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Local champions: Mobilizing local resources

A Day Without Dignity is a movement started last year as a counter-campaign to TOMs Shoes One Day Without Shoes event. The day is about honoring the dignity of each person and supporting aid projects that honor that dignity. This year’s focus is on local champions – those leading local projects to address local needs. At Spirit in Action, we know that local leaders are the heart of change and it is our role to support these already active leaders!

One champion I met last summer was Margaret Ikiara, of Community Initiatives for Rural Development (CIFORD Kenya). I was so inspired by the work she was doing in her community to support other women and people with HIV/AIDS and now SIA is proud to support this vibrant organization, doing good in their own community. I asked Margaret to tell us about their work in her own words:


Tanya Cothran with Margaret, guardian, and kids

(L to R ) Tanya, Guardian, Margaret, and children in guardian’s care

Encouraging and working with people affected by HIV/AIDS

In Kenya the HIV/AIDs was declared a national disaster. This is because we are all affected or infected. This pandemic has continued to impact on the lives of Kenyans both socially, psychologically and economically.

The people affected directly are the ones who suffer most. These are people living with HIV/AIDS, orphaned and vulnerable children (OVCs) and the grandmothers caring for them. This is because the people who are dying of HIV are those who are in the productive age group. This has left the families and the whole country economically affected.

CIFORD Kenya is a community-based organisation working in Meru, in the north region of Kenya. CIFORD Kenya realised the challenges the people affected and infected by HIV/AIDS were facing in the society, including stigmatisation and discrimination. These people were left out in the community development agenda. This made most of the people lose hope and self-esteem.

Support and Working Groups

Margaret talks with one of the support groups

Margaret (center) talks with one of the support groups

With my leadership, CIFORD Kenya mobilised the people affected by HIV/AIDS into working groups. These were formed into: People Living with HIV/AIDS, and Guardians caring for the orphans. CIFORD did not have any resources to support the women. We brought them together and started training them the importance of self-reliance. We committed our time to capacity building where we encouraged the members to come together to mobilise their own resources.

CIFORD Kenya believes that the communities have the solution to their problem and understand best way to address them; all they need is encouragement support and some resources.

For the people living with HIV, we embarked on training them on positive living, nutrition and antiretroviral treatment (ART) adherence.  We also trained them on gardening for better nutrition and increased household income. This has made these people change their lifestyle and have self-esteem and then they become leaders in the campaign on positive living.

Some of the guardians at their weekly meeting.

Some of the guardians at their weekly meeting.

Guardian Merry-Go-Round Loans

For guardians, (the elderly women who are caring for children), we are aware they have a burden of supplying basic needs for children and there was need to make the guardians come together and start “merry-go-round” and savings group. There is no other way they can help one another other than to bring their resources together. The women have been meeting every Monday at 3.00pm and they have been contributing 20 Kenyan Shillings (Ksh) ($0.25), which is collected and given to one member. The impact of this money is clearly seen in the sense of relief of these women feel when it is their turn to get the collected amount.

The women have been starting small businesses with the money from the group to enable them support the vulnerable children they have welcomed in their households. The guardians are also trained on agriculture skills and livestock-keeping to improve their food security. The surplus food is sold to supplement the family income.

Through a gift, CIFORD Kenya brought in USD $24, to use as principal for loaning among the women at a 10% interest rate. The money has been of great value and many guardians have used the small loan to start small businesses. Most of them have been buying bananas and avocadoes to sell in the local market. The profits are used to support the family. After one year the $24 has grown to $66 as the interest is building on the principal. Women take loan for a maximum of $6 and as little as $0.60!

Solutions from Within the Community

The local problems in Africa cannot be addressed from the top but from within the community. The beneficiaries have to address their own problems in their best way possible. This is the only way that brings positive and sustainable change.  Little resources can mean a lot with full participation of the people in the problem.

There is need for partners to appreciate the inputs of the community members in the intervention strategy, in order to enable a sustainable development.


Visit CIFORD’s Facebook page for regular updates and more photos.

More posts about CIFORD: 

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