Human Enterprise Triumph – Barka Foundation.“In 1985, Tomaz Sadowski a psychologist with experience of working in grouphomes of troubled youth, prisons and psychiatric clinic, alongside with 14 otherpersons, established an experimental Centre for Psychological Rehabilitation inPoznan” (New beginning Pg 19).“The structure of Rehabilitation Centre bothered part of the medical environment,which said that the proposed model “does not fit into the psychiatric help”. The stepsto remove the psychologist from managing the centre were undertaken” (Newbeginning Pg 20).“At first it was planned that the house would be run on rotational basis by familiesevery three months. Eventually it turned out that the house needed a permanentpresence and interest of people prepared to perform this kind of job. TomaszSadowski along with his family moved into the community permanently” (Newbeginning Pg 22).“When in 1989 Tomasz moved in to Barka with his wife and kids, the couple wasemployed by the health service. In 1991 they become unemployed. This way they werein the same situation as the other members of the Community”. Then Tomasz’sstatement follows: “We do not take care of our problems, we simply live here. Myfriends, who are psychologists as well, can earn money on the problems of thedisadvantaged but without me. If I was an employee here and would leave the houseat 3pm or 4 pm, nothing would be here. There must be some confrontation of attitudesand some example. I cannot provide services here. I need to give evidence with mylife”. (New beginning Pg 24).The Barka Foundation which embraces a multiplicity of activities is a success storywithout parallel. Here we come face to face, with people or collection of people whounder “normal” conditions would be destitute living a life of despair, misery,hopelessness, scavenging and looking forward to the ultimate exist from life as theonly chance of liberation. Through circumstances of poor choices or factors out oftheir control they find themselves being “excluded” from mainstream joy and benefitsopen to society.Novelty, belief, resilience, perseverance, conviction and turning hope into action bythis collection of individuals changed the view point and concepts of society intorecognising that the excluded, the marginalised, those that society reject to theperipheral due to a variety of reasons resides within them innovation, ingenuity,resourcefulness that is vast reservoir of potential.In all cases, this reservoir of potential as was the case of Barka at time of formation“does not fit into” the accepted norms. While normality or accepted forms in whateversphere of human existence develop over time and gain acceptance it is not a truereflection of human potential.Foundation of Barka.The Barka foundation is a success because of its novelty. Its unique feature isrecycling the basic human desire, urge, that hope which is in every human being tohave a fulfilled life. The broken in society deep inside them resides hope, longing and
expectation that a time and moment will arise through which they can also becameuseful, contribute to or be part of success or influence others.Unfortunately society is blind to this fact and it consigns this segment of humanity tothe periphery or margin becoming a source of servitude. They became the fuel or rawmaterial for the privileged. This being the case, assistance extended to themarginalised or excluded in society is designed to neutralise acts of desperation whichwould destabilise society.In Barka we find this norm challenged through re-energising these broken people.This fact is acknowledged in the following quote “recognising and developing of thepotential of such individuals who were formally perceived as “ballast” or burden forthe local community and now have become “the capital of the local communities”and are included in the support for others in need, and in rendering services to thebenefit of the local community.” Page 8.It is important to clarify here that in most cases help is given such as the variousprogrammes and provisions extended to the BRM communities here in the UK.However, these result in relief and not solutions even though they are not intended tobe so. This is rightly captured in page 10, quote “Barka is inspired by Christianethos, although it calls itself a secular organisation. This ethos is translated intocontemporary language and bases on the relief in mutual help. It is free from theChristian “Charity model” from Victorian era - still popular in Great Britain, whosegroundwork is a palliative attitude, being only a half measure, smoothing thesymptoms without curing the disease”Change requires a catalyst, an incentive, a force mild or strong, need, desire or wantto move, become or transformed into another state. In Barka we find all theseingredients, in the opening quotes to this discussion paper we meet Tomaz Sadowskienergised with a strong conviction not only to relieve the suffering of people whoselives are broken but to rehabilitate and transform them beyond who they wereoriginally. This to him called for involvement through participation in the changeprocess