Cluster Member DANIEL RONOH runs an HIV programme at a youth centre in Kericho, Kenya. He’s been telling Jake how the Cluster makes his work better, and allows him to share his skills with others.
Jake: Tell us about your work.
Daniel: Well HIV is a big problem amongst young people in Kericho. And so prevention and awareness are really important. My organisation is called Konnect Youth Consortium: we have a team of twenty-one staff, and HIV is about eighty per cent of our work. I oversee this HIV work, which includes clinics, drugs and treatment, and information, testing and counselling services.
Jake: Why did you join the Cluster?
Daniel: I got an invitation three years ago from a friend, and I went to a two-day meeting where I met Elizabeth [Arukah Network Co-Leader]. She was talking about the “SALT” approach to solving community problems, and I thought it was quite a unique idea, especially compared to other organisations that I’ve interacted with. I think I understood its vision of trying to get organisations and communities to solve their own problems, by talking with one another more. And it was something that really resonated with what I love, and so I joined the network.
Jake: And how do you benefit from being in the Cluster?
Daniel: Well I benefit from interacting with other organisations that do similar work to ours. For example, since Kericho Youth Centre rebranded as Konnect Youth Consortium, we have been looking to expand by incorporating more partners into our work, and being in the Cluster has allowed us to do this. The Cluster is also just really encouraging: when we share stories of what we’ve been up to – whether these are successes or challenges – we learn that other people go through the same things that we do. And so we relate to one another better.
And I have learned things that benefit me personally as well as professionally. For example, some Cluster members visited the Palm Tree Rehabilitation Centre a while ago, and they met people who are going through rehabilitation. From listening to their stories, I have learnt how to approach people I care about who have similar problems – it’s helped me listen to them, to better understand their context, and it hopefully means I can help them in the small ways that I can.
Jake: And you give a lot to the Cluster too don’t you?
Daniel: Yes, I mainly focus on training, capacity building and resource mobilisation, because this is similar to what I do in my job. Some Cluster members have requested that I give a talk or support on writing funding proposals, and income generation in their own organisations - I’m currently working with the women’s group Sparkle Again Foundation to help them with that.
Jake: What Cluster achievement are you most proud of over the last year?
Daniel: I’m proud that our members understand our goal to be a story-telling platform: to be a source of encouragement and learning in our community, rather than a place to look for finances or hand-outs. That we are all able to meet together on this basis is an achievement. We have over ten organisations in our network now, and over the last year as a Cluster we’ve paid visits to three or four of them – we get a feel for what they do and we encourage them.
But I am also proud that as a network we can make referrals. For example, we were in a meeting last year and we were told of two children with disabilities who were not yet placed for support. One Cluster member from an organisation whose core work is with vulnerable children came forward and was able to place these children in a school and cover their school fees. I am proud of these things too.
Jake: And I understand the Cluster is going to host an awards ceremony to recognise some of these achievements?
Daniel: Yes, we want to come together to recognise those who have joined our network, but also to recognise some of the achievements in our network. We want to collect these stories, and celebrate them. For example, last year Pendo Africa organised a huge open day for young people, which attracted new partners and new funding for their work. And the Palm Tree Rehabilitation Centre supported a number of addicts through their recovery process. We want to get these stories out into our network and the community, so that they can encourage and inspire the community.
Jake: And what’s the biggest challenge in the Cluster?
Daniel: Finance. We organise meetings and travel to bring members together, but these things cost money, and not all Cluster members have a stable income. So sometimes they find it really hard to travel to attend our meetings. But also, we want to have an annual conference, and we would like to do quarterly visits and meetings too. So we have some ambitious plans, but these things cost money. So I want to step up my role so we can make a success of this. We are already formally registered here as a local Community-Based Organisation, which makes it easier to access funds. I’m now looking to approach institutions like banks and business owners who can support us.
Jake: What other ambitions do you have for the Cluster? And for yourself?
Daniel: I want to challenge every Cluster member to find a role model in their area of work. This would help them accelerate their progress, and have someone to who hold them accountable. But also, we have great ideas, we meet, we talk, we share stories, but we really need to step up our implementation so that we can see progress, even if it’s in a small scale. And then – speaking personally – I have my own mentors and role models, but I want to be more of a mentor too. For example, I work with college students and part of my plans this year is – at the local college – to start a small movement in spirituality and preparation for college life.
To learn more about the Kericho Cluster, visit their page on our website.