The World is Made Better When Sharing Becomes the Norm

By Mike Mungai

These illustrations were developed after reading an anthropological story about African kids. Well, it made me think  that people of the world  should realise that cooperation makes us all better. This does not mean that competition makes the world worse. Extreme acts of selfishness that result from competition are the ones that harm the world making a section of the world’s people to become losers. In contrast, cooperation even when insignificant leaves all people feeling great and no one feels inadequate or deprived. This means that cooperation promotes the common good making everyone a winner. Hence individual selfish benefits are sacrificed to promote mutual benefits.

Hence

“If we cared for each other, if we shared in each others joys and sorrows, if we looked at each other and saw our brother or sister, if we respected each other, if we could genuinely help those who are in need- just as we would want to be helped if it were we, who were in need; would not the world be such a peaceful and lovely place to live?
But now that we look at each others weaknesses, problems and needs and use them to our advantage, now that we look at other people and judge them on the basis of color, religion and social status, now that we look at others and scheme up ways of manipulating them and ripping benefits from their efforts, now that we look at others and want to abuse their vulnerability; is not this the reason why there is so much trouble, strife and suffering in the world today?
I hope that a day will come that a day will come that we will learn to appreciate one another, care for each other, understand one another, that a day will come when we will look at others and see human beings, individuals with strengths and weaknesses, but still beautiful human beings. For when that day comes, we will hear no more about poverty; for we will all share in each others problems, we will all either be rich or poor. We will hear no more about human rights abuses; for we will have learned to treat others with the dignity that we would want ourselves to be treated with. There will be no more exploitation, just appreciation.
At that time, UBUNTU: I am because we are, will be realized.”

Since we are Born Equal, we Can End Slavery

Mike Mungai

It is estimated that approximately 27 million people today, world over, are being held in some form of slavery or another. These are very grim statistics considering that during the slave trade era, it was approximated that the population of people that were held in slavery was 14 million.

After the Second World War, it was realized that there was a need to encourage basic freedoms for all. The United Nations was established and in December of 1948 it adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It called upon it’s member countries to disseminate the text of the Declaration. Sadly, many in the world still do not know of the basic rights as outlined by the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Article 1 states that: “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” This simply means that all are entitled to fair universal treatment. However, world over today, this is sadly the case. Individuals, men, women and children are being held in slavery. They are made to work in houses, farms, mines, being sexually exploited: all these against their will. If all human beings are born equal in dignity and rights; why are some people using threats and coercion to gain control of others so as to benefit from these un-symbiotic relationships?

Article 2 states that the Universal Declaration applies to everyone, despite the difference in their backgrounds. Article 3 states that everyone has the right to life.
Article 4 categorically states that no one should be held in slavery or servitude. However, statistics show that the number of people being held in slavery continues to increase rather than decrease, the main challenge being the covert nature of modern slavery which makes it (modern slavery) hard to identify, address and combat. Threats, torture and coercion are used to hold people in slavery which is contrary to the provision of Article 4 which states that “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

This being the reality world over, we are all challenged to do something, to act and ensure that more and more people get to know their basic rights, as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, other Regional Declarations, National Constitutions and subsequent laws. A world without human trafficking, a world without modern day trafficking is achievable, but we all have to play our part no matter how little. If we want to see a change in the trend of human trafficking, if we want to see it end, then we have to put the words of Mahatma Gandhi into action: “we have to be the change that we want to see in the world.”

Let us act, let us combat and put an end to human trafficking, let us do it for the future: time is now!

Invitation to the third Mombasa Counter Human Trafficking Symposium

You are invited  to participate in the upcoming Third Mombasa Counter Human Trafficking Symposium for the Faith Based and Grassroots organizations that will be held in Mombasa, Kenya, on the 21st to 23rd of June, 2012.

Engender the 2012 political process. We should choose the right leaders and not be clouded by the tradition which compelled us to choose only male candidates even when they were not meeting the qualities of leadership and betrayed the electorate.

The Conference has traditionally been organized by CEA (Consolation East Africa) a Nairobi based NGO that works to build the capacity of the grassroots and the faith based organizations to address the challenge of human trafficking through the support of Koinonia Advisory Research and Development Service (KARDS) a Nairobi based community development consultancy in collaboration  with Trace-Kenya a Mombasa based organization working to prevent, and protect children and young persons from trafficking for labor and sexual exploitation. This year we are honoured to introduce new partners of the symposium. The first being Solidarity With Women in Distress (SOLWODI), an organization that provides support to women and children driven into the commercial sex industry in Mombasa; Arise and Shine youth group (A&SYG), an organization working to build linkages between the isolated anti trafficking groups across the coastal region;  The Cradle Foundation of  Kenya, a  non-governmental organization committed to the protection, promotion and enhancement of the rights of the child through court representation, advocacy and law reform; and the Kenya Blue Hearts Grassroots Initiative, a network of performing and visual art groups whose mission is to educate the society on human rights and civic responsibilities through art and performances.

