The band T-shirt would read Krakow, Nairobi, Bujumbura, and Mae Sot. Not your usual stadium tour, quite the opposite. In all these locations we connected with small groups of passionate change makers.
In Krakow, we were training around 16 people from our partners Serve The City. They were from cities all over Europe, exploring how to go deeper in the communities they work. This group of committed leaders wants to see community-led transformation become a core part of their movement. This will mean that some of the most vulnerable and underserved communities in Europe will realise the potential they have to shape their future and that they have the resources to see it happen.
Nairobi was the next stop on the tour. It was so good to be back in an African country. Before COVID I had the privilege of spending time in Africa every six months. This was my first trip since borders opened. Another first was the Create Conference, a partnership between World Evangelical AllianceBusiness Coalition, CBBC, and the Informal Settlements and Cities Consortium. About 15 – 20 of us gathered for four days to talk about how community development and business could work together towards the creation of flourishing communities. We had friends from Pakistan, Germany, Australia, Zambia, Burundi,South Africa, and Kenya in the conversation. You can read the full report here. We are now working on plans for the next gathering expected to be in Zambia in September 2023, as well as a fund to resource the nexus between community development and business in communities throughout the world. Connected to this, we will be researching existing models of business and community development harmonising in communities around the world.
Nairobi was also the host of a Flourishing Pathways course. Around 15 NGO and community leaders gathered for three days to learn, share, and dream together about what is possible in their communities. The course included topics such as the Flourishing Framework®, how to uncover the strengths and resources in the community, and how to navigate systemic and complex issues that block people’s ability to flourish. The group is staying connected onWhatsApp, and we are exploring the creation of a joint project.
As a result of Create and the Flourishing Pathways training, we are working on a potentially ground-breaking project that would see an extended version of the flourishing pathways training offered initially in two colleges in Kenya. We believe that by training young people in these skills they will go on to be instrumental in bringing community change.
The third stop on the tour was Bujumbura in Burundi - 4th lowest on the Human Development Index; one of the poorest countries economically. Working with our partners was such an honour. I was able to tour of some of their work, which included an overnight trip to rural Burundi. We are currently co-designing a project that will see us working with Gatumba, a flood-affected informal settlement on the outskirts of Bujumbura. Influenced by CBBC, they have already begun community conversations which have resulted in the discovery of some incredible community leaders and resources. I got to meet with a group of them including environmental activists, teachers, and business leaders. We will be supporting this group of leaders to unearth other resources within the community. Very excited to see what the future holds for this slum that most of the world doesn’t know about and would have written off if they did. I also had the honour of running a crash course in Flourishing Pathways for a group of 30 community leaders.
The training and support we have been able to offer in places like Bujumbura and Nairobi is made possible by financial support from people like yourself. Please consider contributing towards this work by joining the FBBC Giving Community or making a donation. Gifts of $2 or more made to the Foundation for Building Better Community are tax deductible.
The final stop on the tour was Mae Sot on the Thai-Burma border. I had the privilege of joining Ash Barker and others from Seedbeds to run a 10-day training course in social enterprise and community development. Our participants were Burmese activists who are fighting for democracy for Myanmar. It was such an honour to play a small part in shaping the thinking of these incredible leaders who will shape the country’s future.
Thank you so much for your support in making this trip happen. So much more can be achieved in person than over video calls. If you are interested in hearing more about any of these projects, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.