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Diary From Pokot

The Kericho Cluster in Kenya is starting to have an impact beyond its county borders. Cluster member LINDA SALBEI recently visited a rural community in the west of the country, where two new Clusters are starting to emerge. Here she shares what happened.

If you travel 200km north of my hometown Kericho, you reach the rural area of Pokot. When you get there, the landscape is the first thing you notice: while Kericho is surrounded by tea plantations in lush highlands, Pokot is a sandy, semi-arid area, not well suited to farming. It’s hot too. But the hills make for breathtaking views.

The people of Pokot practice and follow their culture to the letter. Both men and women dress in African attire and colourful beads. The men gather under trees in the centre of villages, carrying their tiny stools that they use to sit on or rest their heads.

I recently visited Pokot with two others from Arukah Network. Faith Tanui is a fellow Cluster member whose work (like mine) is to mentor and support young people in Kericho County. And also Nick Henwood. He’s a trustee for Arukah Network, but many of you will also know he helped design the Cluster model. Together we were visiting Pokot to support two local groups in the process of forming Clusters of their own, which will be supported and nurtured by our larger Cluster in Kericho.

Nick had visited Pokot some eighteen months ago. He had met locals – mostly community health workers and teachers – and together they had identified a need to better integrate the two professions, so that they can support and learn from each other as a community, in a place that is quite isolated. And so the purpose of our trip this time around was to build on these initial meetings, and take some practical steps forwards.

Linda, Faith and Nick at the end of one of their meetings

We were visiting two villages: Ngoron and Kolowa. In each, a local church hosted our meetings. I was excited to see many women come to these meetings, and we could tell that they were excited by it too. They were ready to learn and seemed dedicated to working together. In each meeting we had a discussion about the story of the Good Samaritan, and then did some training on SALT (a listening tool for developing a deeper understanding of a community). We also did some storytelling and short plays. This helped everyone present to learn a bit more about the community we were in, its strengths and its challenges. Faith and I then talked about how the Cluster had helped us in our own work, and our community, which hopefully encouraged them too.

Linda and Faith talking about the Kericho Cluster

The meetings ended well. In Ngoron, they agreed to appoint a health worker called Susan to become a Mobiliser for the group. And in Kolowa, an informal support group was formed, all of whom were based at the same church.

We returned to Kericho with the agreement that Faith and I will now be the main contacts with Susan and a local Pastor. They will keep us informed on how they are faring, and when resources allow we will make another trip there with more members from the Kericho Cluster, as a way to encourage their work together.

This trip was quite an adventure for me – I would not mind doing it all over again. Pokot is a beautiful place with beautiful people. And some beautiful chapatis too! At Arukah Network, we need to keep spreading the love, because for sure every community has the gifts and skills it needs to achieve health and wellbeing for all its members.

Linda was recently named Kenya’s ‘Social Founder of the Year’ for her work mentoring local girls in Kericho County. Find out more in this article.

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