In November 2013 RA undertook its first off-shore mission to Kenya, to create links with local organisations in the towns of Kibwezi and Embu. Our intentions were not to presume what disabled people need, but to go and meet with people in these towns to understand more about their lives and daily challenges and to have them tell us what kind of equipment they feel could make their lives easier.
Our conversations resulted in an understanding it will not just be our equipment which could prove to be of future use, but also how we can, for a small financial outlay, help disabled people to set up or improve their own small micro-businesses. We have also identified how we could create employment opportunities for disabled people to assemble specialist mobility equipment in Kenya, as opposed to just receiving unwanted items from the UK.
Possibly most transformational of all, could be the difference we now feel RA could make after visiting several schools and also seeing for ourselves how a water project has transformed the lives of people in one particular area. Improving water distribution has the potential not only to transform the day-to-day lives of villagers, but also longer term sustainability through food production and accompanying income growth.
Perhaps most importantly we now have a network of Kenyan contacts, so have the chance to not just provide some much needed ‘aid’, but to also work directly with communities to develop themselves and to thereby make a much longer-term positive difference.