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Archive for September, 2009

Kenyan Man jumps into the Thames River in the UK

Posted by Administrator on September 30, 2009

The body of  Kenyan man  living in Slough, Berks who jumped into river Thames on Thursday 17th September, 2009 has been released to the family by the coroners.  Mr. Raphael Kabathi Mangae 32, passed away on Thursday 17th September, 2009 after jumping into Thames River at Windsor Thames Bridge. The deceased has been in the UK for several years and he came to study. He is the son of Mr. Faustin Mangae Kabathi and Mrs. Theresa Njeri Mangae who has been living in the US but a now back to Kenya. The deceased is a nephew to Mr. John Gaitho Gichu of Borehamwood, London. Friends and well wishers are meeting for urgent funds to transport the body of Raphael to Kenya at  2 Charlton Close, Slough, Sl1 9HD and also at Woodhouse pub, 230 Woodhouse Road, London N12 0RS as from 7pm to 9pm. Those unable to attend the meetings can send their contributions to the following account number: Natwest Bank, John Gichu Gichu, Account  no. 99001292, Sort Code 602423. For further information please ring John Gaitho Gichu on 07908806036

Earlier Story:

A Kenyan man living in Slough, Berks, has passed away in the UK. Mr. Raphael Kabathi Mangae 32, passed away on Thursday 17th September, 2009 after jumping into Thames River at Windsor Thames Bridge. The deceased has been in the UK for several years and he came to study. He is the son of Mr. Faustin Mangae Kabathi and Mrs. Theresa Njeri Mangae who has been living in the US but a now back to Kenya. The deceased is nephew to Mr. John Gichu Gaitho of Borehamwood, Hertfordshire. Thames Valley Police and Kenya High Commission in UK have been trying to trace the family in vain and it was not until Kenya embassy contacted Mr. Seed on Thursday 24th September, 2009 that it took us few hours to trace the family.  The man was seen jumping into the river by a passer-by who tried in vain  to help the man with  other people. They alerted the police and the police fetched the body out of water. The body is now with the coroners awaiting identification. Windsor Bridge or Windsor Town Bridge, is a road bridge over the River Thames between the towns of Windsor and Eton in the English county of Berkshire. It now only carries pedestrian and cycle traffic, and crosses the Thames just above Romney Lock.

SOURCE: Misterseed.com

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ICC vows poll riots trial

Posted by Administrator on September 30, 2009

Raila Odinga supporter during riots in early 2008  

Suspected perpetrators of weeks of violence following polls in Kenya in 2007 will be tried at the International Criminal Court (ICC), the court says.

The ICC announced the move after Kenya’s government missed the deadline to set up a local tribunal.

Head prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo promised that Kenya would be a “world example” on how to manage violence.

More than 1,300 people died in the worst rioting in decades following the December 2007 presidential election.

Hundreds of thousands were forced to flee their homes over weeks of unrest.

‘Three-pronged’ approach

International mediators led by former UN chief Kofi Annan were brought in to resolve the crisis – and brokered a power-sharing government.

But repeated attempts by mediators to coax the government into setting up a tribunal have came to nothing.

In July Mr Annan handed to the ICC a list of those suspected of orchestrating the violence.

The names on the list have not been made public, but correspondents say they are likely to be prominent politicians and businessmen.

The BBC’s Will Ross, in Nairobi, says some politicians have been widely accused of doing everything possible to evade justice.

But he says the ICC’s statement indicates that is no longer an option.

In an ICC statement, Mr Moreno Ocampo said he supported a “three-pronged” solution to the problem.

He said he would prosecute those who bear the most responsibility for the post-election violence. Other perpetrators would be tried in Kenya, and local officials should also set up a truth commission to examine other events connected to the violence.

“Decisive consultations between the prosecutor [Moreno Ocampo] and the Kenyan principals will take place in the coming weeks. Justice will not be delayed,” said the ICC statement.

Source: www.bbc.co.uk

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Kenyan Economy Grows in Quarter 2, inflation slows

Posted by Administrator on September 30, 2009

By Helen Nyambura-Mwaura

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenya said on Wednesday its economy grew in the second quarter of 2009 after two consecutive quarters of decline, underpinned by a rebound in the tourism sector, while headline inflation eased to 17.9 percent.

Gross domestic product rose 2.1 percent in the second quarter of 2009 from a year earlier after a revised 4.0 percent increase in the first three months of the year, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, second quarter GDP increased 1.5 percent from the first three months of the year — the first quarter-on-quarter increase since the third quarter of 2008.

“There’s a bit of growth happening but what is key is what happens to agriculture,” said Ignitius Chicha, head of treasury at Citi. “If we have sufficient rains as opposed to floods in some areas and drought in others, then it will be good.”

Post-election violence at the start of 2008, recurrent drought and the global crisis have curbed growth in east Africa’s biggest economy. It expanded by a mere 1.7 percent last year from 7.1 percent in 2007.

“Sectoral performances varied considerably with the hotels and restaurants achieving the highest growth of 24.2 percent reflecting a recovery in tourism while the drought caused electricity and water to record the largest contraction of 5 percent,” the statistics office said.

The agriculture and forestry sector, which is mainly dependent on rain, declined 2.7 percent in the second quarter, following a 1.9 percent drop in the same period of 2008.

Despite the relatively better performance in the tourism and construction sectors, growth is largely hinged on farming, which accounts for about 25 percent of GDP.

