‘Practice what you preach’ is a common saying and is surely applicable when it comes to trustbuilding. With our Trustbuilding Program project teams working within their communities on restoring trust, it is important that they work on the trust within their own team as well. With this in mind, the Initiatives of Change team in Kenya organized a team retreat for the trustbuilders in their network.
The two-day national retreat was held mid-November in Nakuru, Kenya, and brought together 22 active Initiatives of Change (IofC) members from across the country. IofC Kenya has a culture of national retreats and organizes them two to three times a year, often using the opportunity to elect their board while members are present. However, this recent gathering stood out from previous retreats since it focused more on the Trustbuilding Program, and how to build the capacity of the national team. It was the perfect moment to bring the members of the team closer together.
Considering the external goals of the Trustbuilding Program are visible through our online networks, the team felt it that it is critical to show that internal goals are being treated with equal importance. This retreat was a chance demonstrate and work on the goals below:
Enhance the work of the national team
During the retreat there was an emphasis on the steps that need to be taken in order to bring IofC Kenya to the next level. It was very important for people to understand that a shift must be made from being a ‘loose’ organization to one with more structure. IofC Kenya has been trying to become a nationally well-known organization for some years now and sees the Trustbuilding Program as a great opportunity to help them realize this aspiration. The Trustbuilding Program challenges not only the project team, but also the national team, to becoming a more professionally organized organization with a clearer structure and people taking more responsibility for their tasks. This is still a challenge, especially since many people work for IofC Kenya on a voluntary basis.
Strengthen fellowship/ internal connections
There has been a lot of deep sharing around the themes of well-fare and fellowship. Do we take care of each other enough? For example: someone lost a relative and did not feel like he received enough support from the team. This led to a lot of conversations about how strong the team is, and how connected everyone is. Although IofC Kenya has organizational structures in place, all members of the national are busy and don’t live in the same town, which makes it hard to connect. If people wait for retreats to connect with each other in person, they might only see each other once or twice a year. Going forward, members of the Kenyan IofC network will organize more fellowships within their own regions, so that the team can stay closely connected. In order to build trust within the national team, during the retreat Mike Muikia and Dan Mugera led the team through activities that encourage teamwork and facilitation.
Capacity building, which means having the people within the project develop their different skills, like facilitating, is an important aspect of the Trustbuilding Program. This is critical in order to have more people within the local teams being capable of doing deep trustbuilding work, to monitor and facilitate trustbuilding sessions. This topic spurred emotional conversations, since some of the people selected to be trained as trustbuilders do not yet have the necessary level of facilitation skills to conduct outreach activities. The team had to have an honest conversation and is currently looking into ways of accommodating the wider IofC Kenyan team in a different way. This is an example of how important trust is. Trust internally, between the team and other members, is key to achieving the project's outcomes.
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The Trustbuilding Program is aimed at addressing divisive issues at the international and national levels, on the premise that only those who have undergone the internal process of becoming trustworthy themselves can close gaps across the globe. The Program was launched by Initiatives of Change International in 2019 with projects in Kenya, Canada and France.