community development traditions

school supplies parents


Today I’m sharing about a September tradition in Matara over at Communities of Hope.

Here’s the thing, Claude and I work hard to break the NGO dependency cycle in our community development endeavors. We don’t want to be known as the hand-out people. We work hard to move people toward sustainability, toward viable and vibrant communities that thrive without us. We want our friends to not need us for the daily necessities of life.

But friends are friends – and we cultivate traditions during our years together. We love gift-giving as much as anyone else. They give us fresh eggs when we come to visit, sometimes hand-made pottery, sometimes soap they’ve made themselves. And we give them school supplies every September. It’s like Christmas. We do it now because it’s fun to be together and open gifts and see the kids smiling their toothy grins and all the laughter ringing through the mountain pathways is the best kind of music.

They don’t need our gifts as much these days. And that’s good. But they love our gifts because they love us. And we love the tradition because it binds us as friends who’ve shared this journey from vulnerable to viable, from anxiety to abundance.

So we’ve decided that some gift-giving is good and has it’s place inside a real friendship. If we decided not to come – the tradition would be broken, and that would diminish us all. So we are learning, as these friends are now strong and nearly self-sustaining, that handing out some gifts is still alright. Now it is out of friendship, not necessity.

Community development, deep transformation, is a continual journey…


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One thought on “community development traditions”

  1. Fiona Lynne
     ·  Reply

    Kelley, I love this, the way you see through the binaries and find a path that brings life – promoting true sustainable development but also embracing gift giving as good. x

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All content on this site is copyrighted by Kelley Nikondeha. Please do not copy work without permission. You are welcome to quote or reference my blog in your article, but please make sure you link back to the original post. Please do not post an article in full without permission, because that is a violation of intellectual property. (My African friends have a different sense of this, but being American, I can tell you it does matter to me!)

All writing on this site represents my own journey, my own wrestling, my own epiphanies. While I work with Communities of Hope, ideas shared here do not necessarily represent this organization.