Rita Lugogo, CHOICE-Trivani In-Country Director for Kenya visits Utah

January 14, 2010 at 10:51 pm 2 comments

Rita Lugogo is the CHOICE Humanitarian In-Country Director for Kenya and a key player in the CHOICE-Trivani partnership.  Recently, Rita traveled to Utah to present on the work she and her in-country staff are doing in Kenya, which to date has impacted over 42,000 villagers through various self-developing initiatives in the sectors of health, education and politics.  Through her dedication and commitment to the people of Kenya, Rita has cultivated a sense of empowerment and ownership in the communities with which she has established relationships.

Rita’s involvement in Kenya dates back many years.  She met her husband, Juma Lugogo, when she was in Kenya with the Peace Corps. Even though Rita is originally from Italy, and received her college degrees in the U.S., the Kenyan people still consider her a member of her husband’s tribe. The Kenyan people have also embraced CHOICE Humanitarian and consider the CHOICE team to be part of their community. According to Rita, “They know that we are sincere, and that we want to work with them.”

Rita explains that CHOICE and Trivani staff are simply facilitators that help villages come up with the solutions themselves. She points out that there are people who fall into a thinking cycle of poverty. She notes that the villagers readily say things such as, ‘I can’t do this or that because I’m poor; I can’t take my children to school because I’m poor.’  Rita responds by pointing to her head and saying, “you are not poor, because you have something up here.” She recognizes that the people have natural intelligence; they can come up with ideas. They simply don’t have the opportunity or the development support to take the ideas further. That’s where CHOICE and Trivani can step in.

One such project that CHOICE and Trivani support is the Samburu Integrated Development Project (SIDEP).  SIDEP helps villages form their own committees, become legal entities, and come up with ideas that will generate income for the village. The cycle of mental poverty starts to break down. Rita shares the discoveries of village leaders – the realization that they can do something about their problems.  They ask, ‘What are my resources? Cash is only one. What else could I use?’  To promote self-reliance and self-development, Rita tells them, before you look to others, look to yourselves. When you are missing a key element to your plan, then you can look to a non-profit organization to help you obtain the item you need to continue your efforts.

Rita is passionate about education. “Education is the key factor,” she says. “People get out of poverty through education.” While the Kenyan government recently decided to make primary education free, the schools are still desperately under staffed and ill-equipped to serve all the children.  Sometimes, there are as many as 60-80 children per classroom.   This great need and the importance of education led to Trivani’s involvement with CHOICE to build school rooms, desks, and latrines.

The Kenyan children are grateful, and they know how important an education is. “You don’t have to tell a Kenyan child to sit still or keep quiet,” Rita says. “To them education is a privilege. They value it.”

CHOICE and Trivani are looking at new projects that will simultaneously address vital needs in the village and help the villagers turn these projects into self-sustaining enterprises. “CHOICE and Trivani work together so well,” Rita says.  “The sky is the limit for us.”

When people ask Rita why she has dedicated her life to improving the situation of the Kenyan people, she answers, “I sleep well at night because I know we have made a difference. There are people who are better off because of what I could do for them. And it didn’t cost me anything. Just a little of my time, and a little of my guidance.”


Entry filed under: Kenya, Trivani HQ. Tags: , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kiran Neupane  |  January 15, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Very encouraging.

  • 2. Oreu  |  January 19, 2010 at 6:24 am

    Mama Rita gives all of herself in uplifting the lot of persons less fortunate in our society. It is inspiring to learn from her, how to work hard every day, and have the energy and motivation to do it over again the next day and the next day. Her work reminds me of the fable of the old man and the child walking by sea shore, tossing back into the ocean, one star fish at a time, when millions are stranded on the shore. Despite our own limited efforts, for the one star fish that was returned to the sea, that one gesture made all the difference. Mama Rita’s work, guidance and time are a privilege we thank God we have in Kenya.


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Trivani Field Notes is your connection to the people on the ground engaged in the humanitarian work supported by Trivani Foundation.
Each week, new updates and stories from the field will be posted to share the accomplishments, needs, and gratitude from those who can best report the difference Trivani Foundation is making in the fight against poverty.

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