Sarah's Story: Short-Term Trip to Kenya

"When I heard about Global Hope Network International’s strategy of Transformational Community Development (TCD), I was impressed right away. I had my own opinions about international relief work from my past experience working with other organizations and knowledge from classes on community development. GHNI’s strategy was exactly how I thought relief and development should be carried out. I thought it was incredible that they train the local people to make change in their own village. And the supervisors (village coaches) are also local people. This was what I learned in my master’s program, but never got to see in person. I wanted to go on a trip to see how it actually worked on the ground, and if these principles stood up when challenges arose.  

While I was in Kenya, I followed the GHNI staff asking questions and hearing their stories and opinions. I wanted to know how it all worked, what didn’t work, and what worked well. I was impressed with the character of the staff and their heart to see lives changed. They really care about the people they serve. I also saw incredible challenges to their work. Wars and flooding and a culture of dependency. But I also saw hope. I observed a village meeting where the GHNI staff mediated a discussion about schooling for the children. The school was built and there was a teacher assigned, but the kids still were not in school. After an hour of discussion, everyone was motivated and excited to send their children to school as a way to give them a better life.

One of the GHNI Kenya staff told me why he believed their method works. It is because he is there. He knows the language of every village he visits. He knows their culture and customs. And they stay. Many organizations come to do a project and leave, but Global Hope stays. They are consistently talking with the people of the villages, teaching them, and coaching them. Even after the graduation ceremony, those relationships are still strong.  

I went to Kenya with high respect for GHNI, and left with the same respect. There are so many important lessons I learned that I will take with me into my future work. For sustainable change to take root, the people need to take ownership. For an organization to help make a lasting difference, they need mutual trust and a spirit of hope. An outsider is not as effective as an insider in development work. A coach and mentor means more to a person than a boss. Most importantly, TCD is a strategy unlike most other organizations', but it is effective.  

I had always thought I wanted to live and work in another country, helping and serving the poor. But after my experience with Global Hope in Kenya, I see there is a better way to help. I could still work for an organization that helps the poorest of the poor, but in a way that empowers the people and doesn’t leave them dependent on me. This trip really opened my eyes to see what is possible and what works."

- Sarah C.
Short-Term Trip Participant - Africa

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