In the project group meeting of Monday, we discussed the needs assessment we are planning to do next week. Firstly, we talked about the location: we wanted a neutral place for executing the needs assessments, as we want to keep ourselves as neutral as possible in an area that is really sensitive to tribalism. We decided that the needs assessment will take place at the house of John Ndenyele (the dad of Faustus), because we can’t do it at the house of the priest or the sisters house. Also, the church is impractical because there is no place to fill in the questionnaires on. The house of John is a known and neutral place. Secondly, we talked about the date: we want to use our findings from the needs assessments a basis of the project, so we want to start with the needs assessment sessions as soon as possible. We decided that we will schedule the sessions next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. This way we can organize a second village meeting next Friday, in which we will inform the locals about the needs assessment and let them enlist to take part in the needs assessments. Thirdly, we talked about the composition of the group that is going to participate in the needs assessment: in our conversations with Butterfly Works about doing a needs assessment they stated that it is important to execute the needs assessment with a mixed group of people, in order to get as much aspects of the problem as possible. Therefore, we are going the execute the needs assessment with a mixed group of youngsters and elders. On Tuesday, we are going to discuss the contents of the needs assessment.
Next to discussing the needs assessment of next week, we also talked about the continuation of the project the next months. We decided to split the project in two tracks with different target groups. The first track has as target group enthusiastic and motivated people between the age of 18 and 35, living in the area of Bahati, Barakka and Kaptembwa. With a small group of at most 25 people we will do workshops and lectures, about coping with the problems we find through the needs assessments. The second track has as target group all youth from the area of Molo. We will perform unification activities with a group of unlimited size once every two weeks, because we already found out cooperation and trust are key factors causing an economic disadvantage in this area, compared to Molo town.
Later that day we had a meeting with Moses and Peter of Masterpeace over the phone, to ask them when they are available to organize one of the unification activities. We also talked with them about doing a needs assessment with the locals. They advised us to keep the sessions a little bit informal, in order to prevent people being shy to talk. Also, they confirmed our decision of doing the needs assessment in a neutral place by emphasizing the importance of doing the needs assessment in a safe space, like a church or a school. At the end of the conversation, they requested the results of the needs assessment, so they could use them for preparing their activity.
Tuesday - 22th of November
We spend this day on documenting the meetings we had with other organizations the first week of our stay in Kenya. In the afternoon, we have had short contact with Otto Kroesen to discuss the needs assessment and progress of the project. He suggested that the needs assessment actually should be called a “problem assessment”, as that is a better description of the contents of the assessment. Also, he was satisfied with the progress of the project.
Wednesday - 23th of November
This morning, we had a meeting with Riafriba: a youth development project organized from Casino, Baraka. We planned a meeting with David and Gaylord, two of the elders we met at the first villagers meeting last Friday. We got a warm welcome of the complete board of Riafriba plus some youngsters that participate in the project, a total of eleven people. By reading their vision document it becomes clear that they are here with the same intentions as us: they want to unify and empower the youth of Molo by doing workshops together with them. They say the reason why they started their project is that the youth is idle and lacks stimulation: “youths are left on their own and can’t escape their situation, because their parents are not able to support them”. Riafriba is registered at the government as a self-help group since three months. According to their administration, they started with a group of about 100 people from exactly the same area we wanted to operate on. They have done a needs assessment in the area, and they say to have five classes with different subjects: dance, drama, drum, art and sports. They didn’t start educating the youngsters on entrepreneurship themselves. They are extremely willing to cooperate and include our input in their project, as they mention this multiple times. We tell them we want to think about this and want to decide whether we will cooperate together with our supervisors.
After that, we talked with Riafriba about organizing events and workshops for the youngsters in the area. David tells us that we should take in account the people who leave the group in time, as their group of youngsters has shrunk to 25 youngsters. He tells us the best way for reaching a large number of people in order to promote an event is through the churches. When we saw their administration, we noticed that the youngsters paid 50Ksh each for administration costs. When we told this to Faustus, he said this is normal when registering for a youth group. At the end of our meeting with Riafriba, they invited us for a talent show they would organize next Sunday. They also would like to participate on the needs assessment, together with some of their youth.
We are doubting to collaborate with Riafriba right away, because we have some concerns about the intentions of the board members of Riafriba: we never heard from anyone that there was a youth initiative in the area, and the financial part of their vision document contains unrealistic amounts (for example: they want 15 acres of land and around $500.000, - of total funding). Also, they want to pay themselves. The reason why we still favor working together is that the people we met seem sincere and have heart for the youngsters and they said themselves that the vision document ‘was just for having something on paper, in order to get a license at the government’. To confirm that Riafriba is indeed not something that just exists on paper in order to get funds, we want to ask youngsters in the area if they know the organization, as Riafriba claims it once reached a big group of youngsters. We will also be visiting the talent show next Sunday. Should Riafriba be what they claim to be then it would be a shame that two kilometers away from each other two initiatives are doing the same, it would also be a bad example of thrust and cooperation in the area. At last, working together with Riafriba could mean we are able to reach a much bigger impact on development in the area than we could achieve on our own. On top of that we could make them responsible for the continuation of the project after we go back to the Netherlands.
