How to Help Kenyans
- I hope this is on topic... It has some of my practical thoughts for
A permalink for my letter below:
And an extra link on How to Help Kenyans:
The best way to monitor our lab's work is through the letters on the
right hand side of http://www.ms.lt or simply by joining our most active
group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mendenyo/ led by Samwel Kongere,
send a blank message to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your attention. Andrius
Jennifer Brea wrote:
> Hi Andrius. I just saw your email. I am Global Voices' francophoneJennifer, You are already doing so much. Thank you!
> I've been calling my friends in Kenya. I am in the States right now
> and have no idea how to help anyone, other than sending a bit of
> emergency money to the people i know.
> I am a freelance journalist and do have some international contacts
> (Guardian, Christian Science Monitor, BBC, Jeune Afrique) and other
> contacts if you think that some specific kind of media attention would
> be helpful.
> If you have any ideas on how I can help, please tell me! I've been
> pulling my hair out with worry and the more blogs I read, the more
> frustrated I become with my complete inability to be useful...
We can reach out in opposite directions to the most vulnerable and the
most powerful so we are all one:
- The politicians may respond to
- The media and the citizens who may respond to
- The editors who may respond to
- The bloggers who may respond to
- The activists who may respond to
- The more isolated activists who may respond to
- The ever more isolated activists who may respond to
- The completely vulnerable
by whom we fathom the deepest roots of our humanity, the gift we share.
So you are making perhaps the most central link by reaching out to us!
Across that link as it grows stronger we can send more and more "signal"
back and forth. That includes money, information, work, values, songs,
relationships, ideas, concerns...
Money here is like a gift (as in "The Gift" by Lewis Hyde which Tara
Hunt gave me) which grows in value with each act of giving as the act
circulates (as in folk tales or tribal customs). Nancy White donated
money through our Minciu Sodas laboratory, and I added more donations
and sent it to Dennis Kimambo, who was able to pick it up in Nakuru and
purchase phone credits, then sent some to Samwel Kongere and others who
can't pick up cash, who sent it to Jackton Arija, who I hope was able to
facilitate a trade with somebody who still had some food, and so Jackton
could feed his children. The money does not make for more food, but
facilitates sharing, and oh what sharing! And we promote as leaders
every person along that chain and so they attract more attention,
respect, resources, help and sharing.
Through this gift giving we also appreciate and invest in those who may
give further. For example, just today Ricardo sent our lab a gift of
$2,000 to purchase parts to start work in Lithuania on the Includer
http://www.includer.org which we are designing for use by those with
"marginal Internet access". I am sure that the vitality that links us
all prompted his act. I realized today that this allows me to justify
shifting money that I would have spent myself and dedicate at least part
of that to respond to our great needs here. So it's now an easy
decision and I will send Dennis Kimambo at least $200 for pick-up on
Monday and more if others might donate and he will use his best
judgement, but probably give part in Nakuru where refugees are coming
and part in more phone credits throughout Kenya.
Similarly, by calling Kenyans
http://www.worknets.org/wiki.cgi?KenyansToCall we are comforting them
and giving them heart which helps them through the night when they are
afraid that they may be killed. They can be strong in their presence
and talk down or "silence" down any rascals, bullies, rash or unstable
people. They can reach out to others, both the powerful and the weak.
We should ask them for the news they would like us to share publicly.
And also for the phone numbers of the people that they would have us
reach out to. This way we can keep reaching out further and steer
together towards the most vulnerable so that all of us are included as
we direct our minds towards them. And then everybody along the chain
can help with that gift and it gains value each step it makes. That's
why I say we should keep focusing on the middle of the chain and make
sure it is vigorous like a whip.
Our activists on-the-ground are also writing reports (through letters
http://www.ms.lt, in the chat room http://www.worknets.org/chat/ , or
orally) and so our job online is to engage them, coax them, and then be
their secretaries and have the whole stream get shaped, typically onto
the wiki, into discussion group letters and then we need (a key missing
step here!) to make this of use to bloggers so they could digest it (and
also we need to ask them to focus on actions, how people can get
involved!) and then Global Voices can do its great work of helping the
media hear the bloggers and then the message may actually reach the
public, the civil society and the politicians. SO HERE IS A PLACE WHERE
WE NEED YOUR HELP TO ORGANIZE OUR CONTENT STREAMS! We excel at helping
isolated individuals but we need your help so that more volunteers might
participate. Maria Agnese Giraudo encourages us to link with Kenyan
NGOs and here again your work would be valuable. (I have one request
though - please as much as possible - encourage the use of the PUBLIC
DOMAIN (rather than copyright, copyleft or Creative Commons) because I
say none of those is a gift in the sense of a Gift, which opens free the
hearts of a human chain.
