After a six month pursuit to reach a workable compromise between SACRENA’s founder and the youth it aimed to serve, GlobalGiving has decided to remove this organization from the site.
The conflict resolution process (led by two locally-based volunteers from University of Oregon) resulted in the emergence of a new organization (Manyatta Youth Resource Center) that is led by the youth that felt SACRENA was not serving them. This group is shepherded by community leaders, an external board, and mentored by TYSA and Upendo – two GlobalGiving organizations. GlobalGiving encourages you – the SACRENA donors – to support these same youth through Upendo, another local youth sports organization that is continuing the project.
GlobalGiving wants every project on our site to reflect the wishes of the community it serves. In July of 2009, when the beneficiaries started to build a splinter organization, it was clear that much of the Kisumu community withdrew their support from SACRENA in favor of the Manyatta Youth Resource Center, including the high school where the athletes practiced. Therefore, we wanted to reflect this new reality on the ground by removing SACRENA and raising awareness about Upendo, an existing funding alternative. In six months time, if the new organization (MYRC) can pass our due diligence process and has a proven track record of activities, we will invite them to join GlobalGiving.
This is a success story. The work continues to serve people in the community, and now with better leadership.
We summarize the story below, and encourage you to download the complete version as a Word document attached to the update.
Please comment on this update and tell us what you think about this process.
The following outlines pivotal pieces of information in the process of resolving the conflict between SACRENA’s founder and the group of beneficiaries he aimed to serve.
In March, a Global Giving staff member visited the project and encouraged the beneficiaries to provide informal feedback.
In April, two project visitors reported youth being excluded from the decision making process and a lack of transparency in the organization.
In May, youth decided to report their concerns directly via an online feedback form and via email as a group petition.
Later in May, a formal evaluator visited with staff and beneficiaries and reiterated the prior observations of casual observers.
In June, in response to a request from the organization founder for guidance in conflict management, volunteers arrived and held workshops with youth and organization staff.
In July, after several months of dialogue with the organization founder and following a visit to a nearby sports program (TYSA) with an inclusive management style, the youth decided to create a splinter organization. This decision was supported by but not orchestrated by the conflict resolution volunteers.
Two sources tell us that in July, the local school where SACRENA youth practiced asked the founder to leave, citing longstanding broken promises from its founder to invest in grounds upkeep.
Also in July, the founder of SACRENA packed up and left Kisumu. We confirmed with multiple local eyewitnesses that this organization no longer has an office in Kisumu.
In August, GlobalGiving conducted a final survey of beneficiaries and community members. We again asked, “Should this organization be removed from GlobalGiving?” We were able to hear from 34 youth athletes through liaisons who now believe SACRENA should no longer receive funding through GlobalGiving. We will contact 8 of these interested community members (via SMS) for periodic follow-up to confirm that the new organization (MYRC) is making progress.
In August, GlobalGiving also tracked down the SACRENA founder. The founder insists that the organization is still functioning and thanked us for our guidance in helping his organization expand its activities. He did not allude to any of the existing problems, and in fact insisted his Kisumu projects were functioning without interruption.
We now realize the importance of identifying the moment when community support for an organization dissolves. Before July, 2009, the youth who now want GlobalGiving to remove SACRENA had previously asked us to keep working with them. The emergence of better organizations to manage the project (MYRC and Upendo) enabled the youth to withdraw their previous endorsement of SACRENA, this causing GlobalGiving with remove SACRENA from the site.
===== Why are you telling us? =====
This report reflects a dramatic departure from the standard international philanthropy model. Organizations, like governments, exist to serve people, and when the people say they no longer want an organization, we – GlobalGiving – seek ways to accommodate their wishes. As the donors, we want to hear what you think. If you fully support this process, we ask that you also give to Upendo to make it work. Regardless, please comment on this update. What you think affects this organization and the many others with whom we will share this story. Your involvement has already transformed the way this organization dealt with internal conflict. Help us help them continue the work.
Upendo = http://www.globalgiving.com/3759
"In May of this year, I expressed optimism about the further development of SACRENA as a reputable and accountable organization. Since then, we have had two students attempting to work as interns for SACRENA for 8 weeks. The organization has not been able to make the steps we had hoped for and seen as necessary. Based on our experience, we have concluded that the motivation by management to improve transparency and accountability is not there. Without that, it is impossible to measure the effectiveness of its activities nor track the use of donated funds.
"Though the director of the organization claims that it remains operational, the two adult volunteers and most if not all of the orphan boys working with the organization have left in frustration and have devoted their energy to the development of a new community youth organization.
"To sum up, unfortunately I can no longer recommend support for SACRENA as it is currently being managed. I am still in touch with the director and will report on any changes if they come to pass. As things stand now, I hear only words and no action. Without that action, I am not convinced that funds donated are being effectively and usefully managed."
