As a community development volunteer in Shianda village, Western Kenya, the volunteer has an opportunity to work with 26 local women groups and over 300 cooperative members with the main aim to support the ongoing activities and strengthen the community in the fields of project management and basic finance reporting, trainings and coordination for cooperative’s agricultural activities, tailoring activities and t-shirt printing entrepreneurship. As well as supporting the general coordination of the community based organisation’s activities, trainings, applying for funds and reporting.
In Wefoco, there is one part-time employee – a director – and one person employed to provide the computer services at the office, all others are local volunteers. Therefore, the community development volunteer will be working tightly together with the director of the organisation in order to facilitate the implementation of Wefoco’s activities. It is an interesting position in a grassroot organisation in rural Africa, which enables the volunteer to learn about resilience building and development cooperation as hands on as possible. The EU Aid Volunteer will stay in the village, where living conditions are basic and privacy can be limited as people are interested in the activities, in addition the choice of food is limited. There will be several other long-term volunteers staying for the same period.
Western Focus Community Organisation (Wefoco) is a community based organization (CBO) in Shianda in Western Kenya that was started in 2004 as a self-help group and later registered as a community based organization in 2009. Wefoco consists mostly of 26 women’s groups in several areas and is focused on orphans, families suffering because on HIV/AIDS and generating incomes of those in need. Additionally, Wefoco has initiated also a cooperative in order to support the community people in joint agriculture, currently the cooperative has over 300 members who grow maize, vegetables, chicken, fish etc.
Wefoco's mission is to develop a sustainable community based initiative that promotes welfare of community people and Wefoco's vision is through its activities directly or indirectly reach to every vulnerable child in the community.
Our approach consists of work in the following fields: education, HIV and AIDS campaign awareness, income generating activities, capacity building activities, gender inequality.
Education: 25% of primary school aged and 75% of secondary school aged children in Shianda can’t afford education. We work to ensure that all children in Shianda village join school. This helps them stay out of child labour, as well as building a promising future for themselves.
HIV and AIDS campaign awareness: Compared to other areas in Kenya, high number of people is infected with HIV and AIDS. Our aim is through awareness raising and counselling to reduce the rate of infections and to provide care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS and their families.
Income generating activities: Most people are poor due to unemployment, low job opportunities, ignorance and lack of education. We work to give people necessary knowledge and opportunities to increase their incomes.
Capacity building activities: Large parts of the population in Shianda, especially people who are living in deep rural areas, lack access to education and information. We work to strengthen the skills, competencies and abilities of people so they can overcome the causes of their exclusion and suffering.
Gender inequality: Women are not treated equally to men and they can be discriminated against in society. We work to give women necessary counselling, to give them a voice and encourage them to be independent and stand up for their rights.
Operational details & security context
The EU Aid Volunteer will work in Mumias East subcounty, in 3 wards and 8 locations, which are in the village, consisting of Wefoco group members, as it will be indicated in the work plan made on arrival of the EU Aid Volunteer. The EU Aid Volunteer will be working 5 days per week and will have 2 holiday days per month. The mode of transportation that the volunteer will use in the village is motorbikes or walking short distances. Motorbikes are ideal mode of transports especially in the interior village but care must be taken where the routes are not well maintained. Shianda area experiences heavy rain from March to June and also from September to October. During this period, volunteers are advised always to ask for safe routes since some of the roads becomes almost impassable when it rains heavily. They are also advised to finish their activities early in the afternoon since most afternoons programmes are hindered by onset of rain. By the help of group leaders, the volunteers will be able to organise meetings for them with members.
The EU Aid Volunteer will be oriented on aspects of security, though in Shianda generally the security status has always been favourable and not hostile. This is not to say that we don’t have unfortunate cases and the volunteers should always be aware of the possibility of such incidents and have office contacts for efficient communication in case of any. Volunteers are also advised to have knowhow of the current laws, by-laws, and rights to avoid issues with the local authority.
Shianda is situated in equatorial tropical climate, region which is prone to tropical diseases such as Malarial and typhoid. For this case, volunteers are advised to seek for anti-malaria medication, vaccination and other related conditions according to their health history.
The hosting organisation has developed security management plan, health and safety policy and a security briefing that are updated regularly. These documents and briefing will be shared with the EU Aid Volunteer at the beginning of the project.