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"We succeed together or fail alone…"
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"We succeed together or fail alone…"

Joshua Orawo pixYoung people in Africa have many ideas for community development, but Joshua Orawo, 24, a Correspondent from Kenya, argues that consolidating those ideas is an important step in turning plans to action.

A fortnight ago, I received a phone call from a young Kenyan with a passion to impact his community through certain developmental initiatives. He is lost about where or how to roll out the project. He wanted help with bringing to life the initiative and subsequent management of the project in order to realize the desired objectives. He said he had talked to a number of people from whom he had hoped to find help but none was forthcoming. So it goes.

In the last two years or so, I have listened to numerous young Africans with a burning desire to ‘give back’ to their communities, even where the communities gave literally nothing to the youngsters warranting the giving back. The ideas they have are unmatched, innovatively creative and unique. But all they have in most instances is just that- the seemingly very good idea of creating a social impact on their people. They are uncertain about the exact plan of action for giving life to their very good ideas.

Now it is agreed that it is a very good thing to conceive ideas, as a matter of fact, all great accomplishments were first simple ideas in the minds of those who conceived them. But the most important thing that must follow the conception as a matter of urgency is the act towards implementation of the conceived ‘thing’. The urgency is borne out of understanding that the human mind conceives so many ideas at any given time that should the ‘owner’ of the human mind fail to act upon the ideas, they are likely to be lost as the mind continues conceiving newer and seemingly better ideas thus overtaking the previous ones. If ideas are not acted upon, they become nothing more than good intentions – but good intentions do not help anyone unless it drives the person with the intention to take an action. So it goes.

The intention of this article is not in any way to discredit the great conceptions of the great minds of the sons and daughters of Africa who have dared to think, at least thinking that features the society and her inhabitants and not just the selfish self. On the contrary, it seeks – while applauding the minds for thinking community and service – to point out the folly in the implementers of already acted-upon ideas for refusing to take the hands of the young minds and help them clothe their abstract concepts with concreteness. It is to critique our folly – the African youth – in failing to comprehend the kind of force we are as a single organised group helping the individual members implement their desires for their communities.

That Africa has great minds, especially in our generation, cannot be overemphasized. This explains the existence of thousands of well-overseen youth-led initiatives and organizations throughout the continent today. But that also borders on the humanitarian and kind nature of the African folk, so that for us it is not just about accumulating wealth to secure one’s future, but also about the good of the bigger if not the entire community. However, the people charged with overseeing these initiatives must be warned of the dangers that await them in the event that they opt to go it alone. The only way to succeed in our noble engagement is by consolidating our various ideas, including those that have never been acted upon before, and creating an action plan in respect of every idea independently or as a merger, and subsequently acting upon the plan.

Youth in the not-for-profit sector are faced with myriad challenges, the major one being obtaining funding for their projects. I attended an NGO management round table in Nairobi and while there, I raised an issue which I thought was important for that kind of forum. I asserted that donors and fund-giving organisations, especially those with their origin in Kenya and Africa, do not fund projects because they are creative with prospects of succeeding. Rather they fund people – people in the not-for-profit sector – with whom they (the donors) have established some relations and therefore feel comfortable extending the funds. What is the plight of start-ups run by young yet creative and focused men and women who know no one in the ‘world of funding’? The facilitator thought the question was too direct to be answered in the plenary. Instead the facilitator called me aside after the workshop and confirmed the position raised by my question, but tragically failed to give the desperately needed solution. I knew instantly that young people in not-for-profits would have to wait longer for ‘their time.’ But now I believe I know better, though I keep learning.

photo credit: International Livestock Research Institute via photopin cc

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About me: A community-mobilizer, youth activist and laws graduate, I am the Executive Director of Intreach Community, a civil society organisation involved in philanthropy for impoverished children and other under-served societal groups. I work towards all inclusive political leadership, where the youth, women and children can voice their concerns without fear and where equality and mutual respect thrive; and a society where fundamental human rights are revered.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/
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