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Reisverslag A matter of behavorial differences
17 juli 2014
A matter of behavorial differences
It has been a while since I have written a blog. Last weeks were very busy, but also very exciting. Lieuwe Ramaker, my great friend from the Netherlands was in Kenya, and he wanted to spend his vacation partly participating in the project and partly enjoying Kenya once more. So we arranged all kinds of meetings (with friends in Kenya, with his brother in Nanyuki and some fun activities like the Elephant Orphanage and the Giraffe center), but also we used our time for making video footages for our project. These days are always extremely busy, with arranging all the logistics, shooting the videos, preparing everything etc. We are proud for the 5 shooting days, with in total 4 videos.
The first two videos were about getting tested. We shot the process of a boy and a girl visiting the clinic to get themselves tested on HIV. This process is feared by many young person and through this videos we would like to show them the importance of testing and that this process of testing is not scary at all. The only scary part is the end result, but it is always better to face the consequences as soon as possible to make early treatment possible for a better life after all. Both the boy and the girl have done an amazing job and we are looking forward to the end results.
Second video is a music video clip. 13 artists have created a song which is about our platform. This has been a cooperation with my great friend Mr Mayor and 2 co-producers called DJ Mantixx and Alfizo. Lieuwe has shot the footages for the music clip. These were awesome days doing this together with the artists. It was a hell of a job in planning, but everybody was impressed by the shooting days at the end. Again everybody is so curious about what Lieuwe will make of it.
Last video, I could not be there due to food poisoning. It’s my first time in Kenya that I have been sick, but it was immediately really bad. I cannot recall being more sick ever in my life before. But luckily I’m regaining strength at the moment of writing so it didn’t take so long. The last video shoot was about a positive speaker. A girl who was infected by her first and only boyfriend. She talks about the struggle of living with HIV, but also about the hope that still a worthy life is possible. Also she will send out a message to the young people in Kenya to get themselves informed and protect themselves from HIV.
Besides Lieuwe, also a friend of Pim Verweij was here. He is also a Dutch TV-producer and he created a short documentary about this project. We have seen the first draft of this documentary and it’s really nice. Vodafone Foundation Netherlands has also responded very enthusiastic and they are strategizing on how to use this documentary. There will be 3 versions and soon Vodafone will push this through their communication channels. I will keep you of course informed once it’s out in the media.
So you can see, a lot of things has happened lately. We created a music song, created video footages for all different purposes, created infographics, are busy with collecting professional photographs, are creating logo’s for our platform, decided on the name (the platform will be called youth4life) and started conversations with Safaricom for a big launch. Next Monday we are exactly halfway through the project and we are perfectly on track. Content is in full progress and we can almost shift to preparing the launch of the platform.
So looking back on the project, it is going amazing. This can become really big and something which we all will be very proud off. But looking back this last half year has also helped me to understand more why it is so difficult for Kenya to get out of their hard situation where they are in right now. Because you have to wonder for yourself, the people are quite intelligent, they have way more natural resources than many European countries, most Africans are also much more gifted with talents than Europeans, like singing and dancing etc. You start to wonder why can Kenya and many other African countries cannot get a grip to themselves. Allow me to elaborate a bit on my thoughts about this. Because in my opinion Kenya has a big behavioral problem which is the key for many problems Kenya is facing.
I started to call this “Short-term” vision and “Long-term” vision. I think this is the main difference between European culture and the Kenyan culture. In Europe we are raised with a “Long-term” vision in almost everything. From we are young we are learned to think ahead of us. To think about your study, which direction will you take and when you become older you need to think about your future all the time. We have pension, we are focused on personal savings and think about social security and how to arrange this amongst your life. We also have a strong customer sense of thinking. When I buy something in the Netherlands in a store and it is broke within a week, almost every shop will replace the item freely. Why? Because they realize a happy customer is a returning customer in the long term. All our society is focused on how we can live together for the best in the longer term. Ok, to be honest, due to the crisis some people and companies are losing this focus, but in general we are drained with thinking ahead on what our future will look like. We are quite a planning country.
In Kenya this is completely the opposite. Everything here is “Short-term” minded. And this is causing a lot of problems. But the whole nation is drained with this kind of mind setting. I know these are some statements, but let me give some examples I have experienced last half year.