After our meeting with Riafriba we left to Baraka College, were we spend the rest of the day figuring out what the contents of the needs assessments will be. We decide to open with a questionnaire, to get to know a little bit more about their personal opinion and the situation at home. After that, we do a small ice breaking activity before we start a discussion with the group. We are going trigger a discussion using a SWOT analysis: we will be putting a chalkboard with the four areas of the SWOT analysis drawn on it in the room, where the discussion leader (one of us) will be putting sticky notes. We will ask for them what the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are of Molo and the youth of Molo. After we put the sticky note with their answer on the board, we will ask them why they think it belongs there. After the session, we will be telling them in short the quick conclusion we drawn of the day and check with them if they agree.
Thursday - 24th of November
This morning we have a meeting with sister Lucy, to talk with her about the needs assessments and to ask her opinion on collaborating with Riafriba. We propose making lunch for the participants of the needs assessment in order to make the people more relaxed before we start the needs assessments. Lucy does not think this is a good idea, because she fears that the participants will think that we will be making lunch every time we will meet and therefore take advantage of us. She also thinks that serving tea is not a good idea. She also thinks that working together with Riafriba is not a good idea, because she does not know their intentions because they are not operation from the church. She tells us that she will be busy the coming weeks and that we should contact brother Peter in order to involve him in the project. We also think this is a good idea because, as a man, it is in Kenya sometimes easier to communicate with other man.
Friday - 25th of November
Therefore, we have a conversation with brother Peter the next day in order to update him about the project and to ask his opinion about Riafriba. Peter also says he does not know the intentions of the board of Riafriba, but he will ask around about the history of the board. We tell brother peter that we want a maximum of 45 youngsters in the needs assessment and that we will have to make a selection when too many people want to enroll during the second villagers meeting this afternoon. Peter thinks that is possible, but we have to select them at random because of people feeling being excluded on purpose. Therefore, we are going to do a transparent random selection at the villagers meeting to select the youngsters that will participate in the needs assessments. Apart from that, we will also invite the twenty elders selected by sister Lucy.
After our meeting with brother Peter, we have a meeting with sister Esther Mwaniki about Riafriba over the phone. Esther wants us to do what feels best and what serves the youngsters in the area best. But when we want to fully cooperate with Riafriba we should consider that we won’t be working together with the Sisters of the incarnate word anymore, because they don’t want to be associated with an organization from outside the church in this sensitive area. We will continue the project without Riafriba, doing the needs assessments and the workshops, until we make a decision in which way we will cooperate with Riafriba. We prefer working together in an unofficial way, so we can help Riafriba obtaining their goal of unification of the youth, while the sisters stay neutral. This way we can check if the intentions of Riafriba are sound, and if and in which way we should cooperate the next years.
This day we also have a conversation with Kevin ‘Brown Bett’. Kevin has multiple jobs and is among others active on the field of environmental issues. He is a proactive and entrepreneurial kind of person who lives in Molo some days of the week and we wanted to talk to him about his experiences in the area. Kevin has some experience with doing needs assessments in the area: doing a needs assessment was part of his research about community vs. environment (why do people cut down forests, and what could be done about it). Kevin thinks it won’t be very difficult for us to obtain the needs of the people of Molo, because there have been other needs assessments in the area they may have experience. At the end of our conversation Kevin said that he also wanted to take part in the needs assessment himself.
In the afternoon, we had the second villagers meeting. It was raining, so only forty people attended the meeting. Therefore, we allowed all youngsters that wanted to participate in the needs assessments to enlist. We asked the youngsters after the meeting if they knew Riafriba, a few of them were actually enlisted.
Sunday - 27th of November
In the afternoon, we attended the talent show organized by Riafriba. It was on the field near the primary school near Casino. About forty youngsters attended the talent show, there were five different acts in which youngsters showed their skills in dance, rap and poetry. They were really happy that we came by, and we had to tell our story even twice. We asked the youngsters after the show if Riafriba organizes this kind of activities more often. They told us that there have been around ten of these activities the last three months.
We look back on a turbulent week, in which we had to think again about how we can contribute to this area, after discovering the existence of another youth project with about the same intentions and target group as we have. Not only have there been new challenges, we also made progress in finding out how we are going to give shape to the project, in terms of having scheduled needs assessment sessions and having a plan for the way we are going to organize the project after that. We found out that it is difficult for three technical students to cope with all the social problems this society has, and that it is a good thing to have Faustus around to guide us. Also, we are glad we met experts on this area in Nairobi, who are going to support us by doing a workshop on coping with these social problems in Molo.