Corrections and Additions to the First “Our Working Group” Post

(Original post: Today we visited our Working Group!)

At the time of our trip, the exchange rate was approximately $1 for 100 Kenyan shillings (abbreviated KES, or Ksh).

The business shops or stalls are more like 6×8, not 8×12.

When you go on one of these trips, you really need to bring a notebook.  There are a LOT of facts and figures and names thrown around, and you can’t remember them all.

Bad grammar when I said “nursing them” (vague antecedent, or whatever it’s called).  I was referring to the orphans’ necessity to nurse their dying parents, not their siblings.

The kids we met were older but: they are the heads of their families, which may include other orphans who are too young to be treated as the head of their own family.  I think the typical ZOE family has a head who is 16-19 years old and maybe three younger siblings of younger ages, sometimes down to 3-5 years old.  We only met the family heads; not the entire families.  ZOE working group meetings consist of only the family heads, not the entire families.  These meetings are places where decisions are made, such as what group project to work on, which family (or families) to help over the next week or two, whether to repossess a family’s IGA equipment, whether to loan a family enough money to start an Income-Generating Activity, etc.

Relief vs. development: I had earlier said that ZOE does not provide food to starving children, only training and seed money for them to pull themselves up by the own bootstraps.  That was wrong.  In an emergency, ZOE will provide food for a family.

Utensil-drying racks: “Utensils” refers to all their cooking and eating utensils.  The racks are made of scrap material they scrounge up, and can be as simple as four stout sticks stuck in the ground with chicken wire on top.  The compost-sweeping-up-and-burning and the utensil-rack-building both serve as evidence that they are making efforts to better their circumstances, and helps determine whether they receive future assistance from their working group.

Speaking of effort: I have mentioned that the working groups work together on a group plot of land, to grow crops; and that they also undertake a group project.  This is great for building community, and to have meetings (ZOE actually strongly encourages them to hold their meetings WHILE working, instead of while sitting down, because (a) they get stuff done, and (b) sitting down can negatively affect attitudes and energy levels). However, any student of history knows that relying entirely on collective action can lead to problems with slackers, which is why there are also individual plots of lands, for which individual families are responsible.