So this week I have had some money related issues that got me thinking. Before I lay down the dirty linen of money issues, let me share a few things I came across as I was having this money issues.
Over the last few weeks I have come across a lot of noble charitable organisations and initiatives initiated by Kenyans. The kind of initiatives that are educating or empowering very poor communities, or enabling young girls to get better at one thing or another, or empowering the boy child among others, all really noble initiatives.
However, I noticed that these initiatives did not seem to go past their 4th or 5th year at best before they were dead! This is despite the fact the initial enthusiasm and drive seem to have been there but then down the line the fire seem to have dwindled. So I found this first realization interesting if not weird.
Then, I came across a list of Africans who have greatly impacted the lives of their fellow Africans on the msn website. The information on the Kenyans was very shallow, almost like the writer had struggled to get anything from Kenya but for the sake of being balanced, had thrown in a few Kenyan initiatives. Partly I could tell the shallowness of the Kenyan initiatives was due to the quality of research done on the non- SA and Niger nations. But perhaps, partly also due to what I talked about before, that many Kenyan initiatives die early on.
The money problem
I quickly narrowed to where the problem is, money!
Yes I know there are structural and strategic issues in these initiatives, but believe it or not, money is the bigger fish in this pond.
Last week, I attended a meeting by yet another organisation that implementing programs and working with Kenyans to transform this our land, urging us to be the solution we want to see rather than sitting on bench and complaining. The meeting was great, I was feeling very empowered. Then at the end of this meeting the Exec Director stands and asks us to give money as offerings and they started distributing the bags we have in churches to collect cash.
I sat there and felt very indignified, I was very offended to say the least. I felt like the bubble that had been a great meeting was just being busted in my face!
But with hindsight, where do I think these guys get their funds from? I believe in their vision but for that vision to flourish and not die but year 4, they need some munies!
This got me thinking of the money issues I have had this week. Why do Kenyans struggle with giving? Is it that we have had such bad experiences with our hard earned monies being wasted that we would rather not give?
Maybe, but by all means that’s not the big reason.
The problem is this, we do not giving culture! More of a ‘be given’ culture. More of a ‘I am also a victim’ and therefore cannot give culture. No wonder when anything happens, our first reaction is ‘the government should do this that and the other’. But what about you? What should you do? Just seat pretty and wait for the government?
You see I am convinced that with the rise of the middle class in Kenya (and yes there is a rise, you just need to walk to Nakumatt to realize this) there should be a lot more giving in this nation.
I really believe that it is more blessed to give as the word of God so clearly says. It is in giving that we receive, that is what the Good Book says. I believe that is why some communities in Kenya (especially non-Christian ones) will go out of the way to give be it in eye clinics, huge budgets for donations etc, and as they have given, these communities have thrived. In many ways, it is the reason why the west will always give to the needy Africans, coz as they give they flourish. It is a rule of nature. Even plants have to give to flourish!
Giving is for the rich
A pertinent money issue is that giving in this country is reserved for the supposed rich; no wonder they are the ones who continue to be rich! For the rest of us, we want to invest in a plot of land then another plot then a car then a house the list is endless. I believe investments are good, afterall we all need to be good stewards of God’s money. But these investments must never rob us of our first responsibility, to giving.
Yes I said it, giving has to take priority. Imagine if you gave up Shs 100 of your monthly talk time, or slightly reduced your lunch budget and just gave that to someone else. I know you need the talk time, but believe me there is always someone who needs that She 100 more.
Me and my munies
I started this blog with my money issues. I am at a point where I feel pressured to buy a plot, or save more with some chama; after all it is what we do as Kenyans, lest I am left behind by my peers. But today I made a decision, to give first. That means I need to work double hard, God needs to hook me up with favour. Plots will come, that I have no doubt, with giving I am very indirectly investing in these plots; but they are not as important as my giving. I best find a way of reducing the airtime I use, or fuel or whatever else coz one way or another, all these will be done, but with more priority to giving.
You see in the final end, our lives are finite. When we are gone, the truth is those plots will count for nothing. Read the book of Ecclesiastes and hear the words of Solomon at his end. This man had accumulated wealth, had 1000 wives (imagine that), and was very wise! But at the end he realises just how futile all those were, in fact he specifically says you can accumulate all these wealth then pass on and not even be sure how those you leave this wealth will utilize it. In the end he says the most important things are those that
I recently did my budget for the next 4 months (m frugal like that, or too broke not to)! And the best I could afford to give in between my many plans was a tithe. Budget change here I come!
So perhaps it is time we changed this tide, received blessing for selves by giving. Perhaps if we were giving more to all these noble initiatives, we would have a more grounded society. Perhaps this is why the government is now chasing after public and private sector partnerships, the realization that our society will only improve if we all play our role and not just look at the government.
Imagine with me, you and I taking a girl through secondary school, a girl who otherwise would have just stayed at home, giving them a chance they never would have. Imagine you and me giving a prisoner a chance to better themselves, rather than get out of prison one day and back within five days coz if anything they are hardened. Imagine with me, you and I contributing towards the setup of a micro finance that supports businesses in Kibra. Imagine you and me contributing to programs that educate us on the kind of leaders we must elect. Imagine with me you and me contributing towards the education of some of the poorest families in Kenya some entrepreneurial skills. Imagine you and me playing a part in the betterment of our society, however small!
You have no idea the kind of social change we would witness in this nation. Give!
I also want to challenge charities and founders of these many initiatives.
- Put in place measures that will ensure you are above board. Keep books of account, publish your financials, have Boards to direct your affairs. Give us some comfort that our monies re not fattening someone’s pocket coz that money is hard earned and could be in a land plot somewhere.
- Challenge us to give more. Be creative. Get ways of engaging us that re not just stretching your hands or hounding us. Involve us.
So this is to giving! To being involved!