First Community Forum in Nkoroi, Success!

Ken Chomba leading a discussion at his forum in Nkoroi.
Ken Chomba leading a discussion at his forum in Nkoroi.

Ken Chomba, community organizer in Nkoroi, hosted his first community forum last week and this is what he had to say about it.

For the first time in my life i felt so over privileged when people said all the good things at me. The chief insisted that we do a vote of thanks and they all just praised me. However, that was just a moment of feeling like a king, it got me back quickly to the quote Natalie read to us on the Easter weekend on servant leadership. I remembered to praise everyone back because honestly, it was about them. They showed up so this meeting would be a success. This community here is just the bomb. They have just increased my passion for doing this work.

I met a group of 8 young mothers that have been saving 50shs every week, but they didn’t know what to do with it. We agreed that they choose 2 among them to be their leaders and from there start to recruit some sort of support. They now have Risper Wanjiku as their liason with me and I will get them a lady from Equity foundation and a contact from Jamii Bora to help them build their personal capacities to manage the money they have saved.

I will still be happy to say that 58 people attended the forum. So humbling folks. I am reminded that this work is definitely happening. Challenging people to their power. These ladies are a perfect example of community starting to awaken.

Click Here to see photos from the forum!

The Empowerment Myth :: Tips from Tatua

Development Tips from Natalie Finstad, Tatua Co-Founder and Executive Director

I have this hang up on the term  empowerment programs, it seems that somewhere along the way we started believing that we can empowered others to do certain things.

If Sally, a five year old growing up in the Kibera Slum attends a class on sanitary habits lead by Americans and then decides to go wash her hands to whom is the credit given? Has she been empowered by the American teachers? Is it to their credit she made the choice? Are they responsible for her behavior?

I hardly think so.

I can attend hundreds of seminars on hand washing but it is still my responsibility to choose to wash my hands. Choice is a reflection of my values and my priorities, through choice I assert my values and get to experience an outcome. If I take choice away from others I have robbed them not only of their responsibility for the choice but also for the consequence of that action.

Don’t we want Sally to know that it was her, not us that washed her hands? That she didn’t need us to empower her to make another choice. That she could have made that choice all along, it’s only that through the class, the choice became clear?

We must move away from the belief that we are empowering people to make choices. They have always had the power, it’s just that often, the choice wasn’t made available or clear.

If I had my way we’d stop empowering and start creating opportunity for choice. Choice is where change happens.

What do you think? Is focusing on choice different than focusing on empowering others? Or is it all the same?