Taking the long road to developing communities

At the core of community development success is trust, relationship, research and consultation. When these are in place we have a greater opportunity to be good stewards of our God-given resources. 
It takes the average cross-cultural worker 7 years to become effective. This can be reduced to 3 years with the correct anthropology training. 
The reason it can be reduced is that they learn to ask the right questions and learn how to understand the culture whilst adapting their approach to suit the culture. 
As an example, we see that a conference of people that are deficient in iron. We have the knowledge that chicken livers are a cheap form of iron. This could lead us into thinking that handing out chicken livers to everyone at the conference will assist their iron levels. 
During our due diligence process, we find that the people at the conference are vegans, therefore we realise we need to look for a different solution to the iron defecicy. We learn due to vegan culture, that no matter how much we try to convince people that chicken livers will help, they will never eat them. It is against their culture no matter what the health benefits. So we must find iron in veggies or a different form that is palatable to the conference. 
What can happen is that we see the need to change the culture of the conference to become carnivores so that they will eat the livers. Whilst doing this we lose sight of the original objective, to increase iron levels. We become dogmatic about the need for people to eat meat.
In any solution to a problem we must carry out due diligence. If we are excited and enthusiastic about a solution it may cause us to short cut the development process. 
If we are an early adopter we can easily see the benefits of our solution. We will believe we can start to convince others to change.
Impoverished societies are not early adopters. They are quite the opposite, they are suspicious and slow to change. When we are helping them discover new solutions we must be patient to lead them to find their culturally acceptable answers. 
Effective community development is a process, unfortunately when we skips steps we become less effective and at times harmful. 

Low impact aid verse high impact development.

I had an interesting conversation about feeding school children. Here in Kenya, many children are in school with empty stomachs. Not skipped breakfast empty, not eaten for days empty! Many children discontinue school due to hunger.
The schools used to have a feeding program funded by an international donor. That donor had the intention of feeding the school children whilst encouraging them to grow their own food. True to their word the international donor discontinued feeding the school children after 3 years.
Where the program failed is that the schools did not develop their food growing capacity. They have empty greenhouses due to lack of water or skills, they have plots of land producing little or no food.
So now I am being asked to feed 20,000 school children. Do I make the same error of the donor before me? Or am I going to finally learn from this mistake, and many others like it.
If I am feeding children whilst teaching them to farm, I have removed the need for them to learn. That's right, if I meet the need why would people change their habits? The sad fact is that we will not change unless we want a different result. The schools don't want to farm. They want to be fed. So if I feed them they won't farm.
I know that Kenya has poor results in Agriculture, I also know it's not the fault of kids at school. It is due to poor methods being handed down and a lack of knowledge.
Good news is we can teach proven farming methods that restore land and increase yields. This gives the schools a fighting chance of feeding the students. In the meantime, if the schools manage to find a donor to feed the children I know my impact will be greatly reduced if not totally negated. It's a lot easier to unload a truck of donated porridge then it is to grow your own food.
Let's stop being good-hearted, low impact aid agencies and become good hearted, people empowering, high impact development agencies.
It is a difficult task to teach a man to fish whilst you are handing him fish every day. Stop handing out the fish and his motivation to fish greatly increases. He will spend more time fishing and will be eager to learn better techniques.
Imagine if the same aid agency that fed the kids for 3 years had have spent the same funds employing skilled agriculture teachers and focused on improving farming within each school. Yes, the students would have been hungry but that hunger would have been reduced over time.
Why do we all know the principle of teaching a man to fish but we continue to hand out fish? Because it tears our heart to see a hungry child, so we feed them. We feel good they feel good. Unfortunately when we leave the child is back to being hungry. We are ok because we can't see them starving any more, we have moved on.

Leveling a Libary

The boys rehab centre has a new library in a container thanks to Ben and Irene (ACCI) field workers.

Ben needed some help getting the container level. Thanks to the generous donation of a 5 ton jack we were able to lift the container one corner at a time and get it level. We have a few finishing touches then it's a goer.

Ready to plant

The lessons of our farming include, being on time! We are demonstrating this by being ready to plant before the rains start.

We also teach that we must give back if we want to take out. We have made compost to fertilise our crops. The fertiliser is in the ground ready to plant on once it rains.

Oasis Life visit

Visit to school

School visits are lots of fun for the kids.

A round robin of games is the winner!

Sunday Church

Fogo Gaucho

Getting ready for the meat sweats.

Rehab Center

We visited the work at a rehab centre. The Oasis Life team cooked chapatis with the boys.

Lake Nakuru National Park

Lake Nakuru

Kim and I received our work visas. This weekend we went to Lake Nakuru to celebrate. Thanks to the generous gift of Oasis Life Church we got to stay the night in the park, and loved living it up!

We have our visas!

Christmas appeal.

It was a pleasure to be able to partner with the Member of Parliament and local churches to provide a Christmas gift to elderly people in our community. With the help of our partners we blessed over 200 people. 
It’s so nice to be able to say thank you to the community elders for who they are and all they do. 
Many of our elders live under the poverty line therefore the gifts were practical food stuffs and a special leso that is also practical. 
Ben and Irene who also work with ACCI here in Nairobi, provided cakes and sweet bread for morning tea.