ROBINS OCHIENG' ODIYO from Kenya's Kericho Cluster is also a co-leader of our network. Here he shares some of his experiences of what's important when working to grow a Cluster. There’s never been an NGO like this in Kericho. Normally an NGO comes here with the intention of a particular project, and they pay people to attend meetings and get involved with their project. It’s brainwashed many people to the point where they don’t think they have the ability to change their situation without first receiving money from outsiders. And so it’s crucial from the word go to make the Cluster approach clear with people.
SALT is everything for our Cluster. There is no single instance where it doesn’t apply: in our daily life, in inter-organisational relations and intra-organisation relations. If you don’t know about SALT, you should find out. A small like-minded team is sometimes all you need. Size doesn’t matter. It could just be a few organisations, so long as you understand the Cluster concept and build relationships with one another. A Cluster is not a quick fix – it’s a long-term thing. Sometimes, however, when you meet with one another you learn that your strength is someone else’s weakness, or your weakness is someone else’s strength. Then, it can be easy to help one another in a practical way. As a Cluster leader you need skin like the bark of a tree. Sometimes people come and rock the boat from within and make people fall off. Sometimes people’s expectations are not met. Sometimes people come and love the Cluster, and then open up and are very vulnerable with you and ask for assistance in various areas. You need to be strong to face these things. The Cluster has changed me a lot. I used to be short-tempered and quick to anger. The Cluster has helped me learn patience and to do things for others without expectation that they do things for me in return. I’ve made close friends here as well. There’s nothing better than sharing our stories. I advise people to always share their stories: you never know who will be listening, and what it might attract in your direction. Through stories, people are really touched. They are more able to relate to you, and they might understand that they’re not the only people experiencing a particular challenge.
Learn more about the Cluster model here.