A Healthy Change in Kenge


On our recent trip to Congo, we visited a community called Kenge, halfway between Kikwit and Kinshasa. Like many other communities in this area, the people of Kenge lacked access to adequate health care. The closest hospital was too far away and too expensive, leaving the people vulnerable to diarrhea, malaria, anemia, malnutrition, and respiratory infections.

However, when we arrived in the town, we were greeted warmly by a small group of people from a local church. They had heard that we were coming, so they prepared a little table of peanuts and bananas for us. As we gathered with them under a tree, they told us a beautiful story about how 5N2 was helping to improve health care in Kenge.

Ten months earlier, the group had received 5N2 training from one of our partners. In response to the training, they had recognized their key assets, thanked God for his provision, and begun to envision possible development outcomes. They started with what was in their hands and they simply focused on the most accessible outcomes—what we like to call, the low-hanging fruit.

Their first initiative had been to collect a few Congolese Francs for a church maintenance project of mostly painting, fixing up the instruments and planning a future roof renovation. Then, bolstered by their progress, they were ready for more.

Next, as they surveyed their church family, they noticed that, among a group of mostly subsistence farmers, there were also four men who were trained nurses.

One of those nurses, a man named Seyakuaku, actually had a small collection of medical supplies that he had picked up from previous locations where he had worked. He had stethoscopes and other medical instruments, including a microscope.

Encouraged by these assets, the group in Kenge had then turned to a small hut near their church building that was being used as a guesthouse, which they decided to fix up and turn into a medical clinic.

As we listened to their story, we thought about countless community health clinics in Congo that had started strong with outside help, but quickly fizzled out when the funding faded and they lacked supplies, medicine, and local resources.

It was different in Kenge. Their story told about how a whole community had intervened and together they had established this humble yet functional health clinic. They had a revolving supply of medicine and trained nurses that provided 24-hour care, which enabled them to effectively treat water-borne diseases and other common illnesses. The Kenge clinic even had a small solar panel, wired to a battery, which powered both their microscope and their computer.

As we listened to their story under that tree in Kenge, we were so touched by the passion and vision that we heard within them. They spoke with such a deep sense of community pride. The clinic belonged to them. They had merely started with what was in their hands, offering it with thanks to God and then seeing it multiplied for the good of their community.

As we prepared to leave Kenge that day, the community was telling us that they had already marked out another piece of land where they hope to upgrade the facility. They talked about providing more services and reaching people in neighbouring villages.

And so the fruit of this training continues to grow.                                                                      

Job Posting for ‘5N2’ Program Manager / Administrator

5N2 Network is extending its reach and we need your help. We’re looking to hire a part time Program Manager / Administrator to work with our BIG / LITTLE team of global initiators.

Were BIG, because we’re a network of member organizations from around the world. But we’re also LITTLE, because we are lean and mean with very few staff and a virtual office. We now need a very real person to manage that virtual office. We’re looking for a highly organized and personable go-getter who can interface with our network members from around the globe – tracking with projects, solving problems, evaluating outcomes and generally changing the world one email, skype call, or mouse click at a time.

5N2 is a young organization, but we’re built upon the countless development experiences, learnings (and failings) of our founders, as well as the latest research on sustainable community development. We take a radical approach to tackling poverty, whereby every project begins with materials found within the community itself. The common thread across the network is a shared belief that sustainable outcomes are best achieved when the vision, knowledge, skills and resources come from within. Community Development from the “inside-out”.

Based on who we are, we need someone who shares our passion to see vulnerable communities transformed from the inside-out. Aside from general office management, we would ask you to liaise with 5N2 member groups globally – fielding questions, managing budgets and disbursements, as well as tracking and evaluating program outcomes.As we are a small team, we need a sort of utility knife that can step into different roles now again – working with donors, collecting and collating stories for communications, and whatever other needs arise. Your organization and management skills will help us to streamline and focus on what we do best. More than anything we want this to be a place where your strengths and passions will shine.

Please send resumés to connect@5n2.org

A Traffic Jam Gift

Being stuck in traffic can be so irritating. It’s money, profit and work all being put on hold. For people in developing countries, it’s the difference between having food, medical care and shelter… or not.  

In the bustling city of Kinshasa, John, a welder, and most of his welder friends do their work on the side of a busy road with no property or space to store materials. It’s a difficult business.  They must get their supplies from downtown through thick traffic, day after day. Semis, buses, van shares, motorcycles, cars and pedestrians all weaving their way through streets with no lanes, no rules and barely a traffic light in sight. Something needed to change.

Together with his friends, John devised a plan whereby each welder would take turns retrieving supplies from downtown.  He realized the benefits of working together, and over the years they have established a sense of trust, learning to share some of their expertise and supplies. 

Having heard about an organization that mentored groups like them into a new way of mobilizing, John contacted our partner organization, CRAID, to lead them through 5N2 training.  Buoyed by the inter-dependency already established in the group, the welders were quickly able to identify their shared assets. By recognizing the strengths of each entrepreneur, and the benefits of cost-sharing, they began to envision further possibilities. 

They formed a formal association by developing five clusters, each have their own leader.  As a team, they now can take on a greater scope of work. If a bigger project arose, group members would assemble, do the work together and share the profits. 

As the association grew, a new objective became clear. By opening a shared store-front they could reduce the constant need to bring in small batches of supplies and materials. They would save money through bulk ordering and even have a place to show off their work. Through their shared revenue and association fees, they continue to restock the shelves and expand the business.

The welders are a classic example of how local vision and assets lead to sustainability. As they see the results of their own hard work, there is an upward cycle of empowerment, leading to greater innovation and success.  

At 5N2 we are thrilled to see outcomes like this, where communities “use what they have, to achieve what they have not”. In the coming year we are piloting a new program that recognizes the success and investability of communities like the Kinshasa welders.