Whoa, we are here!! Crazy.

Stephanie, myself, and our two evaluators, Sarah and Crystal, strolled into the Nuru house a one week ago yesterday. Our schedule has been absolutely full since then. Stephanie organized and is in charge of the evaluation, Sarah and Crystal are doing all the data gathering. I’m supervising. You know how that is. Supervising.

We have been pretty much burning the candle at both ends since we showed up, which is necessary to ensure that Sarah and Crystal can gather the data they need to use our extensive metrics system. For the first couple of days, Sarah and Crystal met with education representatives at schools and in other spots around town. Then they trained a group of already skilled locals to conduct interviews at homes in the community. Now they are trekking around the countryside with their interviewers gathering data. Data…precious precious data. We are SO excited to get it, see it, and use it to objectively see how far this community has come in one year.

And now for something completely different:

Two guests this week for my post! One in the form of a link to another blog. Please check out Sarah’s blog about her work. It’s fun, informative and touching.

And below, the first feature piece by our Senior Research Officer, Stephanie Jayne. Stephanie is very experienced in African development work, so her impression of Nuru’s work here on the ground is quite profound. Stephanie, take it away, sister:

Super Evaluations and Data

I am here. Finally. And it feels great to be “home.” I have missed the joy, spirit, and tenacity of the people of rural Africa.

When I first heard about Nuru International, I immediately checked out the website, read the business plan front to back, and was downright thrilled by what I read. But also wary.

Could this be real? Could this be the end of extreme poverty? Could the people of Kuria really lift themselves out of extreme poverty? I hoped so, but I wondered…

The Nuru concept is simple yet complex. Obvious in many ways, yet very different from most other international development that I have seen. You know the deal, “development” projects that do little to develop anyone or anything in the long term; short fixes; non-sustainable handouts, foreign experts…. To be fair, I have seen some really good development as well, but usually on a small local scale with no plans or strategy to expand the work.

I am here now at the Nuru project site, and I am no longer wary. I have seen it with my own eyes and I have felt it through the spirit of local leaders and Kurian community members. After being here only a few days, I truly believe that the Nuru philosophy and model can work.

In a meeting, I smiled brightly (more on the inside than out) as I listened to one of the Nuru volunteers describe the work of Nuru over the past year and then conclude, “we, the people of Kenya, we are Nuru.” These few words sent a powerful message of community leadership – and made me think that this might really work.

The same day, I sat under a large shade tree on a hill and watched 220 farmers graduate as Nuru members. Only one year into the work, and the model is being scaled by Nuru Kenyan staff, to neighboring communities. Again the Kenyans were in charge. They were changing their own destiny, far beyond the boundaries of their own homes and families.

One year into the 5 year Nuru plan, change has already started to take hold in Kuria. I have seen it with my own eyes. Naturally a skeptic, I must admit that I am now a 100% Nuru believer. I believed in the theory when I first read the business plan. Now I believe in the action.

Be hope. Be light. Be Nuru.