Here's a video of one of the many singing breaks. I mean, you gotta sing while learning business right?
This Saturday was the first of a series of training sessions for a new group with Alex Omino. Another group, also funded through our Canada to Kenya efforts, has been working with Alex since October and have made great strides towards forming a co-operative. They should be in full swing before we leave.
We had a successful turnout for this new group -- too successful really -- with 102 participants. A group of 70 would have been ideal, but I was having familiar fears of a roomful of empty seats, so I invited too many, being sure that many would not come. Well, they almost all came!
|Waiting for training to begin|
|Like what I'm hearing so far|
|Hmmm, we'll see...|
- To be identified to our seniors and supporters of the group
- How to run the groups better
- To know the moral support we are going to get -- He called them on this one... "you mean material support, isn't it?"
- To know as a group how to grow... so that we are assisted.
|Come on, be honest... Who came hoping for some material support.|
After some coaxing he was able to get out of them that, yes, they were there in the hopes of getting some support. This is the mindset that is killing Africans. Kenya has been receiving Aid since 1963. Alex asked how much has been done to alleviate poverty... "Very little. According to me... none. In 48 years, there is Nothing Going On -- N.G.O."
Alex went on to talk about the bleak state of the world and it's direct impact on the world's poorest countries, Kenya being among them: Global Warming, World Economic Crisis, High Ranking Poverty, Deep Rooted Corruption. The state of the European Union has a impacted aid to Africa as European efforts are directed away from Africa to serve their poverty within, especially in Eastern Europe. "If Africans cannot change from becoming beggars, they will die."
The approach of NGO's in Africa has been that of charitable donations to the needy -- Participatory Rural Appraisal. The well meaning mzungu asking the poor African to tell them their struggles. The focus is on community needs and problems in order of severity. Sounds reasonable enough. They give some money where they feel it will do some good and walk away feeling like they've done a little something good.
This is exactly what I was doing just two weeks ago when I visited women's groups. After a song and a prayer ;o), the group would tell me what they are doing and what they are struggling with and what they want. This approach seemed better than me, the all knowing, all powerful mzungu coming in with answers. I was curious, asked lots of questions in an effort to learn from the women.
|Patience Group Song|
Patience Group -- a group of retired professionals.
- Most of the community has small plots and undertake small scale farming
- Poultry, Fish Ponds, Bee keeping
- Maize/vegetables -- subsistence farming
- Farmers have formed a co-operative for sale of milk
- Kufanya biashara
- Ukulima (farming)
- Miradi kwa fmawo
Unfortunately this one was in Swahili, so I'm not exactly sure what they said... But, the gist of it is that they support the needy. The question Alex posed was, with whose money do you support the needy?
Faith Women Group
- Helping one another in problems
- e.g. funerals, sickness, famine
- Helping one another in ceremonies
- Merry Go Round (each member contributes 50 /=
- Helping needy people in the community
- e.g. sick people, bringing for the water, firewood
- Small scale farming
|Faith Women Group|
Mulakha and Bidii Groups
- Small scale farming
- Small scale business
- Merry Go Round
- Table banking
Alex wrapped up with an emphasis on PRODUCTION. What can you produce that will support you? He used volunteers in skits to demonstrate what it is like supporting the needy. Piggy backing, blindfolded person leading a sighted person, etc. It brought lots of laughs and I think helped to drive the point home. He also talked about who is the NGO... not a big corporation, but individuals, with families, children in school. These are the people who are bringing the donations. And they are going to get tired. "Can't we let Tanya come next time as a tourist, not a well wisher."
He stressed to me, I need these lessons perhaps more than the participants, and to the group that there is an appropriate time for a donation, or an investment, but ONLY as a boost to efforts already in motion.
The answer for the group and for Africa:
- Create wealth
- Build unity
Stay tuned for session two which will cover: Resource Analysis, Economic Analysis, Production and Value Addition, and Building a Strong Group/Organization Profile.