Kenya – Mentorship for project partners



Kenya – Mentorship of project partners

‘A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.’

  • Assisting our local as well as international project partners through each project phase – planning, implementation, and sustainability – with focus on communication, problem solving and building relationships
  • Supporting our partners through their personal transformation as well as through the changes, new demands and challenges, and increased responsibilities in their roles as leaders in the community
  • Program oversight and guidance with annual trips to the community for project assessment and accountability

Working with project partners locally as well as internationally has always been an essential part of my work, when possible directly together in the projects but often also over the distance, especially in the past years. Building relationships with them, communicating and understanding our vision, needs, circumstances, challenges as well as solutions, learning from each other and mediating between the different worlds has very much been the focus of my work.

For the longest time I was mainly involved in the planning and managing of projects although I have always had a very strong focus on our local partners being more independent in running and managing their own projects. In the beginning I was more focused on how to help them successfully implement the projects and to support them in learning the necessary project management skills. But then I realised that it is not just about the project results but that it really is about our partners and their personal development. It has become not only about how I could help them develop the skills they need to responsibly and sustainably run a project but also about teaching them mindset and social skills that help them on their individual journey and development as leaders.

With many of them we started working when they were at a stage very much at the beginning but where they have already shown a great commitment towards wanting to achieve positive change for their community. May that be through them being engaged in already existing projects or because they have started with some ideas themselves and have successfully achieved change within their often still limited circumstances. So in the beginning many have very little experience in running projects, may even come from backgrounds with very little education, but who have experienced many of those problems they now fight against first hand. What makes them so valuable is their absolute conviction, commitment and drive in wanting to make a difference. Once they then start to receive support they often grow very fast in their roles, with the projects they are doing or that they are involved in, and within their community. That then comes with more responsibility, expectations, accountability, and communication both locally but also with their international partners. And I realised that it is often expected of them to naturally develop the skills required for that. But it is a very complex transformation they are going through and it can’t just be expected of them to understand and navigate the changes, the requirements and dynamics purely based on their good intentions and willingness to show up. So I started to support them specifically in developing skills that will help them with the management of their projects as well as their relationships with project partners. A crucial part for that is to first understand their own situation, circumstances and the behaviours and beliefs of their own people better and how to consider that in their vision, planning and eventually the running of their projects. To then also communicate their understanding, their experience and solutions to their international partners. And at the same time I help them understand the intentions, backgrounds, opportunities but also the limitations and requirements of their partners.

I do the same in my support for our international partners, whose previous motivation and intentions for their involvement in projects was often very one directional and led by the old belief that “we need to help the poor and underprivileged” which was often done by “purely giving”/donating, providing solutions and running the projects themselves. So I help them to understand their motivation and how to create a joint vision that promotes how we can equally grow and benefit from working together. That includes me mediating between the different worlds to understand each other’s backgrounds, cultures, behaviours and beliefs better, to manage expectations and support better communication and relationships.

Another focus in my mentorship has become the personal support of our local project partners as I recognise that each of them are on their personal journeys of change. Becoming successful in their work, being connected with international partners, gaining influence in their community, and having more responsibility in their projects often was seen as them doing great and experiencing a positive personal development. But it wouldn’t recognise that such growth still needs support as it can be overwhelming and comes with many challenges when suddenly dealing with so much more responsibilities and influence. I help them reflect on their experiences and how to stay connected to their vision and values, how to navigate expectations and conflict and how to find and protect their own authenticity and integrity.