Tim Hicks visited SACRENA and sent the following postcard:
"I visited SACRENA and Wycliffe Mboya for 9 days beginning May 4th, 2009. Main impressions:
1. SACRENA is doing good work helping orphans through the core activity of football (soccer) training and development.
2. SACRENA as an organization must take the next step in its organizational development, creating systems for transparency, accountability, management, etc.
3. Director Wycliffe Mboya understands this need and is ready to take this next step. As with all new organizations, there hardly seems time beyond fulfilling the central mission to take on the organizational development aspects.
4. My Master's degree program will be sending two student interns this summer to work with Wycliffe for 8-10 weeks. Part of their work will be assisting in this organizational development.
5. While I was there, Margaret Oluoch, director of the Smejak Trees Promotion Development Group (STPDG) began arrangements to contract with SACRENA for a three-year period for the SACRENA youth to plant trees and raise seedlings for her organization. As part of the exchange, she will require that SACRENA take its next steps in org development and transparency/accountability. Her organization will be able to provide resources and training to help with this development. She said she would also be able to provide office space and support to our students while they are there. An additional benefit of this relationship is that SACRENA youth involved in the tree planting will be required and given support to continue their education from whatever level they are at.
6. In addition to the org development benefits this relationship with STPDG will have, it will provide the SACRENA youth with a positive role model for civic engagement, helping them see that it is possible to build organizations and make a difference. As SACRENA develops, there will be an educational benefit for the youth in learning how to manage and grow an organization.
7. In addition to its work with orphaned youth, SACRENA is engaged in some work helping AIDS widows. Wycliffe has acquired two sewing machines and is seeking capital that will allow him to purchase additional machines and thread and fabric so that widows can sew school uniforms (for which there is a ready market) and thereby support themselves and their children as well as providing some income for the organization. SACRENA also provides some home care support for widows sick with AIDS.
8. Wycliffe has a number of other projects that will lead to organizational sustainability and income for support of projects. SACRENA has purchased two tuk-tuks that provide some income to the organization. He wants to purchase perhaps 8 computers in order to open a revenue generating internet café that would also double as a computer training lab for the SACRENA youth.
All in all, this is very much a legitimate organization doing good work and worth supporting. Over the next 6 months, I believe it will develop the org management systems that will increase transparency and accountability. I believe that there is tremendous potential for SACRENA to make even more of a difference for orphaned youth, widows, and the community at large."
Director, Masters Degree program in Conflict and Dispute Resolution at the University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, USA.
Dear SACRENA Partners and Donors,
First, thank you so much. When people come to visit SACRENA, we try to be open and don’t tell our youths, orphans or community members what to say. More so we encourage them to tell people/guest who came what they are not happy about. Here in our community people think that we are one of the successful organization. When we receive either positive or negative criticism helps us to build on our weakness. We thank friends and donors who have stood with SACRENA and lives have been improved. In my updates we do say "please came and visit what your dollar is doing"
It is true that at SACRENA youths and orphaned children have had great opportunities for education and training. I believe GlobalGiving donors will give our beneficiaries training and development opportunities in exchange for the sports and education. In our side as SACRENA, we will take next steps in developing a more transparent and accountable organization and that we will provide resources to make that happen through the help of our GlobalGiving donors. I plead with our donors to help us not to leave us.
At every organization, home, government or non profit there may be misunderstanding. In the case of SACRENA we work with 350 youths, 250 widowed women, and 250 orphans these number is big. Considering that you cannot meet every expectation of everybody. There may be delays but some may not be pleased in that comes conflict either of interest or of passion as we know that conflict resolution requires patience and persistence.
We have encourage all our communities and our beneficiaries to open email addresses and join twitter to start going online and talk to people directly though it may take time but it will work so that they connect to donors directly in openness.
It is true with everyone in the world that when negative reports are given to what you do you feel discouraged. This will not play part in me. I will be encouraged and go on.
As human being, imagine am also feeling some pressure and uncomfortableness about the conflicts and stresses within SACRENA and what people we have changed their lives say about their own organization and how to deal with that. It's not easy being in my position. Being the leader is always a challenging position. We all know how difficult it is to make everything happen and all the complaints can be directed at me. It's not that the expectation in an organization should be that the workers complain to the boss and the boss has just to fix it. In English we have the expression that you don't want the tail wagging the dog. It's the dog that must wag the tail. But, there are times when the director has to listen to concerns and problems that the workers in an organization are having and respond and address those issues. The key is to set up an organization in which there is good communication and a feeling of mutual respect I believe there must be a channel and systems in case of SACRENA we depend on our goodwill persons will like you to get us going on with little support to help us pay a contact, office secretary and one youths manager..
