The truth about Community organizing

Being an organizer takes a keen awareness of where energy exists and moving on that energy. It means seeing how a community works, what resources it has, what its needs are and helping match already present resources to existing needs. It’s about helping people see that they already have the answers to the problems they want some one else to solve. It’s looking at the community with a different sense of eyes.

The job isn’t about me or you doing everything. It’s about the community doing everything or at least as much as we can do together. This isn’t always the easiest thing to ensure. People often want you to do everything (I often want to do everything) but if we (me or you) do everything it leaves a lot of time and a little responsibility on everyone else’s plate. The truth is, we ALL have something to give to this world. This is our home and the other people living here are our community members, our neighbors and it’s time we act like it.

We may be thousands of miles apart or living in drastically different place but deep down, we’re all in this together, that’s the truth. And, to see change, we’re going to need to start living by that truth.

Helping you realize that truth, helping me realize that truth, helping the global community realize that truth – that’s my job as a community organizer.

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Shifting the Way Aid is Done

We just celebrated having had a successful Global Gathering where we learnt, taught and shared a magnificent experience with other agents of change and participants from Uganda, Amagoro, Meru, Kajiado, Nairobi and Somerset. We also strategized about how we can work together to shift the way aid is done. How do we end the dependency cycle?

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Tatua Kenya 2014 Global Gathering participants at a training session in Kajiado.

What is certain is that communities not only  thrive when they have ownership over assets, but also when they are able to “own” their problems and issues. When communities accept that it is “their” problem, then they are more likely to work together to develop a solution that is better than one provided solely by an external “expert”.  We have however, at most times,  resigned to the belief that we can’t, and we have to go around with an empty bowl branded HELP. All we  need is the ability to identify the resources around us {resource mapping} and put them together to create power.  When a community is able to do this together, then they can achieve true independence.

How have you seen dependency in your community? Who do you think is the “expert” and why?

Update :: Tatua Builds Partnerships for Greater Impact

Sign describing services offered at Hope World Wide Kenya in Makuru
Sign describing services offered at Hope World Wide Kenya in Mukuru

Kenneth Chomba, Co-Founder and Field Manager shares about how Tatua Kenya is building partnerships for change with other organizations in Kenya. 

Kenneth Chomba, Tatua Kenya Field Manager, teaching at a training at Nyumbani Children's Home.
Kenneth Chomba, Tatua Kenya Field Manager, teaching at a training at Nyumbani Children’s Home.

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.