As we sit in the airport awaiting our flight home, our One World Together team finds ourselves incredibly inspired and motivated following our first OWT Community Building Summit.
It was less than 1 year ago that One World Together was officially launched into the world, bringing to light the need to provide long-term, unrestricted funding to organisations closest to local communities. Now, 8 months later, we were able to bring our community partners together, face-to-face, for the first time to collaborate on how do we get more power and resources to the local communities in which our community partners work?
The secret ingredient – building solidarity and commitment among new generations of supporters alongside “partners that are willing to succeed with us, dream with us” (Chibwe Henry, OWT Chief Steward).
To make this dream a reality, SDI Kenya hosted ourselves and our four community partners – Muungano wa wanavijiji, Community Savers, Raising Futures Kenya, Play It Forward – at their headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. The One World Together Community Building Summit invited 17 representatives from our community partners to participate in the two day event. We’re excited to share with you, our readers, a recap of the event as well as an introduction to our wonderful partners!
To kick start the summit, our partners were able to share their amazing stories and successes, sharing knowledge between one another to bring power and transformation to their local communities.
For our first community partner, we have Play It Forward, who, since 2018, have been focused on using football to educate boys and girls in Zambia and to provide life-long skills. Play It Forward uses presentational messaging on top of playing football to address gender equality, sexual health, power imbalances in relationships, and promote literacy rates among the children in their program. Lwanga, the Country Director of Play It Forward, shared with us how football engages youths by “repurposing the passion [of kids] to become productive” and instils hope within local communities.
Second, we heard from Muungano wa wanavijiji, who is creating a space in Nairobi, Kenya for youths to amplify their voices and to transform their lives. Muungano Youth Federation leaders engage youths through photography, Know Your City TV , performance, and art, teaching them the power of storytelling to give them a voice in the world. Muungano is also supported by SDI Kenya, who provides technical support to bring their work to life. Muungano Youth Federation Leader, Kamila, said it best: “[We] cannot fight this alone, we need to come together”. The two organisations work hand-in-hand to return power to local community members and to improve the quality of life of slum dwellers and low-income individuals.
Our third community partner, Raising Futures Kenya, also in Nairobi, has worked persistently over the last two decades to empower over 900 young people, ages 14-25, through vocational training and educational programs with their Seed of Hope Program. Raising Futures provides life skill lessons and mentorship to guide local youths toward employment, allowing them to reclaim power over their own futures. Since 2004, 90% of young people trained by Raising Futures are employed or own their businesses within Nairobi!
The most amazing part of the day was the collaboration that began to occur amongst our community partners. Muungano was inspired by the measurable impact of Raising Futures Kenya, and began the conversation on expanding the Raising Futures model further into the informal settlements within Nairobi!
For our final introduction, we have Community Savers, who are our UK-based partner working in Manchester and Sheffield. The Community Savers team recognises that “poverty in the UK is [often] behind closed doors” (Sophie, Director of CLASS) and until you know a family, what is happening, you may not see it. Committee Member of the Dandelion Savers, Zoe, shared how low-income families in the UK need to make a choice of “do I keep my children warm or do I feed them”. To uplift these households, the Community Savers team brings people together from the community to support women-led savings initiatives; developing neighbourhood networks; designing and building projects; and co-producing local partnerships.
Amazingly, in 2016, Muungano wa wanavijiji leaders visited Community Savers to better understand poverty in the context of the UK. From this, a knowledge exchange began that allowed both organisations to understand that poverty looks different in various countries. Through their work together, the organisations have started to see that there are parallels in day-to-day struggles across countries, sharing successes with one another to increase impact in the UK and in Kenya. Their amazing work together continues to this day and has been an essential part in building our One World Together network!
Following the introductions of our community partners, we transitioned in our World Cafe discussion regarding the benefits of OWT unrestricted funding for their organisations. It was insightful to learn how your £1 donation to our Solidarity Fund has enabled our partners to be more creative and innovative with their solutions! The first disbursement from our Solidarity Fund has already allowed our partners to more effectively respond to community needs.
We were able to see this impact first hand during our afternoon visit to Muungano’s Foundation of Hope in Kibera. The showcase of artistic and performance talent of the youths in the informal settlement were a highlight of the trip for us all!
To kick start day two, we were hosted by Raising Futures Kenya at their new Seed of Hope vocational centre! It was an inspiration to see the vibrant school created for the youths and hearing from current students on the opportunities provided to them within the programme.
In the afternoon, we took part in a collaborative discussion on the use and standards of our shared online Community Space! This will be a space where our partners can demonstrate their brilliant work with our Global Citizens and continue to virtually work alongside one another.
During our workshop, Muungano shared their expertise on storytelling through visual media and the importance of focusing on positive and impact-driven stories. The Youth Federation cleverly uses Muungano Know Your City TV (KYC.TV) to provide a platform for different informal settlements across Kenya. The use of this platform “gives the youth the power and voice to tell their own stories” (Kamila, Youth Federation Leader) while, simultaneously, showcasing their talent and skills. “We tell the story of how community people are doing amazing jobs” (Kamila, Youth Federation Leader). Muungano uses storytelling to share the uplifting and positive improvements occurring in the informational settlements throughout Kenya.
To close out the summit, One World Together and our community partners started to create some content! We will be launching additional photos and videos from the OWT Community Building Summit on our new Community Space.
The OWT Community Space is a powerful tool to engage like-minded people to chat, connect, and create together! Our community partners and ourselves are super excited to share our impact stories and to interact with you, our Global Citizens. To access our Community Space, and to learn more about the amazing work of our partners, join us by becoming a Global Citizen! We would love to welcome you to our One World Together community.
That said, we will be partnering with the University of Manchester to host a celebration of our Community Space launch on the 15th of March 2024. We hope that you can join us for the event! Grab a ticket for you and your friends here.
We are delighted that this critical partnership-building work was supported by the International Science Partnerships Fund Institutional Support Grant (ODA) funding 2023-2024.