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Building Relationships – How Community Engagement Can Work #1

Building relationships – how engaging with community leaders over time can deepen what otherwise would be fleeting impact. – Post by Geraldine Hepp

One of the main reasons why I joined Amani Institute is because it is located in the global South so people from all over the world can learn from the incredible innovations and ways of tackling really complex challenges present. – This ‘flipped global approach’ appealed to me because it offers an alternative to the prevailing mental models placing the South at the mercy of Western ‘saviours’.

In this series we will look at 3 different examples of how continued community engagement can create a deeper impact even though it also includes foreigners interacting with locals over a relatively short time-span:

Impact lasagna – Building capacity on multiple levels with Gatoto Integrated Development Programme

In 2013 Betty Nyahoga joined our first Social Innovation Management class in Kenya to strengthen her ability to steer Gatoto Primary School to a more sustainable future. What started as individual capacity building then developed into a deeper relationship that affected many layers of our communities:

Added value through Amani Fellows doing their apprenticeship in the school:
In 2013 Milagros Dallacamina ran a fundraising campaign as part of her apprenticeship with the school, developing amongst other things a book with the children sharing about their perspective on life. Read the book here.
Maria, who did her apprenticeship with Gatoto in 2014 shared about her lessons learned in this video:

Increasing Staff Capacity 
In 2015 Gatoto’s head teacher Gideon Ndambuki joined Amani as a Fellow and developed an innovation around his school’s art curriculum that saw his students achieve success in the Kenya National Music Festival.

Community projects – learning by doing
As part of our engagement with the school we ran a course in community engagement in 2013 for our Fellows to learn about participatory methods that left a deep impression with both our Fellows and Gatoto students alike.

Gatoto Primary School Students doing an exerGatoto School students with Amani Fellows

What could have easily been an one-off developed into a continued community engagement process that saw Amani Fellows bring the Oasis Game from Brazil to Kenya in 2014, including a project that taught Gatoto students how to use video to make their own documentary. Read about this experience here. Lucila Marquis from Kenya class 3 continued the tradition of Aman Fellows creating additional projects with the school and ran a Journalism course that resulted in a Newspaper made by the students in 2015.

Sharing Learning Processes:
In 2016 Kenya class 5 did their Design Thinking Class on-site at the school, seeing both, Amani Fellows as well as Gatoto students benefit of Nasreen Dhanji‘s expertise in value innovation.

Lesson learned: Impact through layers
If we look at how our relationship with Gatoto has panned out over the years it becomes clear that the different layers of interactions have added up to a broader impact than just capacity training or a single project could have achieved. Students at Gatoto have seen a continued engagement with our community but also witnessed how their own elders/teachers have engaged in learning processes, showing them that learning is a continued and mutual process of growth.

What are your stories of impact working with local communities that work? Please share them with us by contacting geraldinehepp@amaniinstitute.org – we are happy to share them!
Wednesday September 28th, 2016 by Geraldine Hepp
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