Community Development among Nomads in Northern Kenya

I have lived more than half of my life serving communities in northern Kenya, a majority of it being a teacher in both primary and secondary schools. After visiting Sweden in 2004, everything changed. I took part in the international seminar in Vimmerby, Sweden, the start of the Bridging Ages network. Interacting with people from Sweden and other countries has been a great source of inspiration to me.

When I came home to northern Kenya, I shifted my focus to community development. Together with an organization from the Netherlands, we were able to build several new schools. I became involved in the Bridging Ages work and I was engaged in projects on Heritage, Education, Mathematics and Community building. A highlight was hosting the Bridging Ages conference in Ngurunit in 2014, with 150 guests in this small pastoralist Samburu community.

After another visit to Sweden and Two Sisters’ Church in Kalmar a few years ago, this church became involved in building a new school in a small desert village, Civicon, 130 kilometres north of Ngurunit. The village had evolved next to the office of a company constructing a road to a big windmill farm. When the company left the area, 600 people, including 200 children were still around, but without any services. Two Sisters’ Church decided to support the building of a school, with teachers and school. The community set up a school committee, which I coordinated, and which was supported by the church.

The school started in January 2019 with about 50 four to five year old children. Two local teachers were employed, and the children were served a meal every day. The women in the community, mostly illiterate, began attending the school in the afternoons and were taught reading and writing skills by a local volunteer.

In March 2020, the Two Sisters’ School, elementary and primary education, was inaugurated. The whole community was engaged in this inauguration. There were visitors from neighbouring villages and even a group from Two Sisters’ Church in Sweden. This was a historical day for Civicon, giving hope for the future and establishing a landmark for the development of the community.

The partnership with external organizations like Bridging Ages, Kalmar county museum, Linnaeus University, Two Sisters’ Church have given inspiration and support to local organizations and communities in northern Kenya. Through education and development, people have widened their perspectives and have learned to accept changes in life.

Steven Labarakwe, Kenya

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