by Linn Asbury

The inevitable question: Why?

Even with a teensy knowledge of LEAN, you’ll know about the method called the “Five Why’s”; it is used to explore cause and effect relationships underlying a specific problem. I’m blessed to be involved in a mission project doing community transformation work in a remote, impoverished part of western Kenya in the village of Kager. The project is the Jubilee Village Project (jubileevillage.org), and although my primary focus is improving education in this village, I have an ancillary role working with the women and girls in a microenterprise called “JubileeSpree” (jubileespree.com). This initiative is focused on creating an income for women who are paid by-the-piece for crocheting lovely hats. These hats are then brought to the US where volunteers use uber-creativity and awesome elements to embellish the hats to make them one-of-a-kind pieces. This is just one area in which we use the Five Why’s in our work in Kager to help us communicate simply with our Kenyan family as we work together to solve problems. It is amazing how much fun they have doing the Five Why’s with us. Jubilee Spree is the result of working through the problem of poverty using the Five Why’s method with our Kenyan partners. It went something like this:

Problem: The village of Kager is impoverished

WHY? The women, who are the primary caregivers, have no or very limited opportunity

WHY? A huge chunk of their time is spent collecting wood, gathering water and tending a garden

WHY? Culturally they are considered the least of the least

WHY? Their work is not perceived as valuable

WHY? They do not bring money into the family

SOLUTION! Create a simple business to empower women. With money, women will be able to feed and educate their children, improve their status, and participate in a meaningful way in the development of the village

Here’s the best part: Answering the 5 Why’s and responding with an action/plan has resulted in

women’s self esteem rising, families being fed and children educated. This is surely the right answer!