Here’s a term I once dismissed as junk: CBO. Community Based Organization. It’s a term that development organizations routinely bandy about—a village committee set-up to maintain a recently-drilled borehole, a lending group of women set-up to ensure micro-finance repayments.
Blerg, as Tina Fey would say.
But I’ve recently realized there are a number Lusaka community groups—CBOs, if you will—that deserve special recognition. These are the real deal; the get shit done.
1. The Kabwata Community Gym: Gym of Legends
My local gym, this group of muscle-bound men work out in what 50 years ago was a community hall in a suburb of Lusaka. They enforce monthly gym fees with the honour system, have a posted list of “Rules of the Gym” which members religiously peer-enforce, and recently sent me home one morning when I hadn’t brought my gym towel. Their AGM is schedule for later this month.
2. Drop-in Saturday morning basketball
Starting at 6:00 a.m. old timers (us) face off against highschool-ers and college upstarts at the rustic Zamsure gymnasium. For two hours we run-and-gun, talk trash, foul too often, and (we, the old timers) usually win. Last Saturday I was pulled aside by our team to contribute K250,000 (about $50) to this year’s court fees. It’s a point of pride to be considered a contributing regular and now my part obligation to keep weekend basketball alive and well.
3. St Ignatius Parish
We were treated to an abbreviated homily last Sunday, but only to save time at the end of mass for the introduction of the 2011 Parish Council. A 20-plus collection of doctors, lawyers, community-boosters and the like make up the Council which seems packed with plenty of muscle to manage all the prayer groups, choirs, special events, and liturgical and financial obligations of the parish. All for nothing more than a bit of annual recognition.
Knowing I’m a part of three great community groups in Lusaka makes me proud. It also makes me see the hardwork and history that is absolutely mandatory for any CBO to be successful.