Ojola Group Meeting 8-30-09

September 8th, 2009 by Ojola JH

The Ojola Social Justice Group met on Sunday August 30, 2009 and discussed a Strategic Plan that had been submitted by the founder of the Ojola Project, Syprose, and her adult children. Things have changed in Kenya since the program began. In this new plan the family stressed their desire to shift the focus of the project from supporting small children to addressing the needs of orphaned youth. Now that ARVs are available, fewer children are being orphaned. Yet those young people who lost their parents in the HIV/AIDs epidemic of the 1990s and early 2000s, are now teenagers growing up without authority figures or role models. Without guidance, some run away, drop out of school, get into drugs, and turn to crime.

In order to be more effective, they propose the following steps:

  • Reconstituting the Board of Governors so that it includes local leaders (women as well as men) who can be counted on to invest time and energy, thereby fostering greater community “ownership” of the project;
  • Establishing a Grassroots Committee that will oversee the daily management of the project—Christine, another grown daughter, will serve as the administrator. She has taken accounting courses and has moved back to Kisumu;
  • Starting businesses such as a tailoring shop and a small cyber café in two of the rooms of the residential block. Such income-generating efforts would help move the project toward self-sufficiency, and enable single mothers, school drop-outs, and widows to earn a living;
  • Finding ways to further subsidize the post-secondary education of project beneficiaries (like Victor) who successfully completed Form IV, but would like to take a computer programming course to improve his chances of getting a job; and
  • Organizing activities for youths such as a football (soccer) team that would “motivate idle boys and occupy their time, with an aim of bringing them together for capacity building.”

The group discussed the proposal and focused on several points. There was concern about the security of the compound, especially if they are to purchase valuable equipment for running a business. They will need to consider whether a fence or security guard will be effective in protecting their assets. We also discussed fundraising ideas. We agreed that once we have a concrete, well-thought-out proposal from the family, it will be easier to solicit funds. We wondered about the possibility of helping them find a micro-loan program, especially for the businesses they wish to develop. That route might include some on-site support about running a business and how to succeed.

We agreed that we would continue to support the educational needs of the 4 boys currently in school. A local soccer organization here is eager to send used equipment, shoes and uniforms to help the Ojola program. We agreed that having Syprose’s adult children involved and increased involvement of the local elders and villagers is a positive step.

Cindy will communicate to them our concern that the new organizational structure gets firmly established before we move forward. Also, we would like to see a more detailed business plan and some steps toward securing the compound.