For 2016, The Pollination Project is launching 4 new grantmaking hubs which are run by 17 successful grantees. These hubs help us support local leadership, make better grants, and mentor and develop start-up social change projects. Who better to introduce you to our hub members than their team mates?!
In this post, Jimmy Amone interviewed and wrote about the East Africa Hub Team Leader for Kenya, Vincent Atitwa.
The story of the Pollination Project is one that is often best told through the stories of its grantees. This is certainly the case for Kenya, and a good place to start is with the story of Vincent Atitwa.
Born as the 11th child in a family that survived largely on subsistence farming in rural Western Kenya, Vincent grew up with little access to basic needs like food and education, and even suffered from malnutrition throughout his childhood. As a young man, Vincent realized that “for many people in the world, no matter how hard they choose to work, they cannot achieve the same level of security and access to resources.”
Having found the pressing challenges in his community, such as food insecurity, hunger and severe malnutrition, effects of climate change, and issues of public health, Vincent identified business solutions as the best approach for him to tackle these issues. He founded a Community Based Organization (CBO) known as Matungu Community Development Charity (MCDC) that works together with community members. Through his organization, Vincent was able to gain experience and skills in water engineering, finance and entrepreneurship, and now his focus is on community development. Vincent’s intelligence and commitment to solving the country’s problems earned Vincent a government scholarship where he studied and attained an entrepreneurial certificate in business management/economics.
“I’m inspired by former South Africa president Nelson Mandela, when he said that “Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future”
Vincent notes that there are approximately 5,000 poor children & young women in the Western parts of Kenya who do not have access to nutrient rich foods. His work involves training young farmers to grow staple crops that are rich in micro-nutrients. These crops can then be processed into rich porridge flour, maize meal flour and other healthy grains fortified with nutrients that will be easily accessed by and affordable to rural populations. Through his passion for community transformation, Vincent explores the intersection between personal and social life as well as how creative economies can increase their capacity to create a world worth inheriting to their children.
Vincent says: “Since I have [an] understanding of the fundamental challenges in Kenya such as lack . . . of quality education, food, sanitation facilities, entrepreneurial skills and vulnerability to the effects of climate change among others, why not share my best practices, skills, success stories and life experiences with the communities in the Kenyan hub and beyond to help them achieve best out of what they do on daily basis. Although I have worked tirelessly day in and day out to attempt to realize [my] dreams, these achievements have much more to do with the fact that I work with people far smarter than myself, and I stand on the shoulders of giants in non-profit organizations, businesses and even individuals”
Vincent said that working for The Pollination Project has been a dream come true because before this partnership, no groups or organizations gave him a chance to assist in evaluating for them here on the ground. Vincent’s says that “real change makers and entrepreneurs of today do the work when others sit around daydreaming . . . They sacrifice their time and resources, whether it’s working late into the night or getting up early while everyone else is sleeping . . .I am looking forward to the challenges and opportunities of increasing the resilience of poor people, less privileged and marginalized communities in East Africa Hub”.
Well, that’s a life of a change maker, Vincent Atitwa, who is empowered by The Pollination Project to lead the Kenyan hub in mentoring individual and group change makers to see that the world remains a compassionate and just world to all forms of life.