We don't provide the solutions.
We help the community create their own.
We believe that permanent solutions are best arrived at when the community takes responsibility for solving their challenges by creating their own solutions, using the resources they have on hand. VCI equips communities and their leaders with principles and practices that empower vulnerable populations to thrive.
The results have been amazing.
SINCE ITS CREATION IN 2005
VIABLE COMMUNITY INITIATIVES HAS GROWN TO INCLUDE
Insuring that the most vulnerable members of their communities have good food, clothing, and a safe place to live
Difficult Problem. Simple Solution.
Viable Community Initiatives began with a simple gathering called OPOS (Outcomes, Practices and Open Space).
OPOS Is a three-part community discussion that can last from a few hours to a few days. OPOS is not a seminar or training, it is a discussion managed by VCI facilitators, who guide community members through a series of topics. Every member of the local community is welcome to attend and guaranteed the chance to participate.
From Africa to the rest of the World . . .
■Viable Community Initiatives (VCI) vciniatives.org
#A Personal Testimony
I grew up seeing my parents toil all day to make ends meet. My father was a peasant farmer, and this was serious business for him. He was also a carpenter which was where all of us as his children became carpenters. He was trained by missionaries. At that time, the type of carpentry you find in a remote village like ours was typical, the making of benches or stools or tables for the weekly village market days or some shelves (kanta) for newlyweds used in the shelving of plates and kitchen paraphernalia. There was also the roofing of mud houses, usually without ceilings with corrugated zinc sheets as windows and doors. The carpentry business is still what is typically found in every regular village even though things have improved significantly. My father never attended any conventional school but attended an elementary Bible school where he was able to write and read in Hausa which made him the village church planter and missionary.
My mum never had any formal education, but she learned literacy in a Church initiated program. At some point, she could read but lost that as she grew older. I remember her favourite verse, Hebrews 2:3. My mum engaged in an on-and-off business. We were usually the sales boys for her. She fried cassava cakes (Kosain rogo) and "masa" but later, she became known as Kaka Mai Shinkafa (grandma who sells rice), which was the name her grandchildren gave her.
We grew up seeing these two work tirelessly to take care of us. At the village level, they were the best. Again, because my father was a hunter and loved meat, it was only in our house that you will more often than not see "red soup", what is referred to in village parlance as "dege dege. He was also a builder - a local building engineer if you like. These vocations earned him a good reputation and some fluidity of cash. People will always come to borrow money from him. He was senselessly generous with our mum being more of the prudent spender. Most times, our dad won't even tell our mum the people he was lending money to because she will ensure those she knew wouldn't pay were not given. Unfortunately, some of these people were just using him, but he wouldn't just falter.
Our parents sired 8 of us. Though they were village champions, the weight of taking care of us, and especially, educating us, was a huge pressure for them.
We lived, for most of our formative lives, in round huts with thatched roofs sleeping on mud beds with corn-stalk mats called "baka zuwa Hausa". We never enjoyed mattresses until much later in life. As an extra vocation, in a bid to sustain life, we hunted rats, hedgehogs, rabbits, squirrels, scrabs, and every other scurrying or legged animal. We also scouted for fruits in the bush ("kadanya, Dinya, hwaru, magarya, goriba, tuwon biri, doruwa") and all sorts of wild fruits.
In my early secondary school days, I scavenged food from refuse dumps in Tudun Wadan Gusau partly because of childhood neglect. Clothing was rare, but looking back, we thought we were doing well.
Our mum and dad were workaholics. To this day, I wonder where they got the strength to do all that they were able to do. I can tell you that "if hard work was an inevitable path to being wealthy, my parents would have been millionaires. These guys worked to exhaustion in a bid to put food on the table for us, which was the highest form of aspiration for them, but of course, for every local folk. They both died without experiencing much of our contributions to their lives because we were still struggling when they died, especially our mum.
During those years, I saw my parents succumb to cultural norms that further entrenched their already mangled supplies. If you didn't grow up in a poor home, you have no idea how poverty can entrap its victims. The ropes of poverty, sad to say, are bound by the poor themselves. The poor are surrounded by stories and practices that further entrench and deepen their misery through a thick lens of disempowering cultural values leading to the deadness of the mind and the feeling of permanent hopelessness.
