Like others places and organizations around the world, the routines and activities in Samburu and SYEF resemble pre-Covid times more than they have at any point since March 2020. By the end of 2022, the academic calendar will be back to normal in Kenya, our leadership and life skills trainings will be back in-person during school breaks, students will be working collaboratively on community service initiatives throughout the year, and we will have a graduation celebration again!
What have we learned in the past two years? A lot.
We learned that SYEF has the standing and credibility in its community to do more than just participate in community-level initiatives; we can lead and coordinate those initiatives. In the early months of Covid, we shifted quickly to supporting families and vulnerable people with basic needs, Covid supplies, and information. People looked to SYEF as a resource for Covid-related questions and support.
We learned that our Samburu-based staff and board of advisors can balance decisiveness, empathy, and strategic thinking simultaneously. They demonstrated tremendous adaptability to shift the organization’s activities and focus to changing circumstances.
We learned that there remains a lot of porosity in the various support systems to help vulnerable people in Samburu. SYEF’s primary mission isn’t directly related to basic needs, but we focused on basic needs while schools were closed for 10 months and people were struggling, and there was far more demand for our support than we could provide.
We take these lessons learned into an improved understanding of who we are as an organization and how we go about our work. While much of 2022 will more closely resemble what life felt like for SYEF before Covid, we go about that work now with a deeper value for adaptability, empathy, and our importance to the Samburu community.