It would be an understatement to say that I am exhausted. I just concluded a whole week of intense mapping and profiling of CSOs in Kisumu, Kakamega and Eldoret and I still can’t believe that I had all that energy.
I had an amazing team and if it weren’t for the hard-work and commitment they all showed I bet I would be stuck somewhere between Nairobi and western Kenya with my questionnaires.
I have met so many people, experienced different cultures and had hearty laughs with people I just met for the first time. These are some of the moments that I will miss very much when I go back to the office to enter and analyze all the data the whole day and get stuck in traffic for hours on my way home.
Kisumu is a port city in the Western Region of Kenya. I did not come to see the port but to see the ‘CSOs Headquarter’ as it is known in the NGO world. While I expected a massive number of NGOs who wold come out, I only got a quarter of the expected number and I was disappointed.
Kakamega brightened my face. After what seems like an endless road in the middle of potholes, I reached the motorcycles and bicycles filled streets that make them appear like swam of bees. Much cooler than Kisumu thanks to the dense Kakamega forest. The organization of the CSOs is amazing and I manage to visit a few as well. Six is a low number to choose from 50 but when each of them insist on giving you something to drink or eat, it can be a very big number. One of my hosts tells me that ”the culture dictates that when you come to visit me, I must offer you something and it is only courteous to take it”
Eldoret is a fast growing Kenya and at 2200 meters above sea level I found it a bit colder than Kisumu and Kakamega much to my relief. The CSOs turnout overwhelmed my team and I knew right there that they must be doing something really good. this was confirmed as soon as I started profiling the Community Based Organizations empowering their members, the Non Governmental Organizations that are advocating for peace and human rights, the Associations that are bringing together different sector actors, the Youth Groups that are not defined by the ages of their members and the women groups that are sending their members children to school; all registered. How more inspiring could it be?
Tomorrow I will catch a flight back to Nairobi with all the data but more important is what I cannot capture in a questionnaire or with a camera or my GPS receiver and voice recorder.
It is the expression on my interviewees faces when I interview and map them. The enthusiasm to explain what they do, the brightness of their faces when they talk about their achievements but also the sadness when they tell me the different challenges they face in the course of their work.
What I want to know is if CSOs in Keya are making a difference.
However tired I feel today, it was all worth it!
Erik, a GIS/GPS expert who is mapping tge CSOs observes that “If CSOs have to make a difference, the leaders have to see it not just like a job but as a chance to raise the living standards of their target beneficiaries”.
There is need to build the leaders as well as the personnel capacity so that they can achieve the organization’s objectives and be accountable.