Okay, but do I really want a rabbit business?

We passed through Macedonia on our way to a village area about 30 minutes north of Kisumu in Kenya. Well okay it wasn’t ‘that’ Macedonia, but it was an inn by that name where above the registration desk hung this passage:

I will visit you after passing through Macedonia, for I intend to pass through Macedonia and perhaps I will stay with you or even stay the winter, so that you may help me on my journey, wherever I go. (1 Cor 16:5,6)

We flew into Kisumu International Airport, a beautiful new airport about the size of Abbotsford’s airport. To our observation there are no international flights landing here yet but they hope to attract these soon.

Kisumu is a different city from Nairobi. It is beautifully located on Lake Victoria and when you look out onto the water it might well have been an ocean. It is the third largest fresh water lake in the world – just after Lake Superior and Lakes Huron/Michigan in size. This gives Kisumu an ocean side feel to it in an African kind of way. In population, Kisumu at between 350 and 500 thousand is much smaller than Nairobi where they cannot really tell you how many people live there. It is somewhere between four and seven million.

In January of this year I was in Uganda and landed at the airport in Entebbe, also located right on the shores of this great lake. It too had a similar feel to it as a city.

We drove the next morning to Muhanda in a rural village area of this very pretty part of western Kenya. The drive there began to give signs of the poverty among the people and community. Petra and Ruth Anaya from Langley started a small NGO to help address needs in this specific community. It is the community where Petra grew up and it was actually his twin brother Andrew who drove us to see their work. The ministry is called HODI (Hands On Development Initiatives) and they take special effort to ensure that the community is involved with decisions about development in their area.

Everyone we met in the community were also excited about a group of students from Trinity Western University that were about to arrive the following week. So they were feeling blessed by Canadians!

HODI has a stellar example of community based ministry projects in a creative water distribution system where clean water is pumped from an underground stream source to a holding container on the highest point around. From there, gravity takes its course and water flows to schools and houses or near houses throughout an eight square kilometer area.

The water is pumped using electricity so there are some costs to this. The community formed a cooperative where members pay a monthly fee to cover costs and to help build a fund for repairs to the infrastructure.

I had a chance to look over the books and noticed two things. First, there are many people who cannot afford to pay anything, however their water is not cut off – it is simply recorded that they have an unpaid amount. Secondly, even with unpaid balances on the books the water distribution center made money each month. It is a very good example of a sustainable project HODI has undertaken.

We also visited the Mawazo Child Care Centre where HODI have 150 children attending. It is a facility that helps to prepare children for further public schooling. The commitment of the staff and the level of competency was impressive. I personally struggle with children performing for visitors but at the same time realize that it is something for them to have visitors from Canada come to their little centre. The children themselves were great and the singing beautiful.

Then came a little ‘African side trip’ when we drove twenty minutes to attend a meeting of the members of a newly forming business. It was in the village next to Muhanda in a different county or region. We found out that this was only the third time that these folks had met, but they were prepared for us. There was an awkwardness in the air as I felt we were in essence being pitched on the idea of investing in their rabbit business idea.

The chair of the cooperative read to us from the briefing they had put together describing how it was going to work. He placed special emphasis on the fact that rabbit is a white meat and that people are moving away from red meat. Their projections were enthusiastic and so were they.

It is always difficult for people in the developed world visiting in the developing world to understand how important it is not to ‘promise’ anything in meetings. The people here have so much need they cling to words from you long after you will have forgotten. So Bob and I were very careful in choosing my words. I didn’t want to say anything without my lawyer present. Heh, wait a minute! He was present J

Now back at the childcare centre. We were shown new construction taking place of a farming building that was to have a rabbit hutch built into the top of it. Hmmm rabbits coming up twice but I certainly am not able to connect the dots. The rabbit meeting had thrown me off track.

While at the Centre we heard, and saw, children who had not eaten that day. Sometimes the children go two days without anything to eat from home and the Centre is their source of nourishment. Now I didn’t hear anything from the community rabbit group about giving some of the rabbits away to help families feed their children – but maybe that is for later.

So how did it end?

Well we rolled with it and politely took their copy of a  printed rabbit business proposal.

Lion Like Leadership

A highlight memory in my life was recently watching a pride of lions hunt in Kenya on the Serengeti plains. Here are some leadership points I took away from the experience.

Leaders are hard to find

The pride was carefully concealed in the grass. Although these lions are large creatures, they usually kept their heads beneath the level of the tall grass. You had to look very carefully and get up closer to really notice what was taking place.

Lion Insight: This is true of leaders. You need to get close enough to them to really see their leadership at work.

Identify the target

One of the pride raised her head high above the grass and spotted a single Hartebeest on the horizon more than a kilometer away. Once identified, she never took her eyes off the prey and somehow signaled to the entire pride to do the same.

Lion Insight: Leaders are the ones who can look out to the horizon and determine where the entire group should be headed. They also have a way of communicating this so all eyes are on the goal.

Spread out and gain perspective

With a military like precision, the pride began to spread out across the plain, each one staring intently at the goal. By doing so they were increasing their ability to judge the direction and potential action of the prey. It also positioned them in such a way that no matter what took place, some member of the pride may be in a place to have success. This was a team effort.

Lion Insight: Leaders are always helped by getting more perspective on a situation. Allowing your team to be among your feedback group gives an even greater potential of achieving your goals.

Be patient

The pride began to move toward their goal slowly, quietly with stealth. They were not in a rush, as they knew that would be futile when they have to cover so much territory to get close to achieving their goal.

Lion Insight: Leaders need to have the discipline to patiently work towards their goals. One step at a time will get you there. If you rush, you may loose entirely.

Ignore the distractions

We were in a four-wheel drive right amidst the pride, in fact they walked around us while hunting without even giving an acknowledgement of our presence.

Lion Insight: There are so many things that can capture a leaders attention, but if we are going to reach the goal we must learn to ignore distractions and keep moving forward.

Outside influences can affect the plan

As the pride were moving towards the Hartebeest another Land Cruiser came across the plain towards the lions so that their customers could catch a glimpse of one of the Big Five. In doing so, he attracted the attention of the Hartebeest who then quickly took off in the opposite direction foiling the hunt.

Lion Insight: There will always be the outside influences that can impact your plans. Leaders need to realize this and get over it quickly.

Be quick to regroup

As soon as the pride realized their dinner was now far from a reality they quickly moved back together and began the task of identifying a new target

Lion Insight: Leaders should be quick to call the team together again when there is a need to regroup and set a new goal.

We have an example

There is another lion from whom we can glean leadership principles. Revelation 5:5 refers the Lion of Judah, one of the names ascribed to Jesus.

Lion Insight: Following the Lion of Judah can be a guide for life providing leadership insight and life in all its fullness.

PS – I might add one more to this list and that is that it was the women doing all the work!