Another gift that we can give from far away is perspective on how to
"take up your enemy's point of view" which is the key to "fighting
peacefully". We currently have a window of hope in Kenya but it is
threatened by impending shortages of food and essentials. What is the
quickest way to make sure that food gets to the vulnerable? A simple
and sober analysis is that President Mwai Kibaki can with one utterance
"I sanction a recount" unify the country within a single day. He
chooses not to, and apparently Raila Odinga doesn't have the grace of a
Nelson Mandela to unify the country, either. But we can go straight to
the enemy who in his rage inflicts the chaos. We can take up their
point of view! One enemy that I see are the 1,500 or so Kalenjin youth
in Eldoret who are threatening to kill Kikuyus and also the Lou workers
among them such as Amos Obwanga
and I surmise that their roadblocks may be all that's keeping food and
people from getting to where they need to go. Whereas there are great
Kalenjins like Catholic Bishop Cornelius Korir in Eldoret who is
sheltering some 9,000 Kikuyus in his church (not far from the one where
Kikuyus were burned alive)
http://africa.reuters.com/wire/news/usnL05238863.html I urge us to
find the telephone numbers of any Kalenjins who might possibly engage us
and ask for their help to distribute money and phone credits to
Kalenjins in need. And this act of friendship can extinguish the gangs
in a single day. There is a Kalenjin website http://www.kalenjin.net
led by Kaplimo Hse, 254 722 992107 Oginga Odinga Street, Eldoret who
linked to that article and I have signed up for his site and encourage
us to do so and be active there. I will donate to him or any Kalenjin
who will work with our networks $100 immediately by Western Union or as
phone credits for distribution to Kalenjins who need help.
similarly let us show absolute love to every enemy we identify. Our
priority is to help the enemy.
If we grow stronger then we can ask for sensible and urgent responses
from politicians and leaders such as free SMS messaging for the extent
of the emergency, swift request and transport of food and essentials
into Kenya from Tanzania and Uganda, the sanction of "pirate radio" and
"pirate television" that activists might run, the organizing of "open
kitchens" where people can share meals and these are just ideas to open
our minds (thank you to Surya Prakash Vinjamuri of India).
We also share our spirit through songs, theatre, acrobatics, play,
sports and we can draw on so much culture from Kenya, Africa and the
world (Pamela noted the Catholic/Protestant choirs in Northern Ireland,
Janet the peace songs in Somalia) and offer fantastic symbols to lift
and unify those who labor and to enchant and occupy those who are idle.
It's beautiful to see the distillation of thought, such as "humanity
before politics" which Dennis wrote, and these memes are also gifts we
Women are often one step away from the completely vulnerable (or are
themselves) and so it is especially helpful (and extraordinary) to keep
reaching out towards them.
Jennifer, You are able to do so much and it is all so novel to be most
exciting. You reached out your hand to a social leper who I am. Our
Minciu Sodas laboratory http://www.ms.lt is so real and so demanding in
terms of focusing on our deepest values, the questions by which we grow,
the endeavors we wish to achieve, the people we can reach out to. We
are the last resort and you acknowledged us! And I remind us to tune
into our accountability as "independent thinkers" who are able to "work
for free" and know ourselves and want to openly grow and get things done.
With your help we can pull together the system that would allow our
focus on individuals to link up with the larger resources. We have an
inspiring team on-the-ground, a growing set of volunteers in our chat
room, fantastic personal reports. We need to link that to a team that
can organize the information, clarify the ways we can help in each case,
allow bloggers to see and point and comment to those reports and
concerns and ideas and potential actions. And the rest you know how to
do to have it reach the most powerful! Although certainly there might
be more coordination (much like Avaaz and others are pioneering) of a
kind that would wake up a Barack Obama (show your support!) I HOPE YOU
In my own heart I have been preparing to wind down and shift into a
slower gear. We are here for the long run. These next few days there is
a need for immediate help to avert shortages that might fuel more
violence. Donations are a high priority and we have shown how they can
be distributed through sharing the mobile phone credits (a great thing
about Kenya!). Tuning into the troublemakers is also urgent. As the
weeks go on I am looking for other ways for continuing. Instead of
simply donating, a business might, for example, pay our lab $200 of
which $100 would be distributed as we have and then $100 would go to a
participant in Kenya up front as a retainer for one month of part-time
knowledge work that they might perform during the course of the year on
some project. For our lab this would build our work capacity and allow
us, in parallel, both to continue distributing donations without charge
for those who prefer that, but also develop long term working
relationships with businesses. We then have the capacity for large
projects ($100,000+) such as the Includer which is the work by which our
lab sustains itself. This may be too early to think or talk about this
now, but I think and talk about it for my own sanity and to prepare our
team for a sane way of living. I encourage us to rest and work.
I have shared my vision and I look to you and all to link our visions!
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