“When we work together across cultures and continents while listening to the expertise that we all bring to the table in different ways, we can come up with sustainable solutions that change lives.”
I began volunteering with KIDS Initiative in October of 2020– almost a year ago already! After graduating from university in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was looking for opportunities that would both build my skills and keep me busy while I searched for a job.
With a background in sustainable economic development and community engagement, I jumped at the chance to join KIDS Initiative’sMarketing and Communications team. I had written blog posts and helped organize social media campaigns as a student, so I already had a little experience. What really made me excited about working with KIDS, however, was their mission to build sustainable solutions at a community level.
I believe that effective change, anywhere in the world, requires collaboration from everyone. It’s not enough for a Canadian to show up in Kenya and assume that they can do a better job at improving kids’ lives than the people who are already part of that community. When we do things that way, it is easy to assume that our answers are the “right” ones when we don’t yet have all the information. This can often cause problems, even when we have the best intentions.
What makes KIDS Initiative different is that they work with the communities they want to help – when they see something they want to change, they don’t assume they have all the answers. Instead, they listen to the people of the community, who are the experts in the problems they face every day. By working with everyone in communities like Lemolo and Kieni, KIDScan help local residents achieve sustainable, efficient solutions that they believe in and work hard to achieve because they have a voice in the decision-making and end results.
When I joined the Marketing and Communications team, I began writing blog posts for the website and creating the newsletters that we send out each quarter. From telling the stories of individuals in Lemolo or Kieni whose lives are being changed with our help, to highlighting the work our board members do to raise awareness, I aim to update our community on what KIDSand our partners in Kenya are achieving with their support.
After a few months of volunteering with KIDS and getting to know the rest of my amazing team, my other work (job searching) finally paid off. With a reference from my outstanding Marketing and Communications leader,Jessica, I got a job with a Winnipeg-based non-profit, where I serve our diverse community by providing free employment services and support. In this role, I strive to improve people’s lives by listening to what they have to say as we work together to find solutions and strategies that will lead them to success. Just this month, I even started working as their VolunteerCoordinator!
As a volunteer with KIDS, I help provide an international platform for the hard work of groups like the Kieni Fighters of HIV/AIDS, raising awareness for both their struggles and achievements in far-awayWinnipeg. When we work together across cultures and continents while listening to the expertise that we all bring to the table in different ways, we can come up with sustainable solutions that change (or even save) lives!