Providing help to developing countries can bring up difficult questions. What kind of help provides lasting change in a way that honors and respects culture? What is the difference between empowering and enabling?
Part of the complexity comes because these questions are answered differently with each project and in each community.
That’s why partnership is so necessary. Truly listening to the people who know what’s needed is crucial.
Alabaster has learned this approach over its years providing care in Endonyolasho, and especially after the first aid clinic was built in 2015. While a structure stood as a beacon of promise to the community, more was needed. Local Kenyan partners told us that most urgent was a source of water in this very dry community. Water would enable healthcare providers to give better treatment to people who came seeking help at outreach clinics.
It was also the first step to transitioning the first aid clinic into a fully functional dispensary.
Since drilling a borehole in the area isn’t possible, Alabaster partnered with the community to raise funds for a water tank. Launched last year, the tank is filled a few times a year, and also collects rainwater, which can then be purified for use.
The water helps to clean wounds, mix medicines and relieve symptoms of dehydration that can be so common in this community.
Though sometimes building or providing equipment can be seen as troublesome in the development community – since so many projects are stalled or quickly become outdated – these projects can still provide powerful change. In recent conversations with the local ministry of health, Kenyan officials thanked Alabaster board members for their willingness to bring not just people to meet needs, but to also invest in infrastructure. Government can be slow and limited in its resources.
Partners who are willing to partner on projects like clinics and water tanks aren’t just enabling communities or creating structures that are lauded today and ignored tomorrow. Through careful – and caring – partnership, these projects can ignite greater change, and bring incredible hope, to communities.
We’re celebrating five years of visiting Kenya and building dignity, health and hope in rural Endonyolasho. Keep checking in for more of the story, which you have helped to make possible!