Strategic Plan for Community Transformation

August 2017

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • 1.0 INTRODUCTION
    • 1.1.1 Mission
    • 1.1.2 Vision
  • 2.0 PLAN FOR COMMUNITY TRANSFORMATION
    • 2.1 Core Principles for Approaching Community Transformation
    • 2.2 Approach to Poverty Alleviation
    • 2.3 Committee Responsibilities
      • 2.3.1 Kenyan Committees
      • 2.3.2 US Committees

1.0 INTRODUCTION

Spring of Hope International (SOHI) is a 501.C3 non-profit organization registered in Spokane, Washington. The organization is dedicated to improving living conditions and promoting Christian spiritual growth among the people of the Karachuonyo region of Kenya and beyond. This is a rural region of approximately 50 square miles with a population of about 50,000. Extreme poverty, disease, and death are commonplace. Since its inception 13 years ago, SOHI has partnered with the hard-working people in this impoverished rural community empowering them to improve their lives. Thousands of lives have been touched. SOHI’s mission, vision, and approach are focused on the organization being a catalyst to help local Kenyan communities develop affordable, self-reliant and sustainable solutions to their challenges.

SOHI is a Christian-based non-profit organization. As such, our motivation and the inspiration for our work in Kenya is grounded in our love for Christ and our desire to be His hands and feet in the world to demonstrate and communicate His love and accomplish His purposes. Jesus cared about and ministered to people’s physical, emotional, and most importantly their spiritual needs. The fundamental objective of His coming to earth was to provide the means for all mankind to be reconciled to God and fellow mankind. SOHI seeks to emulate that level of love with the people we serve.

1.1.1 Mission

Empowering African Communities with the mindset and resources to alleviate extreme poverty

1.1.2 Vision

To nurture Christ-centered community transformation in Africa

2.0 PLAN FOR COMMUNITY TRANSFORMATION

Holistic and Sustainable growth are the key ingredients in SOHI’s approach to poverty alleviation. The organization’s foundational premises for addressing poverty are:

• Progress must be accomplished through empowerment of the local people.
• Transformation efforts should be holistic, thereby addressing all key aspects of society life rather than a single element; such as clean water alone, and
• Transformation should be sustainable with initiatives producing positive results that can be self-sufficient and transferable to other local communities.

History has shown that, except in the case of extreme emergency where immediate life-saving relief is required, handouts by themselves hinder, rather than facilitate sustainably improved community living conditions. This is because “handout-based charity” creates dependency and stifles the confidence and belief of the local people that they can improve their situation. Furthermore, well-intentioned “spot fixes” consistently fail to result in lasting solutions. Thus, long term partnership and commitment to community-lead transformation is the optimal approach to help the hurting.

The following list of core principles were derived from years of experience in the region as well as concepts from the book, “Mindset Change for Community Transformation” written by Bishop Titus Masika. This book chronicles the dramatic reduction of poverty that occurred in the Yatta community in central Kenya. As stated by Bishop Masika, “Community development is about people, not projects.”

2.1 Core Principles for Approaching Community Transformation

Four core principles adopted by SOHI provide a roadmap against which all initiatives for assistance and empowerment are assessed.

  1. Core Principle # 1: Mindset change is essential to community transformation. This principle applies to all aspects of human life because a new or revised dream or vision for a better future provides a compass to guide the path forward. Having no compass or doing things in the same way they have been done for generations results in random wandering and/or no changed conditions. For community transformation to occur in rural Kenya, several fundamental changes in perspective will be helpful. Some key perspective changes are:
    1. From little or no hope for the future (futility) TO belief that life can and will improve.
    2. From fear that God may not be concerned with Kenyans’ local circumstances TO certainty that God cares deeply about the people (individuals and community). He does not intend or desire for them to struggle to survive; instead, He intends for them to thrive through faith in Him and confidence that He will be the power behind transformation. God is the engine; the people are the vehicle for change.
    3. From individuals’ feelings that they are victims and powerless to elicit change TO assurance that each person has God-given abilities and resources that can be used to improve their circumstances.
    4. From a church that loves God deeply but may not fully realize that they are God’s children and agents for change TO a church that is excited and motivated to be leading the way for the entire region to improve physical, emotional, and spiritual living conditions. And in doing so, sharing God’s love with the lost and enlisting them to be part of His army.
    5. From waiting passively for “someone” to do something to make things better TO stepping out and acting confidently and courageously to affect positive changes.
  2. Core Principle # 2: Community transformation must be a grassroots movement starting with individuals. As visualized in the graphic below, people living in poverty often hope and/or expect that the government will initiate and implement changes that will reduce or eliminate their suffering. Unfortunately, history has proven that this is seldom the case. Successful transformation from poverty is best implemented when individuals catch a vision of a better future and take action to make it happen—with the help of God.

    The Mindset Change Approach is essentially the concept promoted by Bishop Masika that proved to be successful in Yatta and other communities in Africa. It is characterized by the following steps:

