Report: “Overseas Internships” in Kenya
During the third grade of the RESPECT program, students go abroad, and work as interns in various organizations, which include NGOs, schools, public organizations, and so on. Miku Ogawa, who is one of the RESPECT students and belongs to a doctor’s program at the Graduate school of Human Sciences, worked as an intern at a NGO in Kenya. She reports as following:
International collaboration for our survival
My internship was for three months in rural Kenya. The local NGO called ADEO (African Development and Emergency Organization) accepted me as an internship student. Unfortunately, the office, has been facing a shortage of funds and other resources. The major challenge of ADEO was to secure projects with a certain amount of outside money because it doesn’t have its own funds. Under these conditions, ADEO currently feels pressure to hand in new proposals to gain new projects with donors for its survival.
My major duty was to draft a proposal to start a new project with funds. ADEO introduced me to a village as a project site. The village has received support through ADEO since 2011 because of its extremely poor situation having been affected by HIV/AIDS. That support, however, has not been constant and has been mainly focused on material support such as house construction, distribution of food and other basic materials. Subsequently, the village continues to suffer the same problems a few months/year later due to its consumption and decrepitude. Hence, it is necessary and crucial to establish a sustainable structure which allows them to be independent of material support. Steps for a proposal could be divided into four: (1) to isolate the issues and needs in the village, (2) to consider an effective solution to tackle the challenges, (3) to establish a reliable relationship among several actors to ensure the sustainability of the project and (4) to write down the contents of the project as a proposal both in English and Japanese. All processes were executed through several discussions with ADEO and the community in the village to investigate and ensure the possibility of the project.
I experienced some opportunities to develop my literacy in the process of drafting a new project. Firstly, there were several conflicts between and the actors. The process to adjust to each actor’s opinion and to find an agreement allowed me to develop my communication literacy. Secondly, as part of my multi-lingual literacy I tried to develop the ability to use Swahili (the national language). Unfortunately, I could not develop skills for Luhya (the ethnic language in the community). My insufficient language skill was often a barrier to effective communication. On the other hand, when a conflict occurred between ADEO and the village, people in the village avoided condemning ADEO directly and relied on me to convey those complaints even though our language communication was poor. It may be evidence of their reliance on me. This has helped me to develop my field literacy. Thirdly, policy literacy could be improved in this internship. When I talked with people living with HIV/AIDS for the first time, I realized the severity of the situation and was even forced to think how powerless I was to tackle the issue because it is totally different from my major. However, in the process of focusing on income generating activities and drafting a proposal, I believe my professional field could contribute to making a better proposal. A lack of knowledge made me feel helpless, however, it also enabled me to find a solution from a different point of view. I became convinced of the importance and urgency of having professional perspectives when I received the result that my proposal had been approved by a donor in March.