Example 1 is about the traffic. I think this is the best example from Nairobi, because you cannot imagine how horrible the traffic is over here. Last week we were driving back from a field trip and the complete city was jammed. We had to take a turn left into the only lane where there was no traffic. But before we reached the turn, from the other direction people started over taking the waiting lane and started to use the opposite lane of the road. This gave them a 3 cars advantage, to stop 5 meters further in the same jam. But now they were blocking our free lane, so we could also not move anymore. Our driver raised a question to the car who overtook the waiting line and in response the guy who was in the wrong lane became very angry that he could not pass anymore. Can you imagine, you are the person who are violating the rules but also start complaining that nobody will let you through. The problem is that everybody is “short-term” focused, used to fight for that little free space they can see at that moment and therefore causing immense problems for the whole city. Traffic lights have no use, lanes have no use, when there is traffic jam matatu’s will use the side of the roads causing bigger problems etc. All trying to over pass each other on that moment.
Example 2 is making appointments with Kenyans is hard when you are “short-term” focused. Last week I arranged a team event to show our gratitude for the work that has been done and for the coming half of the period. I wanted to give them a good team event and had found a karting and paintball place in Nairobi which was offered as a team event. It was quite expensive and I had to make a reservation upfront. I e-mailed every WoD-participant that this was a costly event, so if you really could not make it, please let me know in advance. It was on Friday and on Wednesday evening when I wanted to say goodbye to one of the members and said see you Friday, she said oh but I will not make it, I have an exam on Friday. Then on Thursday another person e-mailed me that he was not able to attend the full team-event due to some reasons etc. The problem is not that this happens on purpose, but somehow something happens on the “short-term” and they forget to think what this means for the “longer-term”. Something comes in between and then an agreement made earlier becomes invalid without notification. I did a small test once on our regular 2-weekly meeting. On one of our meetings I e-mailed 1 day before that I did not had received any cancellations so I expected everybody to be there the next day. And by surprise, they were all there. Last week I did not send any e-mail upfront our regular meeting and only 2 of the 8 showed up on that meeting.
Last example I wanted to give are money problems. When money is involved, everything becomes “short-term” minded. While in Europe we have a kind of a sense of customer value. We know that if you start a partnership instead of trying to achieve quick profits, you will gain much more out of your longer term relationships. Therefore we are much more careful not to rip somebody off which is a strong business partner. In Kenya this is different. They know somewhere that they can benefit from the relationship in the future, but the moment they got offered money for example to reimburse their transport costs, they will ask 2 or 3 times or even more the amount they actually need. And it’s not that these are extreme figures, but they try to profit from that specific moment you offer them money. Leaving myself feeling a bit cheated because I know by now what the transport prices are. And for me I wish to tell them so much if they would just ask the right amount and show their integrity, I would be much more generous in different ways and much more money could be made available for them in a later stage. But the “short-term” of having money right now is stronger than to trust on the “long-term” relationship. Corruption is always one of the excesses of “short-term” thinking and money. I can get a lot of money right now, who cares about the future of my fellow country man. That is really a destructive way of thinking for a country.
As I have been experiencing this world of cultural differences the last half year I really had to call on my patience and give extra energy to try to arrange the things I want them to go. The way I see it is that you have two options. Use your patience and double, even triple check everything if you want European standards to work in Africa, or let it go and start to become more “short-term” focused and let you surprise by the results at that moment, because this will make your life much more easier. That’s also the reason why some of Europeans really love it over here, because you don’t have to think much about consequences, planning and the future things. The way we are structured in Europe is of course causing high pressure and much stress, because we try to have everything in grip. One of the good things about the “short-term” mentality in my opinion is that Kenyans are realizing much more that they life today and they also enjoy the days much more. They really have the power of living the moment, while in the Netherlands I always experience a lot of “later-I-will” kind of mentality. With my pension I will enjoy life, when I finally live in that house I will enjoy my life, when I have more money, I will reduce my work and enjoy life etc. We could learn a lot from this side of the “short-term” thinking, because we sometimes forget to live today instead of tomorrow. But I also strongly believe that many problems in Kenya can be solved here once the mentality here is changed a bit from “short-term” to “long-term” ways of thinking.
My wish for the Kenyans is that they will learn to understand this and start acting towards this more and more. There are luckily great examples of Kenyans who show the difference day by day. My biggest examples are our house owner who is really service oriented and acts on any request immediately we have, and another one is my great friend Stephan Ouma the photographer, who joined us for free last weeks to experience the program, knowing that we will make use of his services later on in this project. In my opinion I believe he understands what investing in relationships means and that’s why he gets these amazing challenges all over the world. Of course I could mention many other examples, but my story is already too long .
I hope my mumbling made some sense! Feel free to start the discussion, as I always like to openly discuss these things to sharpen my mind! Take care and see you in the next blog! Halftime is here!
Foto's bij verslag (15)
17 juli 2014 19:55 | Door: Elizabeth
Boeiend verslag, er gebeurd veel wat positief is.Fijn dat het project gestaag vordert. Veel sterkte en succes. Xxx moeder