The symposium takes cognizance of the fact that this is the year of elections in Kenya. Its main theme is “engendering the electioneering process 2012/2013 in Kenya.” It’s a fact that when the electoral process has problems, violence erupts which leads to gross human rights violations. People lose lives, property, they also become victims of sexual crimes, exploitation and possible human trafficking. It is for this purpose that the symposium will be divided into two. One part will dwell on discussing about the leadership that is responsive to the engendering process that is focused on gender empowerment in Kenya and on the need for peaceful elections.

According to WHO report of 1999, violence against women is an area that is increasingly being recognised as affecting women’s health and autonomy. Violence against women has serious consequences for their mental and physical well-being, including their reproductive and sexual health. If violence against women is tolerated and accepted in a society, its eradication is made more difficult. In extension this violence has direct effect on the children as  in most cases it is extended to them. Tolerating this violence would mean that the society cannot be moved even when the women (and in extension the children) are facing extreme injustices. To solve this peoblem there is a great need to engender the electioneering process and introduce the concept of gender responsive campaigning and ultimately leadership. On the other hand, there is a great need to empower women on their rights so as they may defend them and speak loudly against any acts of violence metted against them during the electioneering time. Women must be encouraged to join politics as direct participartion in policy formulation helps in changing the societal constructs and will help in correcting the past social economic attitudes and injustices metted against them. 

Secondly, the symposium will focus on the conducive tools and environment for an effective reintegration process for trafficked victims. Literature and practices on “reintegration process will be discussed in order to bridge the gap between the literature and the practice.

For more information on the conference and the program please visit the Consolation East Africa Blog here. More info on the symposium here and find the poster here.

Should you wish to receive any further information about the content or as regards logistical arrangements, please do not hesitate to contact us at

consolationeastafrica@gmail.com.

Telephone +254734988713 or 0720812638 or 0720444545 or 0722499302.

Art: Working to Counter Human Trafficking Does not Require Neutrality

By Mike Mungai

Bwana Mdogo Arts uses the the words and the image of Desmond Tutu a Nobel laureate to convey a counter human trafficking message. Follow Bwana Mdogo Arts and other artists against human trafficking by liking their facebook page. Artists sharing this passion too are welcome to join in.

I have thought about our Kenyan and East Africa ladies coming back from Middle East and telling stories of horror. I have always wondered if there are no human rights institutions or organizations in those countries where this is happening. Or if there are human rights institutions, do they care to defend the rights of people coming from poor countries; other races or from other parts of the world? A human rights organization stands above human differences and just focuses on defending human rights and the dignity of the human person. Human rights are universal even in a multi-cultural setting created by the modern globalised world or in a traditional cultural setting. Despite the fact that culture is not universal in nature, the values espoused in the human rights agenda cannot be defined and limited by cultural perceptions. The entry point for human rights is human dignity which is specific to all the persons of the world and has a transcendental value.  Hence subjecting another human being to horrid treatment, slavery or torture is an act against human dignity.

Henceforth, the fight against human trafficking does not require neutrality. The words of  Archbishop Tutu above speak volumes, “if you have chosen neutrality in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Archbishop Tutu represents a great voice against apartheid. After a long struggle apartheid became history. Lets hope that a day will come when TIP will be a thing of the past. And the stories of human agony as a result will come to an end. Aluta continua.
Read more about human rights universality here

Slavery was an old practice yet so new

Find more art against trafficking on facebook here

In this picture Gado recounts a sad story of slave trade before the 19th Century. According to the texts more than 20 million Africans were taken to slavery in other lands. Five times more were killed in the hunt for slavery. The slaves faced horrendous experiences in the hands of their masters. The masters could beat them thoroughly and even kill them. Has the situation changed in modern times? NO! It has not. Today there are many people across the world  in slavery. However some of the sad stories have been the many deaths of those trafficked to the Middle East. It seems that our governments owing to resource paucity cannot adequately protect the citizens. There is need however for more awareness campaigns. The government on the other hand should look at ways to address this problem such as arresting the quack employment agencies.

Great Collaboration in Spreading Awareness Against Human Trafficking in Kenya

Story by Julius Mwangi

Pictures by Bernard Muhia

Bernard Muhia of Kenya Blue Hearts Grassroots Initiative (KBHGI) poses with Sofia Rajab of  The Cradle outside Kenya National Theatre (KNT). The Cradle Children’s Foundation helped in sponsoring  the play.

On 24th March 2012 the play Blue Heart: Joy’s story was finally performed at the Kenya National Theatre (KNT) by the Kenya Blue Hearts Grassroots initiative (KBGHI). This success was achieved mainly as a collaborative efforts between The Cradle Children’s Foundation, (KBHGI), Consolation East Africa (CEA) and Koinonia Advisory Research and Development Service (KARDS) amongst various actors working to address the problem of human Trafficking in Kenya.

