George Otiu-Kidenda, Kenya Country Director, talks about Build Africa's work there:
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is the opportunity to interact with and work with young people, communities, the government and other partners; to identify issues afflicting young people and together to find lasting solutions to these problems. Together we can help the move towards the alleviation of poverty, not just amongst the youth, but in the country as a whole.
Why did you choose to work for Build Africa?
Up till now I have only had the opportunity to work for the big nongovernmental organisations (NGOs). Build Africa is not a large NGO. It is an organization that is still being built. I love to build. Build Africa offers me the opportunity to engage with the youth, their communities, government and others at levels that I would not be able to in larger organizations. Build Africa allows me and my colleagues to define the ground on which we stand based on real issues affecting young people in Kenya today. The organisation allows me to really listen to the people living in and suffering from poverty and allows us the space to try various ways to try and solve our problems - Build Africa allows me to work differently.
Where did you work before?
I started my career in the Government of Kenya's Ministry of Culture and Social Services, where I first worked with the young in 1978. Following this I joined the Norwegian Cooperation Development Agency (NORAD), where I worked for four years before joining CARE Kenya for six years, where I worked with young people in matters related to HIV transmission. I left CARE and joined Plan Kenya, where I worked as the Programme Director for four years, before joining Build Africa.
What inspires you to get up in the morning?
I am inspired by the fact that I belong to a family committed to poverty alleviation amongst the youth in Kenya. This family does not just consist of the internal Build Africa family but of the extended families of young people and their communities as well. I do not work for nor do I assist communities. Rather I work with young people and their communities. I am inspired by their enthusiasm to find lasting solutions: I am just the facilitator. That the youth and communities value my contribution to their development journey is as inspiring as the fact that I am able to contribute at the level which I do.
What do you see as the main challenges facing Kenya?
In Kenya, the high incidence of poverty and pervasive unemployment, especially amongst the youth, must be seen to rank amongst the main challenges facing the country.
Can Build Africa really make a difference and how?
Build Africa can make a great difference. However, development is a slow process. Build Africa's approach of community development within the education and economic sectors gives the communities the confidence to succeed - it helps them work their way out of the terrible cycle of poverty.
Are there any projects you feel are particularly successful and that you feel proud of?
The education project: throughout the world, those countries that have developed are those that have provided quality education to their youth. Build Africa addresses issues afflicting education in the country with the aim of ensuring a quality education for all young people.