A sense of Achievement and pride

21 July 2014

Today’s blog is a contribution from Harambee volunteer Emer Hurley, whose brother Eoin wrote for us last week. Emer’s diary covers a three-day period up to Thursday last week. Her objective, she told us, was “to share my experience of being involved in a workshop for the facilitators of Friends of Londiani’s Lifeskills Programme”. And what an experience! Here’s Emer’s story:

Enlightened. That’s the overwhelming feeling I am left with as the third day of the workshop ends with colourful singing and dancing led by my new Kenyan friends. It is with regret that I decline their kind invitations to their homes and take some final photographs before they hit the road. The sense of achievement and pride was tangible as we reflected on our three days as a group and congratulated ourselves on the development of three new modules to complement the existing modules of the Lifeskills Programme (which has been up and running since 2002). Nutrition, drugs and addiction and mental health were the new topics of focus for the workshop following reports from local communities that these were issues of increasing relevance in recent times.

A combination of brainstorming, Oscar-worthy role play and debates (along with chai and mandazas) resulted in three mighty fine modules, to be delivered across the divisions of Londiani and Kipkelion. Of course, we wouldn’t have got to this place in the workshop without the help of prayers led by our ‘spiritual leader’ Julius and random acts of singing and dancing from our ‘energiser’ Alice.

I felt very privileged to get the opportunity to work alongside the Kenyan volunteers and gain such a valuable insight into their cultural beliefs and practices. Exploration of their myths was particularly interesting. For example, I heard that “eating big bananas makes it harder for a pregnant woman to deliver her baby” – and I would quite like to believe in the practice of eating lemons to make you skinny!

Chatting with the Kenyans about their experiences as facilitators during Friends of Londiani’s Lifeskills and Alternative Rite of Passage Programmes reinforced my faith in Friends of Londiani and reminded me why I am here on Harambee. Many of them shared inspiring personal stories of how people in their community had benefited from attending these courses.

One participant, Regina, even remarked on the lack of weddings in recent years as young women are being empowered to pursue education and make their own positive life choices. The final part of our day explored the next steps that will follow on from the workshop. This discussion was like a mini geography lesson as I learned of the various divisions where lifeskills programmes would be delivered over the course of 2014 and 2015. The workshop was attended by approximately 20 people who voluntarily co-facilitate lifeskills programmes in eight local communities as well as to youth groups, women’s groups and others. Next week I will get the chance to continue working alongside some of my newest friends as I co-facilitate a course in the division of Kiptendon. I look forward in particular to being involved in the roll-out of the three additional modules.