becoming part and parcel of the transformation.On the other hand we experience the willingness, participation and desire for changeand rehabilitation. This is elevated by resultant positive change or outcome experienceby the individuals. This is well captured on page 10 quote “Activity at Barka in newcircumstances – not limited by the old tradition, affected its success, which transmitsinto thousands of persons using the Barka system in the past ten years.This systemmakes it possible to develop programs, in which people do not wait for free lunch, butcontribute to build and develop mutual interactions”. This notion of harnessingcollective talents and abilities is captured on page 13, quote “To be a social activist,to act for the common good, not – to sacrifice oneself, but to find one’s place in thebigger group, the community. To be able to be together, be oneself – but not only foroneself, also for others. Is it all possible?. Isn’t it an idealistic dream?. I encounteredsuch a model of self–realisation ten years ago when, by the occasion of a journalist’svisit, I went to the precincts of Austrian biggest glacier, Pitztal”.Replicating Barka.The Poland success model revolves around persons that whose lives are broken,marginalised or excluded by influence of drugs, alcohol or material want such aspeasant farmers. This can easily turn out to cloud the vision or goodness that theBarka experience offers society. Indeed glimpses of this are evident in Newbeginning. It is noted of Barka on page 338 quote “ They are also an inspiration for achange of the way of thinking of social integration in Great Britain and Ireland,
where high professionalism of services prevents processes of transformation anddevelopment”. On page 183, we note the Polish experience of exchange visit to Italy,in which the participants of social enterprise are of a different social exclusionconclude, quote “After this visit, I discovered, that we have a long way to go to reachsuch standards”.In this regard, it would be beneficial to note page 260, quote “ Comparing of Italy andPolish cooperatives indicates big differences concerning proportions in numbers ofemployees with social problems and persons fully belonging to the market, managingsocial cooperatives. In Poland they cannot exceed 20% under condition, that theirqualifications are indispensable for efficient operation of a social cooperative. InItaly proportions are almost inverse: approximately 30% are disabled persons,addicts or resourceless people, the remaining group are able-bodied persons orpossible volunteers who are trained for the job and prospective employment”.The extracts above are just glimpses to the fact that change of circumstance throughcollective harnessing of abilities and resourcefulness whatever the state of the groupcan and will uplift them to higher levels of achievements.Relevance of BarkaWe note above a number of truths among them1. In whatever state we are in, there exists within us an element of exclusion.2. The capabilities or know how within the group influences or contributes to the baseline or start point of achievement. A highly talented group has broad latitude as exemplified by the Italian experience.3. The UK programmes are palliative and contribute to relative comfort and not designed for groups or persons to excel. It confines the “excluded” to perpetual pass the bowl around.4. Within the existing mind set, the BRM peoples will continue in the periphery of society.5. Success is achieved through participatory involvement. All have to be committed and work towards a defined goal or outcome.6. “As discussed, the role of the social economy is not so much as bringing an (excluded) man back to the market, but rather bringing the market back to the man.” Page 253.7. “The nucleus of a cooperative must consist of responsible, motivated, involved and active people.” Page 228.Barka and African Communities In the discussion above it has become explicit that the Barka experience or model isapplicable and can enrich a whole spectrum of people or groups in a variety of state ofhuman existence. It does not discriminate the drug addict, alcoholic, the farmer or theprofessional. As illustrated by the example of Italy, the professional is at anadvantage.Within the African communities, we do have resource disparities, some are within thePolish model with low skills and others with high skills.The Kenya Community Association (KCL) Strategic Plan, it highlights thecommunity’s advantaged earning power. It is reasonable to state that, the family unithas potential of £42,000 annual income which is twice of families employed withinindustry. However, it is sad to note, that giving £120 annually to the Association is aburden.
Observation.I have conviction and strong belief, that there exist the will, there exist persons andgroup of individuals to constitute the nucleus that not only see with clarity thegoodness, potential and opportunity of the Barka success mutated to fit ourcircumstances but the enabling environment is within us.Report by Baiba Dhidha MjidhoKenya Community Association, Merseyside, UK