Learnings From Kiu, Kenya

By Shadrack and Victoria 

Note:  Shadrack is our Community Development Coordinator, and his work mainly entails working closely with our community’s leadership, helping in developing their capacity as they define success and prioritize initiatives across five critical areas of development. 

Victoria has served Kiu Community as a Community Cordinator since 2020. She was born and raised in the neighboring and already graduated community Ngaamba and grew up as a sponsored kid under the 410 Bridge sponsorship program in Ngaamba and came back to serve her community under the 410 Bridge.  

Our Partnership Began in 2009

Our partnership with Kiu community started back in 2009 making it one of the first communities to partner with the 410 Bridge since its inception in Kenya in 2006. 

At the 410 Bridge, we work through the community leaders who ensure continuity of the community’s development even after graduation. During our partnership journey, we walk alongside indigenous community leaders and church leaders as they mobilize and unify the community to participate in their own development – shifting their perspectives and owning the solutions.  

The Kiu Leadership Council

The Leadership Council are elected by the community members to ensure  that everything is indigenous led, owned and sustained during and after the community partnership with 410 Bridge, with leaders being elected from each village in the community and also representative from the local institutions, that is the church leaders fellowship, the primary schools board of management etc.

This composition forms the Leadership Council (LC)  which drives the community vision in partnership with other stakeholders in the region. With the evolution of the 410 Bridge over the years the community leadership elections have shifted from appointment to elections of leaders with a office term limit of 2 years. 

With The Community

At the 410 Bridge, we do not do for, but with the community. We work as partners and it’s the responsibility of the community, through its LC, to assess and leverage their community’s gifts and strengths as well as identify needs and initiate their development.

The leadership development journey of Kiu community experienced a-lot of challenges after the appointment of the first LC in 2009, four years down the line they could not stir the community’s development to the next level and this prompted a stalemate between the community and the 410 Bridge  and as a result the partnership stopped for a period of 3 years. 

A Stumbling Block

This was a learning moment to see how poor leadership can derail community development. We believe in the power of the people as the leaders acted as stumbling block then the community stood up and elected other leaders who reignited the community vision. 

From then to date the LC have tirelessly worked toward the development of their own community through the partnership. They have been able to mobilize various community development projects. 

What Things Were Like Before

Before the partnership families lived in extreme poverty, decent meals were very rare, children walked to school barefooted, no school pullovers, grade 8 was the last dream for most kids to accomplish and thereafter get married or move to their relatives who lived in towns to baby sit under little or no pay for girls, and boys to get to sand harvesting business or into drugs.

Kids being sent home for days due to school fees was a norm. kids’ performance dwindled due to no hope of joining high school. Getting water was a nightmare that most community members could not unshuffled. Fathers running away from responsibilities due to the punitive economic times was not new to women.  

Drunkardness and drug abuse was a day in day out trend for both women and men.  

The Community’s Solution Was Themselves

In the year 2009 when the 410 Bridge partnered with the community things took a turning point. The community started realizing that the solution to their problems was with them. From a family’s small portion of land, they realized they can have plentiful of harvest that can sustain family for long periods of time through the Foundation for Farming training.

Men and women got into a variety of income generating activities through small businesses like agribusiness, tailoring, general shops, and green groceries, all made possible from the Business start-up trainings that changed the mindset of community members who sat idle on their potential and different capabilities.  

Child Sponsorship

Through school sponsorship by the 410 Bridge, families and teachers now go all-out to encourage kids to work hard as they have seen the importance of school. University graduates are not scarce in community as before the partnership and this has encouraged young kids and even parents to see to it that their children join colleges and universities for higher education.

Children who’ve been through the sponsorship program are uplifting the living standards in their families, who before were wallowing in abject poverty.  

Access to Clean Water

The communities dream came true in attaining clean, sustainable, and accessible water at a maximum of 30 minutes round trip while others get it at their doorstep. Community members played a crucial role in trenching and backfilling of pipes during distribution as they were thirsty for development in the area.  

Local Moonshine

The community experienced rampant illicit brew (moonshine) almost all the villages in the village had a den for brewing.

Men, women and children were lost in this cheap brews increasing immorality among school doing children, increased school dropout and teenage pregnancies, but the community now cherishes a society free from drugs and this was substituted by a thriving church community with more giving their lives to Christ and pastors enjoying a thriving ministry in their churches. 

Child Mortality

Home and unsafe births leading to child and mother mortality, childhood illnesses like kwashiorkor, marasmus and cholera narrowed to zero after Community Health Volunteers trained and facilitated in different villages in relentless pursuit of a health community and preventive measures.  

The Ndalani water project is still leading in terms of sustainability across our communities, with close to half a million Kenya shillings in the community bank account, something other communities can learn from.

This is because of the leadership and support the community has towards their own development. The community has rely evolved, in all socio-economic aspects from fetching water from contaminated rivers and dams which were seasonal to taped clean water within reach. 

The Impact of our Partnership

This is just but a handful of what Kiu community is currently enjoying, fruits of partnership with 410 Bridge.

All the transformation witnessed was made possible through collective efforts of the community who were always on toes tirelessly working hand in hand with the 410 bridge to influence the rest of the community members towards development, embracing intelligent ideas from brilliant minds and connecting to government networks. 

A Growing Tree

If you look back and ask a random community member the difference in Kiu community between 2009 and 2023, they can simply relate the community as a growing tree which has already matured and started to produce fruits. The LC who have been  the vision carriers of their community are now taking up the mantle and leading in the sustainability of all the initiatives which were done in partnership with the 410 Bridge and other development partners in the community. 

At the 410 Bridge, we do not measure our success by what we do, but by what the community does on its own. Our goal is to help advance communities to the point of graduation, where they no longer look first to outsiders for solutions but look internally to leverage their own gifts and assets. We are proud of Kiu Community for this. 

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