We had a wonderful evening debriefing with Megan Steele Friday night and it was so great to hear her report on the Kiang’ombe feeding / preschool program. In short, things are going remarkably well and the children and community are deeply grateful for the huge impact they are seeing. Megan is putting together some inspiring highlight stories that we will share with you in a bit.
The children are literally coming alive with excitement, hope, and confidence as they experience full tummies and full minds with consistency.
Meagan also shared a few amazing stories about what we call Collateral Benefit – the broader impact that occurs in very vulnerable communities when opportunity is brought to their children. I’ll save those stories for later, but I assure you they are just as powerful and exciting as the direct benefits Kiang’ombe children are getting. There is a growing hope in the community that is sparking change far beyond what we are directly doing at the project.
Megan also shared a sobering story that reminded us of how incredibly important it is to intimately know each community we work in and to critically evaluate ALL interventions before moving forward. It is so easy to let our relative power, affluence, and ego blind us into pushing forward too quickly and too strongly. This happens so frequently and can undermine or destroy local solutions that are already working.
At Ameena Project we strive to come along side our partner programs to empower local solutions for local problems.
Megan discovered that a dear friend of ours who lives near Kiang’ombe (and happens to be physically handicapped) had been caring for 5-6 children from Kiang’ombe daily out of her home. A small business for her, AND a local solution for a few very needy children. When we opened our Feeding / Preschool program in January guess what happened? The children left and she lost her income and personal involvement providing solutions in her community. This is a terrible reality that is extremely common with foreign and even local interventions and one that is often unseen or unacknowledged. This is not a problem unique to work in developing countries…..we see unintended consequences to legislation that seems so well thought out and intentioned, yet we find out later about the collateral impact.
Good intentions, good funding, and good ideas are not enough.
We must really get to know people and communities, and work hand in hand in true collaboration. We are thankful for the personal relationships that helped to bring this situation to our awareness. May we have wisdom when we meet in person in a couple of weeks … to come up with solutions that work for everyone!
Gratefully, yet cautiously we move forward with our partners in Kiang’ombe. Thank you Megan for your willingness to do all that you do.