Brighter Communities Worldwide was founded in 2002. In the beginning it focused on a few key projects in two places and was called Friends of Londiani. Since then Brighter Communities Worldwide has expanded and developed its programmes and now works across two counties in Kenya with 228,000 people and is currently expanding into other African Countries.
The charity was the happy result of an unhappy incident. In August 2000 an Irish tourist, Maria Kidney, was mugged on the streets of Nairobi. She sought refuge in the Kenyan Girl Guides’ Headquarters. There she heard about the Kenyan Girl Guides’ work with various communities. Inspired by this, she contacted the Council of Irish Girl Guiding Associations and suggested that they support their Kenyan counterparts. They agreed, and developed the idea further. The plan was that one or more institutions in Kenya would host a service project group – part of a partnership focused on improving access to education, clean water and basic healthcare.
Where it all began
In August 2002 20 adult leaders from the Irish Girl Guides and the Guide Association, Province of Ulster, travelled to Londiani.
The result of the visit was a community service project. It involved organising activities for children in Bethel Children‘s Home and running a Lifeskills Peer Education course for a group of local women in conjunction with members of the Kenyan Girl Guides.
The project was a success. But for that success to be sustained a more formal arrangement was required. That came about when a new charity was registered in Ireland. It was called the Friends of Londiani. From 2002 to 2016 the charity operated as Friends of Londiani. However, such was its impact in the area, that requests came from further afield for Friends of Londiani to help other communities. To meet this need, Friends of Londiani changed its name to Brighter Communities Worldwide.
Much has changed since our inception, and the activities of the charity have expanded well beyond their original base, but we continue to support the education of the children in Bethel Children‘s Home.
Since 2002 the community in Londiani has grown from strength to strength. Over this period Brighter Communities Worldwide, working with the community, designed a Community Development Model. We know this model works because of the positive change in the lives of individuals, of families and the communities. This model has many elements including:
- Brighter Communities Worldwide sees itself as a catalyst for development – we kick start things – we create opportunities in which development is allowed to flourish.
- Brighter Communities Worldwide believes that nothing can be achieved in isolation. Partnerships and working together – are the essence of Harambee. These partnerships can be seen throughout Brighter Communities Worldwide‘s Health, Education and Water Programmes.
- Brighter Communities Worldwide believes in empowerment. Our whole approach is about listening, and helping communities to realise their dreams and become the authors of their own development.
- Brighter Communities Worldwide believes that the role of women is key to the development of a community. We have worked with the women of Londiani and beyond since our inception.
- Brighter Communities Worldwide believes that investment in education is an investment in the future of a community. Since 2002 Brighter Communities Worldwide has assisted almost 2000 young people with access to education. Brighter Communities Worldwide was the catalyst for these 2000 young people to have a different future through an education.
- Brighter Communities Worldwide believes in volunteerism and its benefits to communities far and wide. Since its inception in 2002 almost 400 volunteers from 20 countries have travelled to Kenya with Brighter Communities Worldwide. They have worked with volunteers in local communities in the true spirit of togetherness. Harambee is the Swahili word for togetherness and this is what volunteering with Brighter Communities Worldwide is all about. We all have different skills and talents, and a combination of these together makes a stronger contribution.
- Brighter Communities Worldwide believes ownership is another key component of its development model. Communities must own projects if they are to bring about real change.
- People are key to the Brighter Communities Worldwide model – people making choices about their own development based on their values. Brighter Communities Worldwide‘s approach is based on values, human rights and trust. Brighter Communities Worldwide builds up trust both with and within the communities in which it works. It is not an overnight process, it takes time and patience, but it is worth it.
- Brighter Communities Worldwide believes that economic empowerment is key to development and has run many business courses to assist community groups.
- Brighter Communities Worldwide‘s model of community development has been designed over time – it is constantly evolving and moving forward. We know it works, we know that Brighter Communities Worldwide is making real change in real communities. Through 14 years of building relationships Brighter Communities Worldwide is seen as key to development in the Districts of Kipkelion, Londiani and beyond.