April 11, 2017

Community Engagement

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Fundamental to our approach is the co-operation and full involvement of our local community partners. We strongly believe that if our work is to have a lasting benefit, then it must be much more than a handout, and one that transcends and transforms any such expectations.

We therefore seek communities that have the drive, desire and local leadership for progression and development and that meet our Selection Criteria. Our projects are designed to give local communities confidence in their ability to develop and maintain a community facility that acts as a focal point for their children, where they can play, stretch their imagination, learn and be inspired.

We start by identifying aspirational communities through approaching local groups and leaders. Once a potential community is identified we start engaging with the leaders to ensure that our vision can become theirs. We also assess the practical elements such as access roads and space.

The next step is establishing a playground in the community. This demonstrates the community’s ability to work together to complete a project and bring the children to an otherwise empty field.

If this is successfully completed, we then prepare a shipping container with books and more (see Collect in the UK) and transport it to the site (see Ship to Kenya). The community works with us to convert the container and contents into a library (see Create Library in Kenya).

Once complete, the library is maintained by local volunteers. Our two established libraries each have over 1,000 members and 250 visits per month, and run informal reading, writing and arts and crafts classes.

As part of the process, there are also some activities that bring the community together, such as sports days, trips to the nearby beach as well as trips beyond the children’s local community (something that many of them have never done).

There are many challenges along the way, and we have learnt much from establishing our first two libraries (see Current Libraries, Dzunga and Current Libraries, Chidzangoni).

We have found, from studying the impact of our first playground and library in Dzunga, that the engagement of the community with education is significantly increased (see Impact on Education).