Michael in Kenya makes sure those in power listen to the people
Michael Migori in western Kenya is a passionate change maker. “I feel bad when people’s rights are violated. That’s why I’ve chosen to devote my life to this,” he says.
Devotes his life to human rights
Michael Migori works for Diakonia’s partner organization Clarion in western Kenya. He makes his way effortlessly through the main street in the little town that shares his name – Migori. Three lads on motorbikes call after him and he goes to greet them.
“Migori is our leader. We love him,” calls Daniel Onyango, one of the bikers.
Michael laughs and looks the other way, almost a little embarrassed.
“He’s a good person. He was born to represent the people,” says Daniel Onyango.
Michael has previously worked with these particular lads. They took part in a few courses about reducing violence against women. Michael is well known in the area and is called upon when all types of problems arise.
“People don’t ask what mandate Clarion has – they just know I work with human rights so they call on me whatever the problem may be,” says Michael, smiling.
And he’s happy about that because he thinks it is important to have good relationships with people in the village. He flings his arms wide.
“Unfortunately, I only got to go to school until eighth grade – my family couldn’t afford any more schooling. But I’ve done some courses since then. And now I want to share my knowledge with other people.”
Gives people in the community a leading role
Being Clarion’s local contact in Migori, he passes on knowledge of human rights and provides instruction in legislation that affects people, in how the taxation system works and in how to claim your rights as a citizen. He helps organize and support communities so that they can identify their needs for themselves and present them to state and municipal institutions.
“Clarion gives the people in a community a leading role. Other organizations present us with answers and solutions. They build latrines and schools. And then they realise that this wasn’t what was needed. It wasn’t what the people wanted. Clarion manages to do what it sets out to do. People feel good about being given a mandate to pursue their own issues while getting support to help them do so. That’s what I like best about Clarion,” he says.
He says that the villages in this part of Kenya have had contact with many organizations. Often, they have been disappointed. But with Clarion they can see that it works and that it is good for them.
“I can see that the distance between the people and those in power is shrinking. They’re meeting and discussing things. This is important. Those in power have started listening to the people.”
Plays a part in realising dreams
He is happy when he sees the tangible results of the work: schools, cottage hospitals, bridges, water pumps, toilets, rubbish dumps and all the rest. But this is not actually the most important thing.
“What’s most important is that people become aware of their rights and understand how the system works here in Kenya. They can then move forward and make great progress,” he says.
Michael thinks that Diakonia’s support is crucial to Clarion’s work.
“I don’t think we’d have been able to do our job without your support,” says Michael.
Despite the harsh reality, Michael wants to keep fighting for the poor and oppressed in his part of Kenya.
“I want to work for the people,” he says. “When I feel I can play a part in realising people’s dreams, that’s when I feel good.”