    1. Individuals catch the vision, begin acting, and share with families.
    2. Families work together to identify needs, resources, and implement positive change causing actions.
    3. Community members witness transformation taking place and join the army of change agents.
    4. Government removes “red tape” (bureaucratic roadblocks), encourages and supports transformative actions, and may provide some infrastructure and resources.
  3. Core Principle # 3: Simultaneous progress in all primary aspects of society life is foundational to holistic community transformation. These areas involve physical, intellectual, and spiritual facets of personal and community life that will lead to a healthier lifestyle and the alleviation of poverty. These focus areas include:
    1. Access to clean water is an essential physical factor that is crucial to physical health. Without healthy bodies, people cannot work or learn efficiently or effectively. This is a critical problem within the Karachuonyo Region since clean water is typically 300+ feet below ground. As a result, families without access to clean water resort to drinking pathogen laden water from ponds and rivers.
      1. Economic development is needed to provide the means for physical life improvements. In the current subsistence farming communities, agricultural irrigation is currently essentially non-existent. Thus, frequent chronic droughts devastate crops leaving farmers with dangerously little to eat and a lack of economic income to purchase necessities.As an initial step in economic development, irrigation, sourced by the collection of rainwater in hand dug water pans, will permit year-round farming and reliable crops for food security. This action will improve peoples’ physical and emotional health and foster increased productivity and learning capacity. It will also result in crop yields greater than basic family survival needs. This excess can be sold thereby providing economic resources within the community for educational improvements, improved family living conditions, and starting new economic enterprises.
    2. Education of young people is essential for sustaining community development and imparting hope for a better future. Education of the youth, combined with its ensuing hope and vision, are the mechanism by which healthy and sustainable change will continue into the next generations of family and community leaders.
    3. Spiritual development provides the force behind community transformation. This power is the Spirit of God working in and through His people. Without hope people perish! This lasting hope can only be found when people put their faith in God. The church should be the catalyst to change with pastors preaching and exemplifying mindset change and the congregations leading the community by action and word.
  4. Core Principle # 4: Kenyans must lead community transformation–NGOs cannot. Transformation efforts that are not community led typically do not have the buy-in or ownership of the local people that must implement, sustain, and cultivate positive change. Thus, these efforts typically flounder or die.
    1. SOHI strives to be a junior partner with Kenyan leadership and the community owning and leading the changes. SOHI’s primary roles are:
      1. Praying, loving, and encouraging.
      2. Assisting with the identification of technology solutions for resolving community identified needs.
      3. Assisting with planning and implementation of community initiatives.
      4. Providing training and education.
      5. Providing resources for sustainable transformation initiatives where appropriate.

2.2 Approach to Poverty Alleviation

SOHI in collaboration with community leaders has identified four aspects of community life, termed Focus Areas, that are considered essential. The four Focus Areas that have been adopted include: Clean Water (and sanitation), Education, Economic Development, and Spiritual Development. These four areas, when addressed simultaneously within and by the community, will improve the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of the people and reduce poverty in a holistic way.

The Kenyan community, with the help of SOHI, has assembled four committees corresponding with the focus areas. They are made up of individuals with leadership talents, passion, and abilities to lead transformation initiatives in their respective focus areas. SOHI has assembled parallel “sister” committees in the United States to collaborate with the local committees. The functional model diagram, below, provides a visual representation of the parallel committees’ inter-relationship.

Each Kenya-based committee, is supported by a corresponding committee in the US. Kenyan committees are largely made up of community appointed individuals with vision and recognized leadership abilities. Typically, two members participate from each of the four locations: West Kanyaluo, South Kanyaluo, East Kanyaluo, and Kanyipir. US committees are made up of typically 3 – 6 individuals that: 1) understand and are passionate about the work SOHI is doing in Kenya, 2) feel called to support the efforts within a specific focus area, have experience and/or expertise that will be beneficial to the committee’s efforts, and 3) have the ability and willingness to commit time to participating on the work of the committee. Important to the success of this model are SOHI Kenyan employees, local to the region, who act as liaisons to facilitate communication between the US and Kenyan sister committees for each focus area. These individuals also act as the primary advocates and conduits for implementation of community transformation initiatives.

In keeping with the “Core Principles of Community Transformation”, Kenyan committees lead community transformation initiatives working closely with their corresponding US counterparts as well as the other focus area committees. It should be noted that efforts in all four focus areas are interrelated and that great synergy can be realized through collaboration between committees.

SOHI’s goal is to systematically promote healthy organic growth of community life improvements across the entire region. As one community is empowered, local community members become the catalyst, trainers, and leaders for continuing the work in neighboring areas. SOHI will continue to expand its support organically across the region. Empowerment spreads as
SOHI’s help comes with an expectation that the recipients will freely share what is learned with their neighbors. Indeed, this is already becoming a reality in the Kanyaluo Location and beyond.

2.3 Committee Responsibilities.

Because of the different attributes and needs in each focus area, the different committees operate somewhat differently within the guidelines of the core principles discussed previously. Following are some common functions and activities that fall within the responsibility of committees.

2.3.1 Kenyan Committees

• Establish a charter that guides the responsibility and objectives of the committee.
• Determine and prioritize the greatest areas of need within the focus area.
• Identify community-based solutions.
• Identify local resources that can be utilized to implement solutions.
• Prepare plans for moving forward on initiatives. Share needs and plans with US committees for thoughts, ideas, and assistance.
• Train, encourage, and inspire community members to engage in plan implementation.
• Mobilize the community to get involved in community transformation efforts.
• Interface with the government on efforts and initiatives affecting the community. Acquire assistance where possible.
• Oversee sustainable solution initiative implementation.

2.3.2 US Committees

• Generate and propose simple, transferrable, sustainable ideas and technology solutions for community identified needs. Present these to the corresponding Kenya committee.
• Prepare research, analyses, studies, calculations.
• Arrange and/or perform training in Kenya.
• Develop tools/aids for planning, tracking progress, and pursuing funding.
• Apply for grants for special projects.
• Establish partnerships with NGOs to strengthen the resources and capabilities of SOHI.
• Spread the word about SOHI’s work to generate new support in the US.
• Help raise funds for specific initiatives within the focus area or SOHI’s work in general.
• Submit an annual budget for work within the focus area.
• Submit funding requests to SOHI board for special needs.
• Recruit for and participate in vision trips to Kenya.