One Brick at a Time
2023 Trip Blog #8
Written by Kathy Mutch
I have learned much in my 6 visits to Kenya- many facts about government, health care, education, water, sanitation, fishing, agriculture, roads, electricity etc. But slowly, slowly I am learning about vision, faith, and patience. There is a measured pace to daily life here- walking, going about work, taking time to introduce everyone in the room. It is a thoughtful pace. In Canada we might call it mindfulness, something we may practice in spaces of time separated from the rest of our day. Here it is a way of life.
When budgets are submitted from Beyond Limitations (our sister community based organization in Kenya) to MCOH, we are concerned we can meet the requests, but we have learned that Kenyans can pace with patience and faith that it will happen. If we can only provide a portion of the funds we are told they will begin, for they have faith that bit by bit it will be completed. They start the project doing what they can, often surprising us with their ingenuity and ability to stretch the dollar.
We know that each donations made to MCOH and sent to Beyond Limitation is wisely spent on moving projects forward. We joke about Canadian time versus Kenyan time. We rush to get things done and to be on time. I believe Kenyans are accepting of delays, knowing that something has interfered and other things are being taken care of before they can complete the project, but with hope and faith that it will happen.
At MCOH your donations go to projects, but it is the staff in Kenya who design, plan, implement and sustain the projects. Without them I fear “our” projects would become white elephants. “White elephant” projects are found all over Kenya, and they refer to projects started by well-wishers who have not engaged the community, did not have reliable people in place to oversee the development and do not have a plan to sustain the project. MCOH invests in the staff for each step. But we frankly discuss that we will not be here forever. For example, the opening of the office on a farm is their plan for sustainability. The farm will grow food for sale, offer education courses in the meeting room, and sewing and baking enterprises are planned.
Dr Bernard Mware is the liaison between Canada and Kenya. He oversees, mentors, and models development with the staff. He encourages, challenges, and is firm in his expectations. Beyond Limitations are a strong, dedicated team, working effectively together to improve the lives of their communities. They are aware of each other’s strengths and offer support to their teammates when needed. Their responsibilities include:
- Asses the needs of individuals and communities and provide advice and assistance
- Find creative solution when problem solving
- Build confident communities and individuals by providing accurate information, dispelling misinformation, listening respectfully and teaching at every opportunity
- Teach about health, nutrition, and the environment
- Oversee completion of the projects
- And always consider how they will sustain the work that has been started.