14 November 2012
FOL's Annual Partnership Seminar took place in Kenya last month. This is a yearly opportunity for FOL to engage with communities to assess current programmes and plan for the future together. Representatives from 34 different partner groups travelled from Londiani and Kipkelion Districts to meet together in Londiani town. The feedback and input from each group is the start of FOL's strategic planning process for the coming three-to-five years and will help to shape the future for the communities we are working with. Each group had stories to tell of how working with FOL has been helping to improve their lives and make lasting changes in the areas of health, education and water. Here are just a few – as told by members of the communities.
Water project – Kunyak village
The community of Kunyak explained how a serious outbreak of cholera in their community led them to FOL. "The public health officer went to talk to the FOL office and asked them to visit Kunyak and assess the situation. FOL went there, and were true to their world. They explained that water should be treated, and that a proposal could be made to FOL. FOL advised that they should form a committee and write a proposal. The difference between writing a letter and proposal writing was that a proposal needed to explain how the project will benefit the community. A committee was duly formed and a woman took the role of treasurer. The chair was happy because a female treasurer is a trusted treasurer. Each committee member made the same investment into the group of 500 shillings – FOL liked this matched funding. The group took the title of 'New Water Project Committee'. They wrote a successful proposal and FOL accepted it. Because of FOL's support the community now has (and continues to have) an easier way of life including:
- toilets at home
- children wash clothes at home
- animals drink at home
- eradicate diseases
- woman doesn't have to walk so far to get water and has more time at home".
Income generation – Nyairobi village
"We hadn't worked together before. But we had good land and healthy people with good skills who wanted to improve their lives. We used to walk far to buy vegetables and when we got back to Nyairobi village, nothing was as fresh as it could have been. When FOL talked to us, they helped us see that in working together we could be greater than the sum of our parts. Twenty of us decided to invest in buying some seeds, fertiliser and watering cans. We invested 50 shillings per person. We planted vegetables and started to sell them locally. When we had made some money we used it to buy a more sophisticated watering system. Today there are 30 local investors in the project in Nairobi village. FOL helped us to work together and then we got on with it ourselves. The families involved in the programme have more freedom to make choices about how they spend their money. We can pay for school fees, we can buy more and better food for our families, and we can buy things for our homes to keep it clean and we are proud."
Jiggers (A jigger is a parasitic insect that thrives in areas of poor hygiene and can damage feet to the extent that sometimes the afflicted person is unable to walk)
"Two boys can't play football because they have jiggers. One man puts charcoal on their feet by sharpening a pencil and putting the lead on their feet. FOL trained Community Health Workers (CHWs) intervene. The CHW comes in and brings up-to-date medicine, not traditional medicine. They provide information about jiggers to the community. The mother of the children explains they miss the local medicine but the CHW explains more about jiggers and the CHW wears bread wrappers as hygienic gloves to touch the feet and cleans the feet in the right and proper way. The CHW teaches the parents how to do this properly – to wash the feet and then medicate. With help from the CHW the parents understand how to prevent as well as treat the illness. Children are back at school and can play football!"
Words of Wisdom
"Everything is linked… education, health and water. Fixing the problem…looking at the cause. When we have all three legs of a stool together we can make the biggest change. These are knowledge + skills + access to resources. We want to share successes and we also want to look at entrepreneur opportunities – looking for ideas to strengthen and build and grow our own communities. Respect Changing attitudes It's a way of life, it just happens Empowerment.. Courage.. Being bold. Leadership, community leadership, new opportunities for leadership e.g. women and young people."