On the Road to Maisha Bora

One of the overarching goals of the Bungu Project centers on human capital development. Not only do we want to ensure members of our farmers group have healthy crops, access to new markets, and greater opportunity for income security, but we also want to see them reach their fullest potential personally and professionally. At the end of the day, we want our partners to believe in their abilities as individuals and empower them to harness that belief into actions that will improve their lives. In order to foster this growth, we lead team-building sessions on responsible decision-making, time management and preparedness, group cohesion and interdependence, as well as project-specific discussions on making it to maisha bora or “a better life.” We recently held one of these team-building sessions to refocus and redouble everyone’s efforts on how we as a unit can make it to maisha bora. Ground team leaders Ana and Hailey spearheaded the discussion and led partners through several exercises. These exercises were crafted to clearly demonstrate how each person’s efforts as a singular unit contributes to the overall health and functionality of the Bungu Project.

The meeting began with a discussion focusing on where we are currently as a group and where we want to be; the next step for our project is to become an independent business, and we wanted partners to fully visualize and understand the viability of this reality. We then used clay to mold different objects that each person thought would be useful in contributing to the group’s functionality. Partners then had to explain the rationale behind their creations. This exercise got everyone smiling, as a room full of adults suddenly morphed into a room full of small children mushing around makeshift play-dough. Everyone was exceptionally proud of their laughable designs and made meaningful contributions to the discussion on how we can mold ourselves to better contribute to the group as a whole. We then moved on to probably the most important exercise where we discussed what it means to farm as an individual versus what it means to farm as a group. In recent months, flooding as well as waning enthusiasm of partners has prevented members from planting during agreed to planting times. To get everyone reinvigorated to sow their seeds under the new planting cycle in October, we used a mock buyer-seller scenario to demonstrate why it’s essential to the project to uphold this responsibility. Senior Project Coordinator Hailey served as a buyer and various group members took turns selling vegetables to her. Each person was equipped with a small amount of vegetables, and whenever an individual came up short in filling an order, other group members were relied upon to help bring the order to completion. By the end of this exercise, group members had a better grasp on why maisha bora can never happen if we’re traveling on the road to a better life alone.

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It seems the partners left the meeting feeling renewed in mind and spirit, with many showing appreciation for our efforts to refocus everyone on the end goal. Although the bulk of the team-building was centered on how to strengthen the group as a whole, the underlying purpose was to foster personal responsibility, critical thinking in group activities, and an overall appreciation of the strength and value of each member. While we’ve each got a long way to go to get to the better life, I believe in our partners and fully anticipate they’ll continue to use their talents to make it to maisha bora pamoja, hatua kwa hatua.

-Whitney

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