Written by Tracy Butt
Empowerment and Sustainability. If I had to sum up the message we’ve been getting over the last two days, these two words are it! On Sunday we had the privilege to visit with Alex, Tor, Leah, and Vincent from Dala Reiko. Dala Reiko is a grassroots organization that started 10 years ago in Nyanza, Kenya. Their focus is Agriculture, Lake Conservation, and Sustainable and Renewable Energy. Their foundation for change is literally in their name. In Luo, “dala” means home and “reiko” means knowledge. They stress the importance of sharing knowledge so we can learn from the successes and failures of each other and to avoid the “White Elephant Projects”. These are projects that may begin strong but soon fail as they do not deal with the real issues of the community they are there to serve. Don’t make things complicated. Keep it simple!
On Monday, we spent the day meeting with local government officials in the Bondo district. We had the opportunity to share with directors in Agriculture, Education, and Child Services, the work Beyond Limitations, with support from Mikinduri Children of Hope, will be looking to implement in the region. They showed great excitement for the projects we are planning and we gained their full support. We also received very valuable advice; “a project is only as good as how it is introduced to the people, how it is implemented, and how successfully you can exit it.” Again, we are to avoid the “White Elephant Projects” and find effective ways to consult with people on the ground and other NGOs. This is critical if we are to hope to ensure any project we implement is sustainable. Empower the community through education to take ownership but understand their need first. Work with them on a regular basis to audit the project and make adjustments as necessary.
This may all sound like common sense but how often do we have to remind ourselves to take our ego out of it. In an era of “fake news” how do we know what is true and what is fact or opinion. Do we know what it means to really listen and actually hear what people are telling us?
I am honoured to have been a supporter of Mikinduri Children of Hope since 2009. The work Ted Grant began has stretched far beyond Mikunduri and has touched many lives. Those who continue his work and vision are really making a difference in the lives of many Kenyans.
Tomorrow we are off to Mageta Island to work with Beyond Limitations Community Based Organization. This organization led by Benard Mware, Elizabeth Oluoch, and Isaac Otieno is dedicated to serving the people of Mageta Island and the Bondo area.