Haiti Community Foundation Initiative learns from Kenya

“My visit to Kenya also made a difference for me in how I feel as a person. I felt so connected; our human experience and roots being so similar, we could identify to all the issues at stake. I was also inspired by the refreshing level of humanity and strength of many of the people we met. In a world in which trends are often governed by superficial matters, we need such contacts in our fight for the prevalence of equity en justice. Being in Kenya was like being continuously watered in fountain of inspirational individual and collective stories.”  Caroline Hudicourt, HCFI Steering Committee Member

Hosted by the Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCFD), a team of Haiti Community Foundation Initiative (HCFI)’s Committee Members visited Kenya from July 10th to July 20th 2013.  Thanks to joint support of the Inter-American Foundation (IAF) and the Global Fund for Community Foundations (GFCF), HCFI’s team conducted an intensive visit in Kenya with KCDF whose organizational structure and community-driven approach it sought to learn from through the field study.

Visiting the offices of Makutano Community Development Association

“Why Kenya?” Said Marie-Rose Romain Murphy, Director of ESPWA, the facilitating organization for HCFI: “In terms of development context and culture, Haiti is more aligned with Africa than it is with Latin America…  Also,  fifteen years ago when they started, KCDF had to deal with the same type of environment that we face in Haiti (a history of social division, an unhealthy dependency on international aid, high levels of poverty, communities marginalized from their development process, little/ no history of institutionalized philanthropy).  They built an indigenous institution which adopted values and a structure similar to what we are looking at.  Last year, at HCFI’s Karibe Planning Forum in Haiti, when the resource group of CF leaders from Mexico, Brazil and from Kenya talked about their history, mission et all, people were at the edge of their seats when it came to Janet Mawiyoo (KCDF’s CEO)’s presentation.  It was uncannily applicable to Haiti’s situation.  We needed to learn from people who have “walked in our shoes”.

The five-member team went through a comprehensive learning process of KCDF’s structure, history and operations as they met with the foundation’s staff, board, trustees and grantees.  Field visits with two KCDF partner grantees, the Regional Institute for Social Enterprise (RISE) and the Mankutano Community Development Association (MCDA) coupled with day-long events such as KCDF’s Community Day (a networking event for community partners) and the Fund Builders Forum (bringing together the various funds for reporting, planning and training) gave the Haiti Team an in-depth experience of the construct and long-term impact of a community foundation. 

At the end of August, the HCFI Team will circle back and make a presentation to the Pilot Programme Committee whose fourteen members are anxious to hear about how lessons learned from the Kenya visit and KCDF’s experience will help to set up a strong and effective institutional community foundation for Haiti.

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