For the poor, the path to freedom is not for them, but for others - it's a hopeless feeling that mutates to strong-held beliefs. For most poor folks, it's even a calling. Poverty leaves no room for thinking straight or for self-evaluation or even a desire for emancipation.
My conquest away from poverty stems from my hate for manual work, specifically farming. I didn't have a problem with carpentry. The need to go to school was for me more of an escape than a desire to get some education. Success in academics was, for me, not a goal for any excellence as we know it but an escape route from being sent to the farm, which I hated with all passion.
Later, as I grew up in life, I was confronted by deep-seated cultural practices, which affected my quest and speed for success. For the record, your first enemy to progress is the indices of your culture that do not allow you to grow, which keep you in a limbo of activities that usurp your progress in life.
In between being born and dying, there lies a vast resource of choices that will either develop, entangle, or envelope us. Our cultures, rooted in opaque worldviews, give no room for valid choices that enhance life in the material world. Change, even positive change, is considered either taboo or unattainable. Except you break free or even, people who shift their gear against cultural entrapments for far-reaching goals are either considered cultural traitors or deviants. They are held in admiration afterwards, but even then, the nerve to join doesn't just exist.
I came from this backdrop of cultural values, not necessarily from my immediate parents or family (because I dare to say they were fairly liberal), but basically from the whims and caprices of societal expectations, culturally patterned behaviours, and peer pressure. Thankfully, I broke free from all of these, and today, I am a free man. While I can't imagine coming from any culture or tribe other than the one I was born in, I consider it only a passage into this world. I am thankful for the positive influences of my culture, many of which I still enjoy today. Every culture has positive elements. My culture has replete. I adore, cherish, and uphold them, but I have broken free from the negative dictates of my culture and have cultivated informed choices imbued with practices toward freedom for myself and my family.
It is this journey I am billed for. To share my life experiences but also to help others see that they too, can be free. The platform of Viable Community Initiatives offers a robust platform for total Outcomes for Life for individuals, families, and communities because life choices are very powerful. When the right choices are made, combined with the understanding and use of time, the result can be dramatic and positive.
This past week, I took some time with my team to work on our indicators for Outcomes and Practices with the view to realigning our community Development Initiative to produce viable results.
The new journey has just begun, and we are excited that the entire landscape of Africa is within our reach. The history of entanglement from a network of relationships and practices that do not work for our well-being sets the stage for attaining a transformed and informed society. We are tired of being impoverished. Viable Community Initiatives aims to shatter conformity and spark transformation and we are poised to do so unashamedly with all the grace that God has given us. Romans 12:2
We will spread this message to every country of the world, beginning from Africa with the view to changing the soiled history of our narrative.
vciniatives.org ... See MoreSee Less
VCI-BENIN REPUBLIC UPDATE!
GNASSORONGA is one Community that benefited from VCI training via OPOS in the past.
As part of our evaluation activity to ascertain the progress and viability of OPOS as initiated by the community, VCI team Benin visited the community today.
We were bewildered by the kind of farming and agro-related initiatives that the community embarked on as a result of OPOS to boost their economic security and ensure food security too. They testified that the OPOS training has helped them to adopt innovative ways to improve their farming skills and processes that can ensure a good yield and also reduce post-harvest losses.
This for us at VCI was quite remarkable and commendable to see that our efforts are already yielding the much-desired results towards emancipating this Community from the shackles of lack, poverty and diseases.
We encouraged them to keep it up and continue to thrive to sustain this determination and also do the same for other key areas of education, health and sanitation to ensure a holistic transformation their families and community.
Shatter Conformity, Spark Transformation! vcinitiatives.org ... See MoreSee Less
There is no better way to solve African problems in African communities than leading the people to solve their problems themselves. It was yet another moment with parents of grade three in Jos School. The following problems were raised, deliberated upon, debated, discussed, and way forward was given by parents.
It was interesting how the hall was filled with life as parents engaged in a meaningful discussion. No one was in a hurry as since they owned the idea.
It is important to note parents like the school and services offered. As a matter of fact after the meeting we admitted seven new pupils as the parents left and advertised the school.
Keep an eye here next week we are having four more meetings with the parents before we move to a community 258 kilometers from Nairobi. vcinitiatives.org ... See MoreSee Less