Tegla Loroupe Encourages Former Street Children

Story by Julius Mwangi

Tegla Loroupe (Second from right) the world renowned athlete and a peace advocate graced the Amka Album Launch organized by the children of Ndugu Mdogo Rehabilitation Center (NMRC) in Kibera. NMRC is rehabilitation center started by Koinonia Community. She gave a very important message of peace and encouragement to all the children in attendance.

Tegla Loroupe a record holding Kenyan world athlete and the founder and director of the Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation graced the launch of the Amka Kenya album on Saturday 27th April 2012. The event was also graced by politicians, the government officers, schools and scores of organizations working with the children. The former Kenyan Gold Medalist Athlete had very special and encouraging words for the children. Loroupe holds the world records for 20, 25 and 30 kilometres and previously held the world marathon record. She is the three-time World Half-Marathon champion. She was the first African woman to win the New York City Marathon, which she has won twice. She has won marathons in London, Boston, Rotterdam, Hong Kong, Berlin, Rome and many of other cities.

She began by telling children that she was pleased and honored to listen to their powerful messages of peace. She also had a very important message for the former street children

“We should not let our bad past history hold us from the dream of becoming better citizens of this country.  We should not also let poverty or hardships hold us back from our determination to become better and also to better the society we live in. In some of  you children I see Kenya’s future president, I see doctors, professors, athletes, artists and business people. I see a successful Kenya of the future in you!”

She narrated to the children about her background which had so many setbacks. She however believed in the struggles and in the dreams she had for herself. The starting was never easy and nothing has ever been easy however believing in the hope of a better tomorrow makes all the heavy burdens lighter. In her speech she indicated that she had listened keenly to every message the children conveyed to the society through their poems, skits, songs, dances and mostly through their new Amka Kenya Album.

The Ndugu Mdogo children choir with their campaign Amka Kenya. This message conscientizes on civic responsibilities and the need t create a culture of peace and integration.

Peace is the only condition that could make Kenya be better developed than it is now. “It does not matter how rich or poor we are, if there is no peace then the prospects of development are nil. That is the beginning of human rights abuses. We have a duty to protect our country by working for peace!” She told the children that she had travelled across the world and has gone to Europe, America, Australia and so on and each and every time she visits those places she observes with wonder at all the developments they have made. Despite these observation, the concern that always strikes her mind is to find the answer to the question “why do we as Kenyans fight amongst ourselves; and why do we destroys the harmony of our own Nation?” As we move to the future, Tegla advised that the children should not allow to be poisoned to start despising people from other tribes and ethnic communities. “Well my children, ethnicity can be a great resource to promote social justice. Sometimes it has not been used well. As you grow up do not allow yourselves to become unjust to people who are not from your ethnic community. This injustice is the cause of violence. Try to find a way to always love the others just as you would your own father, mother, brother or sister. A Kenya full of loving and caring people is a healthy Kenya and as a result of this it will be blessed with development.”

Tegla had a strong message to the parents. She told them “Families have a responsibility to build peace at their homes, in their families and they should always love one another, to embrace each other. Those strong in the family have a responsibility to help the weak and the invalids.”  She recognized that families are passing through difficult moments because of economic hardships and the pressures of post modernism which have had the adverse effect on the traditional family structure. “Families should not allow to be defeated by these adversities. Every adversity has in it some seeds of equivalent advantage. Hence these adversities should not tear families apart but help them become more unified. This unity and working harder will make us be able to take care of our children. Hence they will get the best values first and foremost in the families.”

Turning back to children, Tegla reminded them again that they should arm themselves with love. She said, good leaders are those who forgive and forget and move on to create better solutions for the society. Africa is going to experience a transformation in the future if all children  focused on love instead of the despondency that has characterized the society today. Infact I am more optimistic of the future where you children will correct the wrongs made by we your parents.” She went ahead and urged the children not to accept to be used by people who have bad motives. They should refuse to be involved in either taking or peddling drugs and any other forms of activities that will end up ruining their lives. She also told the children to teach their parents, friends and teachers the meaning of love and peace. The children should carry around a message that Kenya is better of if peaceful. She then advised the children not to forget to build their talents. “The talents are a special gift God has given to each and everyone of us. It does not matter whether you are poor or rich, a street child or a child of the palace. We are all equal and we all have the ability to be what we want to be if we believe in ourselves. God will always do His part; hence  if one of you has an athletic talent, let him  run and run, and if anyone can play foot ball, then play it, and if you can sing then sing. Your talents have a unique message to the creation.” She finished by thanking Koinonia and all the organizations in front line of assisting and supporting the street children of Kenya be reintegrated back to the society.

