My grandmother is a wonderful, witty and resilient woman. She is a woman who grew up through so much hardship but to this day is incredibly content.
I remember a story she told me of village life in 1940’s Kenya. Life was all about community and people understood and embodied the spirit of ‘Ubuntu’ which means
‘I am, because you are".
In my grandma's village it was important that everyone played their part in the harvest season, a success for one meant success for the entire village. In the spirit of Ubuntu, each person brought their shovel to help their neighbor in time of need.
One person's gain was shared as part of the overall harvest so where one individual rose, the whole village rose together. The villagers would work together to fix problems and share as a community the joys of the harvest, a house being built or the birth of a baby.
The pain of one was certainly the pain of all, and the joy of one was the joy of all.
In fact, strange as it may seem, it was practically illegal to go through a problem single handedly. If you didn’t help others, you automatically became a suspect, one that could not be trusted and subject to social scrutiny!
Families had issues of course, it could be marriage, a stubborn husband or a lazy wife , but still this would not hinder a communal gathering for a harvesting season. When the time came, all was set aside for the bigger picture as people fixed their eyes on the goal. All that was needed was a shovel to help the village harvest.
Sadly, my grandma believes that, due to modernization, many people have forgotten what it means to be human as they’ve become more focused on money and more focused on themselves. In the striving towards progress something has been forgotten along the way. The focus has become on independence and individuality instead of community.
She says “We think of success as our own and not our neighbour... It's all about what you, one person can attain instead of what we, all can achieve.”
Is she wrong?
‘Would you rather rise alone or rise together?’ she asks.
As a young person working in the child welfare sector, I’m continually amazed at how much we can achieve when we come together. It is quite an art to bring together our individual goals and synchronize them with a larger vision, a vision not only for the community but for the nation and ultimately the world.
Collaboration is not about being the best of friends, or even necessarily liking everyone you are working with. It is about putting any and all baggage aside and bringing your best self to the table and focusing on a common goal.
My goal is ‘a safe family for every child’.
There are certainly challenges in this, but similar to the farmers at harvest time we must all work together; not to just benefit ourselves, but to benefit the entire village. The harvest is far greater and far sweeter when we embody the same spirit of Ubuntu as my grandma's village, when we realize in finding safe families for children the gain of one is the gain for all.
I’ve recently become a technical advisor to 1MILLIONHOME and discovered how with partnerships around the globe, 1MILLIONHOME has, in a sense, brought together the world into a small village. It is not a race against hunger, chasing after harvests of corn and potatoes, but one for the lives and destinies of vulnerable children.
Each day that passes a child is counting on us for the gift of family.
This can only be achieved by working together,
by collaboration, giving what we can to a beautiful global harvest of children thriving in loving families.
I believe each of us has a shovel in our hands. For me, it is my voice. Yours might be a strategic mind to implement policy or finances you can use to further the work.
Whatever shovel you have, use your shovel to show up in the fields for the final goal, a safe family for every child.
Use your shovel by connecting with our partners : 1millionhome.com/take-action and do what you can do to be part of a global harvest of children thriving in safe loving families.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ruth is a care reform advocate and international speaker known for seeking justice for children and youth without parental care. Her advocacy has initiated and influenced child protection changes in East Africa and around the world. Trained in Journalism and Mass Communications, she has experience working for both local and international organizations. Ruth formerly served as a board member with the Kenya Society of Care Leavers and is the Founding Director of Reroot Africa, an initiative tackling orphanage tourism in Africa. Ruth is passionate about faith, justice and identity.