One of the many sad scenes: A man grabs Joy forcefully after purchasing her for sexual exploitation

Some scenes of  Blue Hearts: Joy’s Story had earlier been performed in many schools of Nairobi including Amani Precious Blood Primary School and Topmark High School in Riruta and Kawangware areas, Mutuini Educational Center, Braeburn High School and St Hanna High School and other institutions. The KBGHI is an ambitious artistic project that aims to spread awareness against human trafficking in Kenya and possibly East Africa.

School children reading some of the educational materials and posters about human trafficking.

The play was written by Luiz Nzomo a talented playwright. It mixes drama, songs, dances, drumbeats, story telling, moments of reflection and poetry.   The play is about a young orphan girl placed under the care of her aunt. The girl is bright and performs quite well in school. As days pass the aunt experiences fatigue of taking care of Joy… this fatigue is expressed in the form of lack of appreciation and aloofness to joy. The aunt expresses the fact that Joy needs to help her in her business. Joy accepts and mixes both school and helping her aunt to the detriment of her school performance. Joy’s problems do not end there she is later sold into slavery by her aunt and later she becomes a sex slave. Hence each new day to Joy, becomes a new  experience a fresh trauma. The Joy’s story continues where she gets HIV and becomes a drug addict sinking deeper into a sad and miserable life. The poems were made in such a way to take the audience through Joy’s internal struggle, unearthing the sad part of her emotions.

Students awaiting to enter the theatre

The audience is made to reflect on how many other innocent children are subjected to such horrible and miserable life. In order to help the audience out of a deep melancholy the dancers creatively make cheerful coordinated movements that are  creative, magnificent and lovely. The whole drama is a combination of intellect, art and genius.

Politician Brian Weke had also graced the show as part of the audience.

KBGHI will have another performance at KNT in November after the third Nairobi Counter Human Trafficking Symposium. They also intend to take this play in Mombasa and other areas in Kenya in their ambitious awareness campaign against human Trafficking.  Bringing the play to KNT, shows that collaboration amongst actors can help in spreading awareness far and wide. From the play we find that there are many needs that the victims of human trafficking require in order to be able to reintegrate well after their ordeal. Hence prevention is better than cure. On the other hand there is need to educate the masses on procedural law as far as human trafficking is concerned.

Part of the cast after the play A Blue Heart Joy’s Story. From Right, Viona Wamuyu Waweru the poet, Jecinta Wariara, Raphael Oduor, Evans Odongo, Saida and Benta Anyango.— at Kenya National Theatre.

Lastly, the problem of human trafficking remains enigmatic because of lack of quality data and documentation; organizations therefore would need to be very creative. These point was stressed by Sophia the Executive Director of The Cradle and Paul Kisolo the executive director of KARDS.

The show attracted a full house.

In the video below Rafiki Mwafrika have released a new song entitled “Hauwezi Kunitisha we Shetani!

Art: 2012 Politics: Above Tribal Selfishness and Manipulation

Follow Bwana Mdogo Arts and other artists against human trafficking by liking their facebook page. Artists sharing this passion too are welcome to join in.

Whose children will end up in the streets or risk getting trafficked as a result of politically instigated clashes? And whose life will deteriorate into misery in the long run?  No one can escape suffering because of his connection to a particular leader or a particular tribe. On the other hand the pangs of hunger are the same to people of all tribes and deaths are just as painful to people of all tribes.

Today, I reflected about how politicians divide populations along tribal lines to the extent that even friends who are dear to each other are forced to become enemies. 2008, was one of the worst years because even family members who happened to hail from different tribes had to separate and children had to suffer as a consequence. On the other hand we cannot forget the inter-tribal violence, where people got killed, children were left orphaned, schools, churches, business and health centers got burned, transport infrastructure was badly destroyed and so on. I am simply saying there was wanton destruction of life and property.

However after this massive destruction, I ask my self, who was left hurting and suffering?  At the end of the day, it is not the inciters who got hurt but the poor people, the common mwananchi!  He will lack a family because he walked out of it. He will lack a friend because he killed him or hurt him. If he did betray his friend, then he will always be shouldering so much guilt in his heart.  He will lack comfort because he burned everything that could have given him comfort.

On the other hand, I ask how can I be incited against my long term friend? A friend who I was always going to borrow from when the month was in a “tight corner?” By killing my friend, I have condemned his wife and family to misery and I have condemned my heart to guilt. His children could end up in the streets or could end up trafficked. Each and every time I will be seeing those children I will always remember that I murdered or caused someone to be poor.

It is important to know that the politician (Mr. or Ms Mheshimiwa) will not in the long run suffer the consequences of violence even if he comes from your tribe. Just try to imagine what you will go through after acting like a fool <inadequate educational institutions; health centers, food shortages, unemployment e.t.c> . The inciters (waheshimiwa) on the other hand will continue leading uninterrupted comfortable lifestyles: they will go to the best hospitals in the country and abroad, enjoy golf, have homecoming and away parties inviting each other after winning elections, live in the most expensive and secured neighborhoods and their kids go to the most expensive secured schools in the country and abroad.

Art: Mike Mungai. Story: Mike Mungai and Muko Ochanda

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