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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

The Third Mombasa Counter Human Trafficking Symposium for the Faith Based and Grassroots Organizations in East Africa

Follow this link to the programme

Dates: 21st  to 22nd June 2012

Venue: To be Communicated

Theme: Reintegration of the victims of human Trafficking

Organizers: CEA and Trace Kenya

The ideal image of the reintegration environment for a victims that has passed through the pain of human trafficking.  All the societal structures working to promote total internal healing and helping the victim to find easy reintegration back to his new or former society.

Trafficking in persons in the region is now publicly seen through the eyes of the returnees from Middle East. This follows the current media attention to the circumstances of Kenyan women working there. Through unscrupulous labor agents young women are lured into skewed labor contracts in the Middle East. Once they reach their work destinations the come to realize that they must repay their travel, accommodation and upkeep. It does not end there, and slavery is the condition they find themselves in. If they do not manage to find help, then they may end up maimed or they may even die. The most vulnerable people are those from poor backgrounds. As any promises of employment creates in them a hope to find resources to help their families out of their present misery and get additional income.

Human trafficking victims are exposed to deep trauma through their entire ordeal. The physical and psychological consequences of violence control and abuse inherent to human trafficking are extremely serious; regardless of the sector into which trafficking occurs. It can take the victims a long time to recover from the trauma and be able to remember their experiences without pain or anxiety. Human trafficking is not merely a concern of the victims and their families but of society at large as it has direct and indirect ramifications on development. The abuse and trafficking of children, in particular, have severe consequences both at individual and communal level, undermining the personal development of the children and also bringing serious problems to the entire communities and state security.

Working towards the reintegration of the victims is a great challenge within the society today. As a victim moves deeper through the human trafficking chain so do the reintegration needs become complex.  Organizations on the other hand have to work to ensure that the trafficking victims can be assisted to reintegrate through the legal tools, social and psychological support and through other creative means.

The third counter human trafficking symposium for the grassroots and the faith based organizations will explore the issue of reintegration in depth. The symposium will be held from the 21st to 22nd of June, 2012. This symposium amongst other aims will hope to fulfill the following objectives:

  • Share knowledge, skills and experiences from different FBOs, CSOs and grassroots on practices used to reintegrate the victims of human trafficking
  • Explore other potential innovative programmes and resources that could aid the process of reintegration.
  • Contextualizing reintegration of the trafficked victims in legal, economic and psycho social scenarios
  • Promoting social networking amongst counter human trafficking organizations.

Other conferences here

Please contact +254720444545/0722499302  or consolationeastafrica@gmail.com for more info.

Former Street Children to Launch A Music Album in Nairobi

The former street children singing their hearts out. Our Father who art in heaven bless all the children including those on the streets and help them not to dispair but to hang onto hope of a better tomorrow. The children’s message to the society is that “we too are children and do not understand many things just like all other children. We hence need love, care and accompaniment.”  Thanks to their trainer George Ndikwe, the children have perfected their voices.

Friday the 27th of April former street children will be launching a music album entitled “Amka Kenya.” This event is scheduled to start at 9.30 and end at noon courtesy of Ndugu Mdogo Home, one of Koinonia’s children projects in Nairobi. There are no charges  and all people are invited to this important occassion. The children in this album have performed in various platforms and their main aim is to give encouragement to fellow children passing through life difficulties or also to help Kenyans know that social integration and love can triumph even in the midst of so many temptations to believe that the contrary is true. These children’s main aim is to affirm the triumph of love, courage and kindness over selfishness.

THE GREAT CHOIR: The children from Ndugu Mdogo sing their hearts out during the Red Carpet Event in Nairobi on 10th December 2011

The theme song Amka Kenya is a new composition created with the participation of the children, on the need for Kenyans to shun violence, tribal divide, political incitements and instead focus on national cohesion, informed choices of leaders and peace building initiatives, as the Nation prepares for the next General Election.

 The Album contains 9 songs from the rarely heard voices of the most vulnerable in the society. With their voices the former street children want to deliver a message of peace and unity. Amka Kenya is an invitation to all Kenyans to stand up for justice, peace and integral human development.

During the launch the children of Mdugu Mdogo and other Koinonia Homes will also  demonstrate their artistic talents in music, dancing, poetry and acrobatics, proving  to  all that despite the challenges they’ve gone through, they have a wealth of talents that they want to put at the service of a peaceful and just society.

