By Joni Grace Powers, volunteer facilitator extraordinaire (thank you Joni!)
Over thirty community leaders representing Village Community Banking (VICOBA) collectives around East Africa gathered for a focus group in Kigali, Rwanda this month. Imagine five languages swirling around a room, punctuated by spontaneous celebration! I (the Texan in the room) had everyone shouting “Howdy!” by the first hour.
The days together were lively: juggling translation, papering walls with yards of mural paper and using reams of stickie notes. As facilitator, I dispensed plenty of candy to keep folks going!
The group talked of capturing the imagination of a whole community for positive transformation. Identifying and mobilizing shared resources were identified as critical to new innovation in both commercial and social enterprises. The participants counseled patience, patience, patience as collective members and their communities made the radical shift from a perspective of scarcity in resources to one of plenty.
David Clemy – the guiding shepherd of the VICOBA journey and a changemaker supported by African Road – led with quiet confidence and humility. He emphasized that any dream for a better life must encourage the dreams of others in order to succeed. Clemy’s vision differs from many savings programs in its centering on lasting community transformation.
Katie Garner and Jeremy Stanley joined the group to visually document the process in photographs and on film. I coached the participants as they practiced their on-camera debuts. We have some media stars in the making! Look for new, vibrant images from African Road soon. A big THANK YOU goes to Sheri Reid Grant and the Reid Family Foundation for funding this important work.
On the last evening, folks took to the dance floor to show off their countries’ dance moves. Yes, I danced the Texas two-step to throbbing African beats. What a privilege to join these leaders in a fruitful and fun time together!