The mission of Africa Rising was to increase the impact and reach of African community-based organizations by enabling them to learn from and collaborate with each other
To respond well to the challenges and opportunities in a community, one must know the community well. Those who live in the communities know them best. However, Africa community based organizations (CBOs) depend heavily on outsiders – in many cases, Westerners - for funds to achieve their missions. And outsider’s funds often come with strings attached. Donors may want things done a certain way, or want certain things done that are not central to the vision or mission of the CBO. Moreover, donor and recipient roles emerge that work against CBO self-direction and self-confidence. The roles lead to nearly exclusive reliance on the donor-recipient relationship, making both donors and recipients blind to alternative options.
We believe that valuable insights and resources within African communities and CBOs can be tapped by enabling them to interact with, learn from, teach and encourage each other. And in learning to turn to each other, African CBOs will be less dependent on donations from the West, and more resourceful and successful in meeting the challenges and capitalizing on the opportunities in their communities.
Africa Rising grew out of a Christian church. Those of us who brought it into being did so out of a desire to live for others as Jesus did, and as Jesus would do in today’s world.
Christian churches have a very long and varied history of responding to the needs of the world. With due respect for those who had gone before us, we wanted to present a model of interacting with those in need in Africa that differed from those that predominate today. Rather than giving to or working for Africans, we wanted to work with them. And rather than attempting to lead Africans, we wanted to follow their lead. Thus, rather than charity, our driving force was hospitality. We imagined setting a table for a shared meal between Africans and non-Africans; where Africans are in the majority and the rest of us are brought into their conversations and their hopes and dreams.
Jesus often shared meals with others. Some of the dinner guests believed in him; some did not. Some were upstanding citizens; some were not. We sought to follow Jesus in this model. Although motivated by the love of God, we did not limit our interactions to those who believed as we did. Some of the African organizations we worked with were Christian; some were not. All of them cared for others regardless of their beliefs. And all wanted to be part of the Africa Rising conversation, seeking ways to build each other up.
It was during meals that Jesus revealed some of the most profound insights into the Kingdom of God. We hoped that God’s Kingdom would similarly become evident in our acts of hospitality.
We achieved our mission by building a network of relationships among a 14 African-founded and African run CBOs. We strengthened the network through three main functions: (1) we brought representatives of all of the organization together once a year to hear what each other had been doing and dreaming; (2) throughout the year, we helped bring two or more organizations together to collaborate on a project of their choosing; and (3) between gatherings, our African liaison would visit the organizations to learn about their challenges and explore with them resources within the other organizations of the network. to address the challenge.