For more information kindly contact George 0725377623

Street Children: Does Not Hurt to Care

Artistic illustration by Mike Mungai (Bwana Mdogo Arts),    Story by Sammy Mwangi.  Other stories on the same occassion here

12th April 2012 marked the International Day of Street Children. This is a day set purposely to listen to an important constituent of the world citizens. It is a day when millions of youth and children around the world living in the streets are raising their voices requesting to be heard, listened and noticed. The voices of these youth and children is so compelling despite serious deprivation, poverty, family violence and disfuctionality, neglect, lack of education amongst many other challenges. Street children in many ways pass through to adulthood without having enjoyed their childhood even for a moment.

During this Day, Maisha Poa a Dagorretti based rehabilitation organization in collaboration with Consolation East Africa and the members of the  Kenya Blue Hearts Grassroots Initiative amongst other organizations  organized events that exposed the plight of street children in Kenya. The event was attended by members of the public, NGOs, FBOs, policy makers and the street youth and children themselves. It was a day when there was a great communion amongst the street people and the other members of the society.There was great entertainment too from the children and other artistic groups in the society. At the end of the day, the community did make some great reflections about the plight of these children. At least something positive has started taking place.

Our African culture, our faiths and laws  lay strong foundations for protecting our children. The 1st and 2nd Millenium development goals are important in the lives of street children, as for the talk on eradication of poverty and hunger and achievement of free basic education are the key things. The government, local administration, faith based organizations, charitable organizations and other organizations that have transformed many street children into responsible citizens through rescue, rehabilitation, education and reintegration in the societies/ families. This is in fulfillment of a greater purpose of caring for orphans, vulnerable and homeless children.

However the challenge is still big. It is believed that at least each day, there is a new child joining the streets. According to various studies estimates the number of street children inKenyahas been  approximated to be between 200,000 to 300,000 whereby about 60,000 to 70,000 of these children were in Nairobi. In 2007 the number was still constant at 300,000 but the number of children had reduced to 60,000.  A research conducted in 2009 by UN  revealed that the number of street children had increased nationally to 700,000. The problem has increased due to factors such as domestic violence, separation, divorce, HIV/AIDS deaths leaving children as orphans and children suffering.

Images of street children are common place in Dagoretti constituency, that’s from Kenyatta Market  to Dagoretti Market, from Gatina to Kabiria. It is ironical that in environment of free primary education era, hundreds of these children continue to suffer.

The Dagoretti Action against Gender Based Violence (GAABV) has been bringing stakeholders together and trying to advocate for the rights of these children. Hence more needs to be done in order to assist children who are abused at home or in the institutions either emotionally, physically, psychologically and sexually. If these abuses are not addressed, these children will certainly find a ‘difficult solace in the streets. It therefore suffices to say that most of the children in the streets have suffered some form of violence at home or in other institutions that were supposed to provide care and support to them.

There is hence a need for bigger collaboration. All actors working with the children need to come together to protect children and youths whose lives are destroyed by drugs, other forms of addictions, violence and exploitation. Drugs are surest way to introduce them to crime. On the issue of crime many street youths have met their early deaths by being involved in crime. The children have also been meted great violence by either the public or the law enforcement agencies.  A great concern therefore emerges to educate both the public and the law enforcers to use on non-violent ways of handling street children. Treating these children badly has the effect of later on turning them into rogue criminals. Infact, since these children need attention like any other, small acts of love may help them a lot to heal some of their past and their daily on going emotional wounds and traumas.

Constituency development funds, Nairobi City Council, Ministry of Youth and Sports, the police department, Ministry of Gender and Children, religious institutions and the community  can work together to rescue children living in the streets. Many of them have dropped out of school or have finished primary schools and have few life  options. As stated in the Vision 2030, not empowering the youths is a recipe for crime and violence. Dagoretti community has the capacity to help every vulnerable child. Both private and public schools need to open their doors unconditionally for street and out of school children to receive education. Great initiatives such as the Street Families Rehabilitation Trust Fund (SFRTF), Constituency Bursary Fund or Secondary Education and other types of initiatives are certainly moves in the right direction towards reducing the vulnerability of these children.

Street children and youth have the right to health like other children and youth, right to belong to a family, right to develop their dreams and talents, to have life skills. These children and youth have many talents. Most of them are talented acrobats, sportsmen, musicians, photographers and if nurtured they could be skilled and become competent doctors, engineers, teachers, policemen and leaders who can contribute to the growth of our country.

With strong networks and greater collaboration “Louder Together” we can achieve the dream of having ZERO children forced to live in the streets of Kawangware, Dagoretti and inKenyaat large therefore RESTORING HOPE to many.

Africa Gets a Second Female President

April 11, 2012 (CISA)

The President of Malawi Her Excellency  Joyce Banda. According to a story in the Nation Online of 13th April 2012, the new president was shaped in Kenya. She came to interact with gender activist who were concerned on the deplorable gender relations that were the subject of activism.

