Telling New Stories – A Reflection on Listening Projects

Tatua Kenya, originally Be the Change – Kenya, was founded in 2010 with the goal of creating new and sustainable ways of eradicating child poverty in Kenya. The founding members were deeply disturbed by the fact that children at orphanages in Kenya ate one meal a day, had no clean drinking water and couldn’t afford to go to school. For years, people had been trying to address these problems through outside donations but every time the money would run out the Kenyan orphanages were left to find another donor. My experience as a community organizer gave me the knowledge needed to train youth leaders in Kenya to mobilize local resources for orphanages, thus providing a more sustainable revenue source. In doing this work, we were overjoyed, university students began a food drive to feed children, raised donations to pay salaries and organized a health clinic the treated 60 children who were in need of medical care.

However, something far more beautiful was happening under the surface, the team I worked with was transforming. Young adults, who had never had opportunities to lead began to assert their agency and in doing so recognized themselves as powerful agents of change in this world. They were waking up to the truth that they could do whatever they wanted and, what they wanted was to achieve justice in this world. In the past four years, I have come to understand that truth as the beginning of change.  Change begins with us realizing our intrinsic power and dignity.

Over the last four years at Tatua I have moved away from the attention to fixing the physical challenges of poverty and increasingly curious about this one question, “How do people wake up to the power that lay dormant within them?”

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