community. He taught about 1:1’s and relationship building. He says “I was very happy about the training. At first I was not very sure how it would be, but the moment I started teaching and seeing my students smile and start putting notes down on paper I was very happy and that made me feel like I want to do more.”