Following the sudden death of Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika last Thursday, Vice President Joyce Banda was sworn into office, making her the second female President in Africa.

President Bingu wa Mutharika died from cardiac arrest. His death was officially confirmed Friday after a day of denials.
According to Global information Network, the new President has received international and national awards for her support of women’s rights. She also becomes the third most powerful female politician after Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson and Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela.
After her swearing-in, Mrs Banda began house cleaning, purging allies of the former president. “Although we are in mourning, certain decisions cannot wait,” Banda told a news conference in the capital Lilongwe, three days after taking office.
She also announced an investigation into the mysterious murder of student activist Robert Chasowa. Mutharika’s critics have accused police of staging a hit against Chasowa, implicating former police chief Peter Mukhito, who was sacked on Monday.
“As a mother, I feel for my fellow mother who doesn’t know what killed her son. I understand how painful it is, and I will make sure we find out who killed our son Chasowa,” Banda said.
She also sacked the head of the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, Bright Malopa, another Mutharika ally who used state media to campaign against her.
The new director general is Benson Tembo, a veteran broadcaster and former diplomat whose last posting was as ambassador to Zimbabwe.
“With the swearing in of the new President, Joyce Banda, before the Chief Justice, Lovemore Munlo, to the representatives of the Judicial Court and Parliament, and after 26 rounds of cannon and the salute of the military Guard, Malawi peacefully resolved a transfer of power in a time of great tension in the Country “, wrote Fr Piergiorgio Gamba to Fides, a Monfortan missionary who has been working in Malawi for decades.
“Now it is of extraordinary importance to get out of the international isolation in which Malawi was forced to live in by the previous government, as well as ensuring an economic recovery that brings hope to a country ravaged by profoundly dull and outdated political decisions “says Fr Gamba.

A Sad Story from a Victim of Human Trafficking from Saudi Arabia

Story by Nation 9th April 2012

Another victim of human-trafficking, who was lured to Saudi Arabia with promises of a well-paying job, returned home early this week with tales of tribulations and suffering.

 Ms Jane Wanjiku narrated to the Nation how her Saudi Arabian boss turned her into a slave by forcing her to work for long hours without a break and subjecting her to inhuman treatment.

Ms Wanjiku first heard of well-paying job opportunities in Saudi Arabia through a friend, who introduced her to agents in Nairobi. A deal was struck for Ms Wanjiku to take up a job as a caretaker for a disabled child.

Repay the expenses

Two weeks after leaving Nairobi for Saudi last December 28, she found the conditions unbearable but her boss rejected her plea to return home on grounds that she had to repay the expenses they had incurred on her.

“I wanted to come back because it was too much for me but they refused. I spoke to the agent and they took me to another home”, the 47-year-old told the Nation on Monday.

Although she thought the move would bring reprieve, it turned out to be a plunge from the frying pan to the fire.

She said her hopes crushed upon realisation that food was laced with drugs just like in her previous work place. Matters became even worse because she was forced to eat the food.

“They urged me to eat, saying it was important for my health but I realised the food was laced with drugs. I had no option and ate a little food,” the mother of four said.

She claimed her food was always served from a different tray which made her suspect a sinister motive.

She then sought the help of a local woman for interpretations of Arabic, which her employer’s family spoke and realised they intended to kill her.

“The woman told me they wanted to kill me because I was too inquisitive. They thought I would narrate my tribulations and that could possibly spoil their market,” Ms Wanjiku claimed.

It is for that reason that she believes her life is still in danger after unknown people allegedly trailed her on Sunday upon arrival back to Kenya.

But when contacted, Al-Kaki Enterprises & Travel manager Julius Kimemia (the agents recruiting the domestic workers) denied the allegations, saying she was flown back to the country purely on medical grounds.

“I talked to the woman yesterday (Sunday) when she was still at the airport and she said she was unwell. I don’t have any information regarding those claims, but we will look into them,” Mr Kimemia told the Nation on phone.

 

 

But even as Mr Kimemia insisted Ms Wanjiku was never assaulted, she revealed bruises and injuries on her body to indicate that she had been tortured.

 Ms Wanjiku claimed to have become unconscious for several hours one day after being forced to eat food laced with drugs only to wake up with pain in her stomach. She said her health has deteriorated since.

But the worst experience for Ms Wanjiku was when she was locked up in a roof-less room without food for three days.

“That is when I contemplated committing suicide. I prayed to God for it was all I could do,” she said. She jumped through a small window into the next building from where police took her to hospital. It was while at the hospital that the host family coordinated her return journey.

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