Why Does Kenya Matter?

Why Does Kenya Matter?

By Brian Cole I am on the Advisory Board for Kenya Matters, a nonprofit organization supporting an orphanage in Karai, Kenya. Having recently been formed, this Advisory Board met for the first time a few months ago. At the end of that day spent together sharing ideas about the future of Kenya Matters, I asked a question that challenged the assumption of the organization’s title. “Why does Kenya matter?” As a relative newcomer to the organization, never even having visited the  orphanage site in Karai, I thought I might be giving voice to the questions of others who may have been exposed to Kenya Matters, but do not have first-hand experience with it. My question had nothing to do with the inherent worth of the project, people, or country, but rather the priority of Kenya Matters over and above the many other worthwhile charities and nonprofit organizations out there. Why should people support and invest themselves in Kenya Matters projects rather than something else? After the resulting Advisory Board conversation and through my personal reflections, I arrived at two answers to this question. Kenya Matters is Relational Kenya Matters was birthed from a personal encounter with the people and culture of Karai and is “rooted in relationships and mutual cultural learning,” according to founder, Jason Anderson (see History). This emphasis on relationships still continues today, with current President, Randy Buist, and some other Board Members regularly bringing their entire families to Karai to support the ministry there, deepening friendships and establishing new ones. The focus of the organization’s work is on relationships, not simply throwing money at perceived problems. As the Vision Statement indicates, Kenya Matters addresses the “physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of orphans,” a holistic approach that demands personal relationships to fulfill. If you talk to Kenya Matters leaders, or those who have visited the orphanage in Karai, you will hear many more stories of personal interactions and relationships than of building projects. Kenya Matters is a Community Although much of the organization’s work focuses on building relationships and providing material support to orphans, Kenya Matters understands that this work cannot be done properly apart from the broader community. That is why self-sustainable community improvement projects are taken on to extend the support to the entire village. These are accomplished through partnerships with and empowerment of local Kenya Matters staff and other African leaders.We are also part of this community, as the lives of those involved with the organization are intertwined with those of our Kenyan friends, as well as to each other. Together, we share in the successes and struggles of these efforts to build communities of human flourishing, here and abroad. Although listed above individually, concepts of relationship and community are tightly connected, both being necessary to fulfill the ideals of each. Relationships are key in truly caring for and supporting a community. Strong communities are built on a foundation of quality relationships. This is happening through the organization’s projects in Karai, Kenya, and here at home through the involvement of its supporters who resonate with this relational and community approach. If you have a connection to Kenya Matters, you are already part of this community. If you don’t, you are invited to be a part. Strong relationships are critical to the success of this organization. Through the broadening and deepening of relationships we are increasingly able to recognize our interdependence, allowing us to identify how each person can contribute in their own unique way. The Kenya Matters community grows stronger when we choose to take that next step — responding and actively investing of ourselves. So instead of asking whether or not Kenya matters, a better question would be: How will I give of myself to support it? For more information about Brian’s work, you can find him online...

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