We worked with Jikaze, a group of 900 Internally Displaced Persons following the Kenyan Post-Election Violence of 2008, to create a sustainable re-settlement village. The problems plaguing the community were as follows: Lack of consistent food; lack of clean water; limited access to health care; women forced into prostitution with Lorry Drivers; overcrowded classrooms and limited access to school fees; half of the community still living in tents; no electricity or easy access to cooking fuels; no financial capital to start businesses; semi-arid region with little rainfall and inaccessible water table. During our first year of working with Jikaze we built 56 houses, conducted 3 months of food relief, distributed 90 micro-finance loans, sold 75 water filters at a subsidy, sponsored 22 children in educational scholarships, planted 145 trees, distributed vitamins to 100 children for a month, and built a deep and lasting relationship with the community.
Assess: We discovered what mattered most to the community by listening to their needs, desires and concerns directly. Once a week we would meet with the village committee, which composed of house block leaders, community leaders and elders. The village was composed of 7 housing blocks and each block had a representative. The community had also voted for a chairman, vice-chairmen, treasurer and secretary. The block leaders and community leaders made decisions on behalf of the needs of the people. Everyone had an equal voice and opportunity to express their thoughts, beliefs and ideas on the issues we were addressing, e.g. food, water, housing. Uhuru Child partnered with local NGOs for nearly all of our development projects. We partnered with Comfort the Children for drip-irrigation workshops, Care of Creation for tree planting, Chujimo Ceramics for water filters, Jamii Bora for micro-finance and with Global Connections for the house building and food relief initiatives.
Plan: Jikaze community was intimately involved in all of our relief and development projects. We coordinated with the committee to purchase building materials for houses, to organize the community for efficient and equitable food distribution, to prepare the homesteads for tree planting, to work alongside the micro-finance organization to distribute loans, and finally to coordinate a village wide census that detailed the name, age, schooling level and occupation of all 900 villagers.
Act: We built 56 houses. We planted 145 trees. We sold 75 water filters at a subsidy. We conducted three months of food relief in conjunction with the dispersal of 90 micro-finance loans. We offered 22 education scholarships to children in the community. The community was supportive of these efforts because we would sit and discuss the problems, potential solutions, options and methods of application every week with the community elders in Jikaze. Moreover, Uhuru Child and Jikaze worked side by side to build the houses and plant the trees in the community.
Evaluate: As previously mentioned, we continued to meet with the leaders in Jikaze, every week for the entire year we worked with them. During these meetings we received valuable feedback on the effectiveness of our programs. E.g. our micro-finance partnering organization was not meeting Jikaze’s expectations so Uhuru Child brokered talks between the community and the micro-finance organization to come to a healthy and mutually beneficial solution. We will use the Multi-dimensional Poverty Index created by Oxfords Poverty and Human Development Initiative to track the type the frequency and intensity of deprivations (broken down by health, education and standard of living) across the Jikaze population. By polling the community and analyzing the data through the MPI metric we can understand how our programs have led to poverty reduction in Jikaze.
Sustain: This community development work continues as Uhuru Child endeavors to build a Day Secondary School for the children of Jikaze. Construction is set to begin in June 2011 with the school to open in January 2012. The school fees will be subsidized through social business profits, owned and operated by the parents of the children attending Jikaze Secondary School. These businesses include a sustainable farm, papyrus reed sanitary towel production, school bus/public transport hybrid and a recycling program. Our goal is to leave Jikaze having built a Secondary School that will give the children a quality education that will make them competitive for admission into University. Moreover, the social businesses we create will employ adults in the community and lift Jikaze families out of poverty through profits.
Every family has been moved out of their tents and into houses. Since we sold the water filters at a subsidy, no child has become sick from water borne diseases. Every child in Jikaze in Standard 8 received an educational scholarship and all the children will sit for the end of school exam that will determine their placement in Secondary School. No one has died of starvation, sickness or accident since we first started working with Jikaze. 90 of the 145 families have received micro-finance loans and are earning an income through small businesses. Although harder to quantify, the psychological, emotional and spiritual health of the community has increased since we began working there. Continual charity has a corrosive effect upon the soul and on a person’s perceived value and worth. By working with the community and developing a relationship that extended beyond the boundaries of project completion we were able to validate their humanity and worth as individuals. Much of the success lay in the fact that we developed such a deep friendship upon which all these projects were successfully built.
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