Partnership is key in development work. This was quite obvious on my visit to the semi-arid region of northeastern Kenya, where the sight of sand dunes, acacia trees and camels provide an indication that life is hard. Tough weather conditions – drought and sweltering heat – are not the only challenges. Insecurity in the region has discouraged even those with best intentions. After militants attacked a nearby University earlier this year, many development workers including teachers and medics vacated the area.
Springs of Africa partners are staying on, steadfast in their desire to bring hope and help to this region. Springs of Africa is honored to be partnering with DOVE Africa, and in turn with an entire network of partners, toward this end. Through this network, we have not only pooled resources together but also skills and expertise that support the work.
DOVE and Bethany International are collaborating on projects in both the
health and agricultural sectors. Together, we are farming in this formidable area using pumped water from River Tana. The 10-acre farm has a variety of vegetables including kale, spinach, kunde and managu, and a young orchard.
Although farming is part of the history of several local tribes, most have abandoned farming due to the harsh conditions and opt to keep livestock and burn charcoal. But in most cases, they rely on relief food – which may or may not come! The farm project, therefore, exists to encourage local residents to produce their own crops.
A clinic, open every Thursday, provides health services to surrounding villages and the nomadic tribes of the region. On every clinic day, more than 100 patients receive free medical care including medicines.
At the same site, piped purified water and solar electricity are in place. Community members are given a chance to charge their cell phones at a subsidized fee of 10 shilling (one cent). That is quite an attraction!
In addition to farms and a clinic, Springs of Africa has collaborated with DOVE and a church in South Africa to establish Ziwani Academy, a school for children in the village.
An experienced school administrator from yet another church in the region has volunteered not only to teach, but to give administrative advice and help teachers effectively partner with parents for their children’s success. Previously, education was seen as unnecessary and unimportant by most parents in these nomadic tribes.
That is not all. Women empowerment groups, in which DOVE collaborates with yet another local ministry, is reaching out to women. A team, through Joyful Women Organization, visits different women groups every week where they educate women and empower them financially through savings and table banking.
We are grateful for all of these courageous and committed partners and trust that God will continue giving strategic connections – powerful partnerships – toward significant and holistic change.
By Kenneth Irungu