Beyond Good Intentions


            At the heart of most ventures in international development lay a sense of good intent. I believe that this is generally a good thing.  However, responding “but they meant well”, as some projects have gone awry, is far too common for my comfort. Good intentions aren’t enough for me. After spending a year in Ghana, and a few years in university reproducing criticism of development work, I found it difficult to figure out where I stood within this field, where I wanted to go and most importantly if I should.

As I ventured further into the field I found that there were many likeminded well-intentioned white women such as myself, but thought how often in this space do we examine whether we should be the ones doing this work? I have also found that jaded criticism of development work is just as prevalent as well-intentioned idealism, if not even more rampant.  Whether one falls on either side of this spectrum, there is still work to be done, and with or without us others are doing it. 

            The single most important quality to have in this line of work is humility.  Us people– we’re proud creatures. I’ve watched others, and myself, claim a small patch of a distant place, a whole country, a piece of work, or a group of people. I’ve wondered why is it so easy to stake a claim on something that is not ours, but much larger than ourselves? To go forth into a community as a guest, we should offer our hands, our head, our heart up in supplication, asking “help me and let me help you, and how shall I do it?”.  And in our enthusiasm, to remember to always stop and listen for the response.  We must apply lessons learned before and after venturing into something new, and to be ever aware of the implications of our part in this work.  Someone shared with me an attractive phrase recently. Heart + Head = Hustle. In the case of international development, perhaps heart + head + humility = responsible hustle is appropriate. Not quite as catchy, but I’m working on it.Image


A beginning.

Hello beautiful pAbodameople! I hope this message finds you happy and healthy.

I’m ready for the next grand adventure! After many, many months of searching and applying for new challenges and opportunities I was accepted into a fellowship program. I’m going to Kenya this September!!!! I feel so blessed right now.

I believe that every person is significant. Every person is capable. And every person is powerful. But no person is an island. We all need encouragement and support. Over the next few months I’ll be looking to you as sources of knowledge as well as financial and emotional support.  I hope you’ll join me!

In the professional development aspect to the program, I’m asked to raise $20,000 for the project. Fundraising is essential to non-profit work. At first this number terrified me. I was not going to accept the position.  But I refuse to let fear stop me from rising to meet the challenges of following my dreams.

I’m leaving for Kenya in just 64 days. If you can’t donate right now, please share this with a friend, or you can volunteer your time and resources to some of my fundraising events.

I’ll be joining Mama Hope and Our Lady of Perpetual Support in Kisumu, Kenya as an advocate and sustainability officer.  OLPS provides HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services for Kisumu and its surrounding community.  I’ll be working on the Rita Rose Garden and Farm used to feed the clinic’s patients, 700 orphans/vulnerable children and their caregivers. With the money I raise, we’ll be working on improving yields in the greenhouse, standardizing honey production, restocking the fish ponds, scaling up training on drip irrigation and distributing kitchen garden kits.

  Whatever you contribute ensures healthy futures for the women, men, and children of Kisumu.  Believe me, I understand that life can be a struggle–but I can guarantee that you would never regret contributing. Every single dollar of this project goes straight to improving the quality of life for this community.

You can donate online directly to my fundraising page:

Or you can send a check to: Mama Hope 582 Market Street, Suite 611, San Francisco, CA 94104. Please make sure to put Courtney/Kisumu in the memo.

I wish I could bring all of you along with me, but I’ll be sharing our stories and journey on a blog, and through emails.

Thank you for reading this! Thank you being a special person in my life.

So much love for all of you, Courtney