From my own experience, and from what all directors and managers say about their work, that it is always the case that we have to learn how to be a good leader of an organization. So that will be true for you also. There can be a tendency to react to this kind of situation with defensiveness. But that just makes things worse. The key is to be open to hearing and learning and at the same time to be sure that everyone is in agreement that the director must continue to be the director and donor relationships be maintained with respect and openness.
All for now. Thank you again for being willing to pass my message along to the donors I think it is important that they get that from me. I think they will feel better if they know that I didn't refuse people to comment negative reports about SACRENA. And I think donors and the guest who visit SACRENA it will be better for me and for the organization that they know I and donors are not ignoring their desire to talk about their experience with the organization, to be heard and acknowledged and more so comment on what they saw and for them then to have a chance to hear from you as well. All this is kind of complicated to talk about adequately just by email but we will do the best we can.
On May 5th, 2009, Leah visited Sacrena as part of a formal evaluation. This is what she saw and what she heard from beneficiaries and community members during her visit:
"We arrived in Kisumu to a warm morning, Wycliff Mboya the director of Sacreena was at the Moi stadium kisumu with a group of youngsters. They were all milling around, some in sports jerseys and boots, other bare footed, others in casual wear, it was about 120 of them. There was a mixture of excitement and confusion, a matatu was hovering around blaring some popular Kenya tunes by nameless ( salary oooooh !! oo!!! , salary oooooh !! oo!! ) this tune is very popular with young people in Kenya, because it talks about joblessness among Kenyan youths. Some of the boys were boarding the matatu while others just hovered around lazily.
After introducing ourselves to Mboya and our purpose for the visit, he insisted that we must talk to the youths, he told us that they were headed for Uganda for a tournament so we should take as little time as possible, however he gathered the boys together we were able to introduce ourselves and our mission. We could clearly see that, this boys besides participating in the football tournament, they had no idea what else Sacreena does, all they knew is that they go to the stadium daily to play football, they hope against hope that when the national clubs are scouting around for younger players they could just be among the lucky ones and that is their happiness.
We talked to Mwangi a 16 year old orphan who dropped out of school in form four due to lack of school fees. We sought his permission to record this discussion on tape, to which he consented.
I quote “my name is Mwangi, I started playing for this project (Sacrena) in 2008, I play full back. I dropped out of school this year due to lack of school fees, I was in form four, I do not have any hope of going back to school since my two elder brothers are unemployed and can not help at all. I come for practice twice a day on a daily basis (morning and evening).
This project keeps me busy and also keeps me away from getting myself into a lot troubles like doing drugs and other antisocial things that many young people get into due to desperation. I don’t even know if I will ever go back to school, the chances are very minimal.”
"Are you aware that the project pays school fees for orphans?" I asked.
The answer was in the negative. All he knew was that the project provided an avenue for him to keep way from unnecessary trouble. It keeps his mental capacities up to date and he hopes that one day somebody will recognize his potential and take him back to school on a sports scholarship are recruit him in the Kenya national league tournament. For Mwangi, this is a hunting ground for opportunities.
We sought to know if he has had any training in peer counseling and he said No. “Our director is very secretive. I wish he could tell us what is happening in the project. We just see a lot of visitors come and go. Then we are assembled here at the stadium to meet the visitors and that is all."
Mwangi continued, "We don’t even go to the office or help out with any work at the office. As much as we have been offered the opportunity to join the team, we also have our own challenges with the club, but we are not given a chance to express ourselves. If you do then you are kicked out of the club. This project can help the youth more, if we can be given some roles to play.”
"Does the director listen to you?" I asked.
"You can’t dare speak, you will be kicked out." However, Mwangi affirms that some of them had travelled to Tanzania for a tournament some time last year.
Leah's Note: In this particular project we are forced not to use Mwangi's real name for fear of victimization of the interviewees. However we have the recorded interviews on tape with the actual names.
Marc Maxson's note:
Leah's report is very illuminating and somewhat disturbing. GlobalGiving is committed to an open process of keeping donors informed about their projects, including negative reports. Leah is an excellent evaluator because her postcard puts Sacrena in the larger context of delivering some good results (keeping kids out of trouble and providing opportunities through sports) while giving voice to the unmet wishes of the youth. Without openness, Sacrena will not improve. Without your involvement, GlobalGiving cannot improve its offerings. An honest and open dialogue allows you - the donors - to see the complexities of development work on the ground.
I URGE you to comment on this report. What should GlobalGiving do next with SACRENA?
What YOU DECIDE will shape our ongoing conversation with Sacrena. If you say nothing, then Wycliffe, their founder, learns nothing about what you expect of him.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
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