First of all, let me apologize for our delinquency in updating the blog here from Kenya! It has been an EXTREMELY busy week at Kaizora, which has been amazing. We have been hitting the ground running every day from 8:30 am to about 10 pm at night, with trainings, implementing behavior plans, and world autism awareness day activities!! Suffice to say, we’ve just been having too much fun to adequately report on what we’re doing.
Yesterday was a half day of training for us, so after finishing up at Kaizora, I took the team to lunch and then to the Kazuri bead factory. Kazuri means “something small and beautiful” in kiSwahili, and it was a factory started by two women as a sustainable, community-based employment opportunity for single mothers and disadvantaged women in the Nairobi community. Now, the factory has grown to employ over 340 women, exporting beautiful beads and pottery made from locally-sourced material to all over the world. It started tiny—“small and beautiful” if you will—but is now a source of sustainable employment for so many people who need it, as well as truly local form of economic development.
Looking at the amazing progress of this tiny idea over the years, I could not help but think of it as a metaphor for what Kaizora is doing. Kaizora (which means “child” in sanscrit) started as something “small and beautiful” in Nairobi. Initially it was just one person (Pooja) providing therapy for a few kids at her house. Now it’s blossomed into this remarkable movement. Since SkillCorps was on the ground last time, Kaizora’s clinical staff has tripled and they have taken on even more new clients. This trip we have been working on Natural Environment Teaching (NET) and all of the staff (even the new ones) were remarkably proficient at understanding advanced ABA concepts such as various motivating operations after just a small amount of training. Their passion for learning and the kids they world with is truly unbelievable to me.
Last Tuesday, April 2nd, was World Autism Awareness Day. I had the amazing honor to go to Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital here in Nairobi and sit at a booth with Kaizora Consultants and Autism Awareness Kenya as they provided free behavior consults, developmental screening, and information about autism. It was also amazing to hear Joe, one of Kaizora’s senior staff, give a morning radio interview about autism. Reflecting back on the past four years of partnership with Kaizora, it is clear that everything remarkable starts with something “small and beautiful. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”