I and my colleague begin working at the organization, Initiatives of Change, in their Kenyan office in a week’s time. Initiatives of Change is an organization which bridges differences and brings communities and cultures together to overcome these differences that may lead to conflict or have led there in the past. Initiatives of Change’s approach is both at the individual level as well as the larger one. Initiatives of Change seeks to bring about changes in individuals’ attitudes and behaviors to ensure a sustainable change in the greater community.

I have been told to keep an open mind as to what our job in Nairobi will be. I look forward to the grassroots movements and seeing how personal reconciliation takes place. Though the details of our job are to be known upon arrival, working with individuals to enact change will be a life-altering experience. As my focus at Georgetown is on the private sector and corporate social responsibility, I am interested in understanding how grassroots movements are made and how the private citizens and businesses can be a part of the overall positive impact.

Upon completion of this fellowship, we are to write a report detailing our summer experience. The focus of this report is open-ended. However, my current idea of a possible research topic is to see how individuals can bring change through their own behavior. I am interested in seeing the reach individuals can have regarding reconciliation and whether these individuals can also enact change in different sectors including the business sector and others. Though this is a broad topic, I will be able to sharpen my research as our job positions commence and I see how the situation on the ground truly is.

My updates will be weekly and I welcome comments and questions as my summer fellowship carries on.

For more information on Initiatives of Change, please visit their website: http://www.iofc.org/

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Comment by Jennifer Lentfer on June 2, 2012 at 8:54am

Thanks for sharing Deborah - you might find this chapter of Ruth Stark's book, "How to Work in Someone Else's Country" helpful: http://www.how-matters.org/2012/05/13/some-motherly-advice/

Enjoy the inevitable triumphs and challenges of your fellowship!

Comment by ELMARD OMOLLO on June 2, 2012 at 5:00am

Good morning Deborah,

Karibu (welcome) Kenya. A young lawyer, my name is Elmard Omollo, the Programme Coordinator at Community Organizations Practitioners Association of Kenya (COPA-K). At COPA, we train community organizers to articulate issues affecting them for sustainable development among others. I was recently hired to oversee this through a 3-year programme. Indeed, your study seeks to build values which will enhance peaceful coexistence based on the practice of non-violence among others. This is where our paths cross. We also work very closely with other grassroots organizations and social movements like the Nairobi Peoples Settlement Network, Muungano wa Wanavijiji, Ngazi ya Chini etc under the auspices of the CSOs Coalition on Housing largely on issues to do with urban resilience.

As an individual, I have been engaged as a consultant with the IRC in documenting best practices in their cross-borer peace building project (in Uganda and Kenya) as well as the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission of Kenya among others.Such exposure may find relevance in your portfolio of activities.

Please purpose to pay us a courtesy call when you are here. We have planned for a training forum (among other activities) on reconciliation for our community organizers ahead of the 2013 elections and would appreciate your presence (passive or otherwise). We would love to support you (albeit in a small way being a small organization) with your study as well. Kindly contact me as hereunder:

Elmard Omollo,

Programme Coordinator,

Community Organization Practitioners Association of Kenya (COPA-K),

Ayany E state, Bus 42 terminus, opposite the Door Christian Fellowship Church

P. O. Box 6253 - 00200 Nairobi, Kenya.

Tel: 020 2726740, Office Mobile: 0727 - 918105, Fax: 020 2726740

Email: copakenya@yahoo.co.uk Website: www.copakenya.com

Over to you!

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