Harambee, harambee, tuimbe pamoja…

"A German woman who is organising a fund-raising for a children’s home in Nairobi is frustrated about the lack of support from Kenyans. A friend of hers says the would-be benefactor has not found any Kenyan living in Germany, who is willing to volunteer his or her services for a few hours. Some have even asked to be paid a little something but the German finds this rather callous…" (source: The Cutting Edge, by Watchman, Daily Nation, Kenyan Newspaper)

Similar to Afromusing’s challenge earlier this week, in which she asks all keyboard/pyama/blogging activists out there if they could imagine donating US$ 5 for a tree planting project, I would like to ask the esteemed readers of my blog if they could imagine donating some of their income for social projects like a children’s home.

In fact, I was just chatting with Irena about this issue and she told me about the agony of organizing a fundraising evening in the US  that just generated US$ 10 for a good project whereas ppl were spending 50 bucks each on food & entertainment during that evening.
Sorry, but that’s just so sick.

Hence, the provoking allegation that I would like to make and on which I would like YOU to comment on is that there are a lot people out there – no matter what nationality – that don’t give a damn about others. And it’s not only that they don’t care, it’s also that they seem to think that OTHERS might be responsible for the fate of street/abandoned children, the environment,  politics / etc..
Charity begins at home? For them it ends at home.

And what’s with all those over-funded non profit organizations that have some money to share? What kind of overhead expenses are generated by local NGOs? Where are the jobless volunteers that would jump on the boat to work as trustworthy representatives?
So many questions…
And yet I am afraid that all this once again ends up in the same way it often happens: people are just talking all day long and nothing happens the moment REAL ACTION is required. It’s so easy to rant about these issues, but it’s hard to deal with bureaucraZy and other obstacles that prevent e.g. NGOs from working efficiently. While there are some officials that understand that most NGOs are doing a good job and need to be supported, others are just using the system for another rip-off. And the people? They leave it to the government a.k.a. corrupted civil service networks. Again, this attitude of surrendering responsibility  to others which just drives me nuts!
Wangari Maathai, I think, wasn’t only awarded the nobel peace prize for planting trees, raising awareness for environmental issues or because the nobel committee wanted to send a signal. I think she got that prize mainly because she kept on fighting and never gave up.
I wish some of her spirit could have an effect on the Blue Band/PS2/mobile phone Generation worldwide – the kids of this next generation who prefer being entertained by the media and trade in any quest to have a postive change on this world for an easy, hassle-free lifestyle that doesn’t include taking care of others. And it is us – me, you, everyone – we need to teach them and live good values.

Yani, I take it that those who have access to the internet and take their time to read blogs might think in a similar way and do not need any further briefing on this matter. However, since there are still so many ignorants out there, let’s make a start and generate some awareness. It might not change much, but we need to start somewhere at least.

n.b.: the interesting observation is that charity seems to be much more common with the poor.

Author: jke

Hi, I am an engineer who freelances in water & sanitation-related IT projects at Saniblog.org. You'll also find me on Twitter @jke and Instagram.

13 thoughts on “Harambee, harambee, tuimbe pamoja…”

  1. JKE and Irena, I feel you on the fundraising front with regard to Kenya. I was involved in an organisation about two years ago where we were trying to raise funds for the famine in Kenya (yes that far back). On the day of the fundraiser, three quarters of the people who had said they were coming were no show. The promises made by some to send money never materialised. Many reasons and excuses were given why this was the case – I was too tired and fed up to take them in, in case, they were all blah, blah.

    I have attended fundraising events by Nigerians and Ghanians and the generosity is something to behold.

    I am slowly coming the conclusion that people just dont care. It is a sad and depressing way of thinking, I know, but I cannot see how else it would be different.

  2. You have raised very valid issues on the state of collective responsibility.It baffles me to see that woman in Germany asking for just 2 hrs of volunteerism from Kenyans and yet no one would show up. I bet if it was a paying job she would have had very many people showing up. There is tendency of people in our society to think that some things such as the homeless, the street children, the orphans etc are someone else problem , unfortunately the problem is in our amidst and no matter how much we may want to ignore it, it is there. Like the analogous I chat with you about the garbage that has accumulated in most Kenyans neighborhoods, as much as it is the local government responsibility, the residents have also contributed to the menace with the irresponsible trashing since “it is not their place to have a clean neighborhood”. Same thing with the charity for such causes, it is amazing how most of our people are stringent in such matters especially in the disapora yet they will fly miles to party in LA . I belong to a certain organization and trust me, it is for such a worthy cause and yet very few Kenyans shows up for our event..sad ,sad sad.
    About NPOs , it is sad that some are there for show to be seems as “helping out” where in deep down much of their Overhead is composed of travel and entertainment, totally ignoring the mission. I see it all the time, I work for one ,I should know.They get funding of which most of the chunk is spent on endless case studies, writing endless publications, endless dialogues with no real action on the ground and of course paying the staff heftly. This has becomeing the ground for money making for the retired CEOs so they have something to do after their heydays as big shots are over.
    As you said the poor individuals , people like you and me are the ones who care but we are also limited with means to do more….

