PeaceTXT Outreach: Over 23,000 NEW subscribers in the first 3 weeks!

March 26, 2012

By Jacqueline Njeru, Sisi ni Amani Kenya Programs Manager

The new year has been truly great for SNA-K. We have a series of community sensitization programs as well as a project with PeaceTXT to upgrade our SMS system to an open-source and scaleable tool, and to increase our subscriber base!

We are all very excited about these new programs, and I wanted to take a moment to share with you my reflections on our expanded outreach in Nairobi. Our work to increase our subscriber base in Nairobi, will focus on Baba Dogo; Korogocho: Huruma: Kariobangi and Mathare. In Narok we will be doing outreach in Narok North, Narok South and Transmara.

The first ten days of outreach to increase our subscriber base focused on the Baba Dogo and Korogocho slums in Nairobi. In ten days over 9,500 new subscribers signed up to receive SMS from SNA-K, thanks to the high level of commitment and dedication from our twenty outreach facilitators! Last week we expanded outreach to Kariobangi, Mathare and Huruma, and these outreach facilitators were joined by another group of outreach facilitators, with whom they attended the teambuilding training. Last week alone, forty-four outreach facilitators signed up over 13,000 new subscribers – our total number of subscribers is now over 23,000!

All of the wonderful outreach facilitators come from various youth groups and represent different groups within the areas where we work – we want to thank them: you are the BEST, we cannot make it without you!! We have been receiving and continue to receive positive response from the community, which is indicated by high number of new subscribers. Moreover, most groups that our outreach facilitators have had a chance to engage with and talk to have expressed a high interest in networking and working closely with Sisi ni Amani. We are excited to work together with these individuals to create new opportunities for civic education and civic engagement through our unique component of the SMS platform.

We have faced some challenge in recruiting subscribers, but are finding ways to overcome these challenges. For example, at first volunteers did not have ID badges and it was harder for them to gain trust and credibility. As outreach went on, the volunteers were given ID badges and more community members knew about SNA-K, and this challenge of gaining trust was minimized.  There was also an issue of insecurity (because of high levels of thievery) in some areas where volunteers planned outreach.  Koch FM, the community radio station with whom we’ve partnered on a discussion of community needs let us use their space so that volunteers could leave their phones and any valuables at the radio station when they went into insecure areas, and come sign them back out later.

As we move forward expanding our activities and subscriber base, it is important that we work for our community with the top priority and top most purpose being to improve the lives and relationships of those around us. This requires that we all have a heart of volunteerism and a passion for peace, and that we work closely with key leaders in the communities where we work. From here, we will be able to achieve a lot even if its’ on a small scale.

The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step and our journey as Kenyans especially in the areas where SNA-K is present is to have a positive peace based on active cooperation within communities and a foundation of solid civic education and positive civic engagement. Pamoja, tuweze kuijenga Nchi Yetu tukufu ya Kenya.

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Nairobi Teambuilding

February 15, 2012

This blog post was written by Caleb Njoroge, SNA-K Intern. 

As part of our work with PeaceTxt, and with the support of PopTech, SNA-K has begun the year with two teambuilding exercises: one each in Nairobi and Narok. As we work to scale our outreach and increase community trust of SNA-K, building strong teams of volunteers is crucial.

On January 28th, the Nairobi team undertook a teambuilding with at total of 40 participants with the goal of ensuring that the volunteers would be able to know each other well and understand the importance of teamwork in their work with Sisi ni Amani – Kenya. The group met in Baba Dogo at SNA-K’s Kasarani office, and took a bus to Mji wa Furaha, where the teambuilding day was held.

Summary of the day

The day included getting-to-know-you games as well as an overview of SNA-K, the technology, and our expectations of the volunteers. The day was then facilitated by Nyaga Kamau who has extensive experience with teambuilding, capacity building, and has worked at and sat on boards for organizations in Korogocho for many years.

SNA-K Volunteers play teambuilding game

SNA-K Volunteers play a teambuilding game

Kamau took the approach of playing games and then facilitating evaluation and discussion of the games to help derive lessons about teamwork. The day began with a game that was a cross between basketball and handball. The group was divided into 4 smaller team, which named themselves Bluetooth, Dush, Eagles and Aquatic. The teams battled it out on the court and the game ended in a tie for all the teams. After the game the group evaluated each team specifically wanting to find out their strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This made the team members of each team re-evaluate actions that might have caused them to perform poorly. Volunteers then bonded over a refreshment break.

The second session was not so different from the 1st one since it involved playing a game and getting a teaching after the game. This was very effective as the members tried as much as possible to work as a team during the games since they knew that they would be evaluated after the game.

SNA-K Volunteers Play Tug of War

SNA-K Volunteers Play Tug of War

After lunch the four teams that were made earlier in the day were merged into two teams so that they could play tug of war. The tug of war marked the end of the teambuilding games as Kamau tried to find from the loosing team what they did wrong and from the winning team what they did right. The members then had chicken as the day came to a successful end. The volunteers were given instructions on the upcoming activities in February, and were excited and happy as they had learnt that for any team or organization to function there must be teamwork.

Key Takeaways 

There were several key takeaways from the full group discussions and evaluations throughout the day.

SNA-K Volunteers Discussing

SNA-K Volunteers discuss lessons learned from teambuilding exercises

Some of the discussion and lessons learned focused on peace as a way of life. There is usually a tendency for people who are working for a peace organization to put differentiation between the work they do and the lifestyle they live. You will find a peace worker getting violent when he is at home or with his friends and when asked how comes he is violent and yet works in a peace organization he will say that when he is at work, then it’s his work/job to be peaceful but when he is at home then there is no work involved there and he can do as he wishes. The message from the teambuilding is that peace should be a way of life it should resonate from home to school to work and to any other place a person relates with other people, it shouldn’t be limited to one place or area.

Additionally, there were important lessons about teambuilding. When a rope is being manufactured the more the strands that are woven into it the stronger the rope becomes. This strength doesn’t come easy because the more the strands the harder they have to be woven together to stay as one. This translates into the concept of team work nicely since in a team there are many members that constitute the team and these are like the strands and team members have to communicate, respect each other, carry out their tasks effectively, share victories and failures and this is the weaving of the strands together into a strong cord that can’t easily be cut and that is the essence of teamwork.

In a team the members work together and no one criticizes the other: instead, when the team isn’t functioning well the members sit down together to try and solve the problem as a group and not as individuals. Here there is no pointing of fingers or accusations. Instead, there is correction of mistakes so as to enable the members to move on as one. If there is a success in the team, the team once again comes together and analyses the reason for that success and how to maintain that success instead of crediting one individual as the reason of achievement. This motivates the members to know that they are part of the success rather than one individual who might get carried away and think that he/she did it by themselves.

Another important thing to note in all effective teams is that, they all are brought together because they share the same passion, and that might be the only thing they have in common since they are from different backgrounds, ages, gender, culture, religion etc. For example, European football teams buy players from Africa, America South America and Europe. These are people who have never met but they all share one common passion: football. They will work together to produce results. No-one coerced them or forced them to be in their teams, they all do it because they each have a passion for football therefore if anyone is in any group, they should be sure that their motivation is based on a passion and drive to achieve the goals set forward by that team. For example, with regards to SNA-K, members should share a passion for peace, and that is the most important reason to be involved.