Helping to create real, positive and lasting change in 2013
As most readers will know Friends of Londiani has been working with communities in Kenya since 2002. Friends of Londiani is based in Londiani, a district in Kenya’s Rift Valley. It works with rural communities to improve access to health, education and water, and supports these communities in their efforts to make lasting changes to their lives. Friends of Londiani is an organisation built on integrity, passion and good governance, with a track record of success. Working together with its Kenyan team, its members and supporters are creating a better, sustainable future for the next generation. For our last blog of the year, we thought we would round up some of our achievements in 2013 — and highlight some of our plans for the coming years. At the end of 2013, representatives from the communities that work with Friends of Londiani gathered together for a partnership seminar. They spoke about what they saw as the significant changes that have happened through their partnerships with Friends of Londiani. These are just a few examples of what they said: Alternatives to circumcision: Community partners in Londiani district say that the adoption of the Alternative Rite of Passage for girls instead of female genital mutilation or circumcision (FGM/C) has resulted in more girls staying at school, more girls standing firm against FGM/C, fewer early marriages and fewer complications during childbirth. Water collection: Joseph Mwangi says, “The biggest improvement I saw in 2013 is the availability of clean water in my community. Women and children used to walk over half an hour to collect water. Now in the village they have a collection point for domestic use of water at one place in the village. They are planning to make more collection points”. Community health: Sande Daniel says, “Through the Community Health trainings and the Community Health Committees, many previous types of infections are now curbed through community awareness. The Community Health Unit members are educating people about hand washing, pit latrines, and water treatment. Fewer people now need to go to the Health Facility. Overall life has been improved.” The main reasons FOL believe these changes are happening are that:
- Friends of Londiani sees itself and those who work for or support it as advocates for people who don’t have a voice
- Its work is based on partnerships with local people, officials, NGOs and the Kenyan government
- It gives people the tools to build on what they already have
- It adapts the traditional way of doing things in a way that can improve lives for everyone
Friends of Londiani's inclusive approach to community leadership combines programmes in health, education, water and economic empowerment. The communities say that some of the common themes supporting the process of change for the better are:
- Community ownership and participation
- Knowledge and awareness raising
- Prioritising needs
- Access to ‘experts’ and funds
- Holding seminars to bring minds together and to share knowledge and experience
- Understanding cultures and changing cultural practices/ knowledge/ beliefs through
- involving elders
- involving the girls (or whomever is affected)
- working with chiefs and barazas (community meetings)
- Field trips to see what other groups are doing
- Increased literacy levels, which in turn means that people are more able to absorb information
- Involving schools to get the message to young people
- Implementation of government policies by active communities
Friends of Londiani is also looking ahead. Following a consultative process involving all of Friends of Londiani’s partners, Friends of Londiani has created a clear vision and strategic plan for the coming years. In the next three-to-five years Friends of Londiani will focus on:
- Creating an enabling environment
- Continuing, in a partnership-based approach, to deliver relevant programmes
- Transitioning to a Kenyan-led organisation in partnership with an expanded and strengthened Friends of Londiani network.
Friends of Londiani’s strategic plan is based on — and entitled — 'Creating Better Futures'. This means focusing Friends of Londiani’s activities around four main themes:
- Better education: Increasing access to strengthened formal and informal educational opportunities for community members. Programmes include bursaries, teacher training and support, life-skills courses and a Healthy Schools programme.
- Improved healthcare: Improving the health of community members and increasing the coverage and effectiveness of health systems through a number of programmes. These include the creation of healthy villages, disease prevention training and support of new mothers and babies.
- Clean water: Access to clean water for communities. Programmes include rainwater collection, gravity schemes and hand pumps.
- Thriving economy: Increasing household income in the district. Programmes include access to capital, business training, tourism and co-operatives.
Friends of Londiani creates an enabling environment for communities to realise change through creating connections, leveraging knowledge and focusing on innovative responses to opportunity and needs. But we cannot do this valuable work alone. Your help and support matters to us. And there are many ways you can continue to support the work that Friends of Londiani is involved with in 2014. Here are just a few:
- Share links to Friends of Londiani’s website and social media with your friends and contacts.
- Set up a regular donation using a standing order to support the programmes on the ground. Click here.
- Log on to www.onepercentdifference.ie to see how just one per cent of your time or your income can make a difference — and choose Friends of Londiani as the charity you want to support.
- Apply for Harambee 2014 in July or November.
- Support fundraising events during the year.
- Sign up with Deal Effect (www.dealeffect.ie) and receive daily offers for the very best deals on holidays, weekend breaks, romantic meals, fun family days, beauty products and quality goods. For every deal you purchase, Friends of Londiani will get 11 per cent of what you spend.
- Support the Friends of Londiani online shop — and in particular its wonderful Starfish jewellery and wedding favours — during the year when you are buying gifts for friends and family. View the Friends of Londiani online shop.
And thank you for supporting us. Our work is diverse but Friends of Londiani’s aims are simple: to bring people together to create a thriving economy — and to provide a safe, sustainable future for everyone.