  3. Good post JKE. I think part of what you’re witnessing is the “noise” in everyone’s life. Think about how much you are blasted with every day by the media, be it web, TV or Radio. I’m in marketing, so I can tell you it’s a helluva lot.

    Here’s what I think is happening:
    There’s so many people/companies vying for my attention every day. Yes, there is a social project that is important, but there’s also some starving orphans in _____, and that recent earthquake in ______. I know I can’t help everyone, so I’ll just ignore it all. I’ll say, “yes” to my friends in order to save face, but will just not come through when it comes time to pay up.

    Anyway, I believe the answer is not to just try and get people on a short-term basis. Lakini, you just pay me $5 and I won’t bother you anymore. You have to get them to buy in, to believe and to be a part of something. If you want to raise funds these days, you have to involve people and capture their hearts and minds – then their wallets.


  4. It’s just as much a problem here. Some time back I was trying to raise some funds for an old people’s home and full knowing Kenyans and their money are never parted I thought i’d be clever and solicit foodstuffs and material donations instead.

    Even with my twsit, I ran into the same problem, as Mshairi said. Guys promised heaven and hell until d-day.

    It’s tough, its very tough indeed.

  5. i think hash makes a great point about capturing their hearts and minds, then their wallets, i was still thinking about the appeal to bloggers, most bloggers/people have short attention spans, the question is often does this move me enough to do something, and if then, whatever you are asking for – be it time or cash, am i willing to? Its definitely challenging. Oh then there is the whole thing of ‘what is in it for me’. In the CCF? ads for orphans they say that the person donating will get a picture and a letter from the recipient of their donation. Definitely a challenge.

  6. I think it also has to do with our culture. Fundraising… the first thing that goes through most minds is who’s political career am I supporting? What camp am I supporting? Who benefits? What scam is being run? Might not be the person collecting, but in most cases, it is going to end up in someone’s pocket. Fundraising is just associated with such shameful stories in Kenya that unless one knows the beneficiary, it is like throwing money down a drain.

  7. I tend to agree with Omsiani on that because in a charity organization I belong to, the question that arises more often than not, is the transparency and accountability issue and it is quiet a challenge to convince Kenyans that the money is going to the intended use

  8. Am reminded of a story my dad told a bunch of us when he found us engaged in a discussion on the issue of charity. When he was in UK, he was approached by a woman who claimed that she wanted 5 Pound to help the poor African country of Kenya where most of its people walked bare for lack of clothing and had nothing to eat for lack of food. Bear in mind that this was in the early eighties, when akina Mathare and Kibira were called shanties and not slums.

    Even today in the age of globalisation and all that, it is sad to realise that the whites who we adore and are ever luring to give us cash, be it in loan (payable at 25% interest), tourism (otherwise we’d have slaughtered all of them) or aid (read http://www.thinkersroom.com/ on the issue of NGO proliferation in Kenya), The fact still remains:
    These buggers do NOT give a damn about us, or anybody else as long as we continue to import their guns, their plastic and their products (Seen the fools who are wearing heavy woolen and tweed jackets and boots in this hot weather, coz its fashion?).
    Woe unto us if we strike out on our own, (case in point: Afghnistan, Iraq, China, North Korea, now Iran) and chase away the “Imperialists” (Why does that word so irk the west? I am on Zimbabwe’s case here)
    Back to the issue at hand. Like M, i concur that this aid will only help the NGO’s fund their administration.
    The politics in this country is another matter alltogether. We are still waiting for the roads to be made(after the noise about bypasses quited down and Raila was thrown out of the ministry), we are still waiting to hear of the action being taken following the numerous reports by the respective commissions, we are yet to see the moneys stashed abroad, we are yet to see any new crop of politicians. we are yet to see.

  9. Thank you so much for your effort to help Kenyans who do not want to turn ear and eyas to what yopu have already acheived for the needy.
    Well l have lived in Nairobi for over twent fours and and worked with children for over seveteen years seven under someone and ten runing my own four children centres . What l know a bout my people is that they fear responsibility and always what to be spoon feed . You Must have a God given heart and calling to work thus it Must be a vocational not a carrier others keep on knocking on doors and you will find one out of 10 and who knows this you will succeed. Yes trying something and failling is better than just sitting and succeeed. You are not allone l have helped children and when they finish high the parents come for them and do not want to care how they lived for seven years or even ten. some times it is hard to help someone or people who do not appreciate your efforts But you know God knows you and He will give you more people to help you realize the hope that you you are trying to create in this hope;ess kids
    Please keep up good vision that you have and God will open ways for you
    Reve. Kuyanda Hudson

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