The Kibo Way
The following describes the foundational principles of Kibo USA and its contributions to the Kibo Way. This is intended to help our American and other non-African partners and visitors appreciate Kibo’s foundations and how their participation extends toward the on-the-ground work of Kibo’s African leaders and partners.
Kibo is a faith-inspired nonprofit organization that partners with East Africans to pursue local solutions for poverty and injustice to help communities flourish. In what follows, we briefly describe how this mission is sustained through the why, what, and how of the Kibo Way.
The Kibo Why
More than just an organization with projects, Kibo is a network of friendships that started between a small group of Ugandans and Americans in the mid-1990s and that now includes a wide, expanding community. These friendships motivate Kibo’s efforts to address poverty and injustice in African communities.*
Kibo is not a religious organization in the sense of being governed by a larger religious community or institution. As such, Kibo works without favoritism or proselytizing agendas, and values collaboration with any religious, cultural, or political communities with overlapping goals. At the same time, Kibo’s founders and leaders are inspired by Christian faith. This includes convictions that a good and loving God values friendship, wants everyone to flourish, and invites all to participate in the work of repairing the world.† The Kibo Way also draws on notions of the sacredness and abundance of creation, the dignity and creativity of all people, and the active anticipation of a good future.◊ This is why Kibo is described as “faith-inspired.”
The Kibo What
Kibo pursues what can be described as asset-based, holistic, sustainable community development. Each of those terms is important for understanding the Kibo Way:
The Kibo How
Kibo’s work is made possible through the following priorities and practices:
* While Kibo has the strategic plans, organizational charts, and policies that well-run organizations require, its cross-cultural friendships rely on trust, humility, patience, and attentiveness. Collaborative friendships are complex and sometimes messy, but they promise organic, mutually enriching, and dignifying development.
† In Christian terminology, themes of friendship reflect the “incarnation” which understands God’s work in the world primarily through the ministry and friendship of Jesus of Nazareth and the love he cultivates between people. Friendship is also reflected in “perichoresis” which describes God’s inner being in terms of a kind of “dance” between the “partners” of the Divine Trinity (Father, Son, and Spirit). From this, human partnerships are understood as participations in this divine dance of friendship (see the descriptions below). The theme of flourishing reflects the full, abundant life that God intends for everyone to experience (John 10:10). This is a holistic vision that blends physical, social, and spiritual well-being, thus honoring the need for “daily bread” (Matthew 6:11) while acknowledging that humans cannot live “on bread alone” (Matthew 4:4). The idea of repairing the world (Hebrew: tikkun olam) is a central concept in modern Judaism and aligns with Christian notions of God reconciling all things (Colossians 1:20) and calling people to the “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18). Such efforts are frustrated by systems and forces — such as the “ecosystems of poverty” — that steal and destroy what is good (John 10:10), so people are invited to “stand against” these forces (Ephesians 6:11-12).
◊ A sacred and abundant creation reflects the notion of a world created to be “good” (Genesis 1-2). Similarly, the dignity, creativity, and equality of people, regardless of social and biological distinctions, reflects the notion of humans being created in “the image of God” (Genesis 1:27). While Christian theology presents these original qualities as now distorted, like images in a broken mirror, their traces are ubiquitous and can be mobilized in restorative ways. Finally, the anticipation of a good future is a description of Christian hope. Beyond mere optimism, hope draws on the conviction that God actively works to establish peace “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). While acutely attuned to the power of evil and the lamenting cries of the Psalmist — “how long, LORD?”(Psalm 13:1) – hope continues to pursue peace and justice, thus participating proleptically in God’s work of creating “one new humanity” (Ephesians 2:15) and “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1).