Meteorologists forecast a mild version of El Nino weather in seasonal rains starting in October. The phenomenon is caused by changing sea temperatures in the Pacific Ocean bringing drought to some places around the world, heavy storms or harsh winters to others.

The government has forecast more robust activity in the fourth quarter and forecasts growth of 3 percent in 2009.

The central bank said last week that while risks to growth had “significantly increased” in 2009, a stimulus package unveiled in the June would spur spending and create jobs, rains would reduce power rationing and higher tea and coffee prices may boost spending.

The bureau of the statistics also reported that the consumer price index rose 1.1 percent in September from a month earlier, leaving the headline year-on-year rate at 17.9 percent, down from 18.4 percent in August.

Core inflation, which excludes food items, also eased to 3.2 percent from 3.5 percent in August, well below the central bank’s 5 percent target.

Food and non-alcoholic drinks prices rose 1.4 percent in September from August, driven by increases in the cost of kale, milk, sugar and cabbages. But there were notable falls in the price of maize flour, onions, tomatoes and potatoes.

Food and non-alcoholic drinks make up 50.50 percent of the consumer price basket. However, this is likely to be reduced when a new series is released next month. Analysts expect the headline inflation rate to drop with the new calculation.

Source: www.reuters.com

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Aaron Ringera Finally Resigns

Posted by Administrator on September 30, 2009

  • Xan Rice in Nairobi
  • guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 30 September 2009 17.55 BST
  • Article history
  • Aaron Ringera
     Aaron Ringera has resigned from Kenya’s anti-corruption committee. Photograph: Khalil Senosi/AP

    The head of Kenya‘s anti-corruption commission resigned today after the country’s parliament rejected his reappointment by President Mwai Kibaki.

    Retired judge Aaron Ringera, whose £20,000 a month salary made him the top-paid civil servant, is widely viewed as having failed to tackle high-level graft and to recover hundreds of millions of pounds in looted funds. His two deputies, who were similarly reappointed without reference to the KACC’s board or parliament, have also quit.

    The resignations are embarrassing for Kibaki, who has a history of making public sector appointments with little reference to the candidate’s suitability. It is also a sign of his diminishing presidential powers, something civil society activists say is essential for the country to move forward.

    With donors piling on the pressure – the US last week listed corruption as one of the reasons for threatening 15 top Kenyan officials with a travel ban – Ringera said he was stepping down in the best interest of the country.

    “He had lost the confidence of public and parliament so he had to go,” said Mwalimu Mati, executive director of Mars Group, an anti-corruption organisation. “It’s a positive step for Kenya, even if the motives of parliament had more to do with politics than fighting graft.”

    Parliament is controlled by opposition politicians, who say that under the coalition government structure Kibaki has an obligation to consult them on key appointments.

    Ringera, who has argued that the KACC does not have sufficient powers, yesterday defended his record, saying that he had recovered about $60m since 2003. Though no senior government official has been successfully prosecuted for corruption during his tenure, Ringera said he had recommended that cases be opened against least 12 MPs. About a quarter of MPs have also been under investigation over inflated mileage claims.

    Source: www.guardian.co.uk

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    Ithaca rallies around tragedy-stricken Kenyan family

    Posted by Administrator on September 30, 2009

    ‘We can really take care of each other in this town’

    By Stacey Shackford
    sshackford@gannett.com

     

    photo 

    SIMON WHEELER / Staff Photo:The Okumu family are finally back in Ithaca after delays while recovering from injuries sustained in a June 20th automobile crash in Kenya that killed Nancy Okumu, Ben’s wife and the mother of their four children. From left, Fiona, 10, Brian 14, Ken’s brother Geoffrey Okumu who is visiting from Kenya to help, Ken Okumu, Elvis, 17, and Registered Nurse Carolyne Khamasi holding Esther, 5.

    If Nancy Okumu could gather her family up in a great big hug, tend to their myriad wounds and send them off with smiles, she surely would.

    But the mother of four was there in spirit only as her broken brood descended into Ithaca, still reeling from the June 22 car accident that claimed her life and changed theirs forever.

    Luckily, her embrace has been replaced by the welcoming arms of the family’s adopted community, which raised more than $20,000 to bring them home.

    There were cheers and tears as the Okumus arrived at Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport on Wednesday, three months after their intended return from a long-awaited trip to Kenya.

    Father Ben Okumu, 42, recalled the immense relief he felt when he got the phone call from Sahara Byrne, whose daughter Bella is a close friend of his 10-year-old, Fiona.

    Confined to bed in an overcrowded Kenyan hospital, his shattered leg lifted in traction, all he could do was worry and wait, helpless to fix a situation quickly spiraling out of control, physically, financially and emotionally.

    “You can’t imagine lying there, having lost your wife, running low on funds, not knowing how this thing is going to work out,” he said. “And then Sahara calls and tells me the amount of contributions that were coming. It was very touching.”

    An environmental economist, Ben is a consultant who does work for the United Nations, trying to apply computer models he developed as a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University for use by agencies like the World Wildlife Federation to promote environmental conservation while stimulating economic development in third-world countries.

    He was meant to start field work in Mexico in August, and had moved his family to a temporary home in Texas in January, while still keeping the Ithaca property they had called home for 10 years. They decided to take advantage of the summer break for a trip to Kenya.

    Ben had not been back to his homeland in six years, and the children in 10. Five-year-old Esther had never been there, and did not know her grandparents or other relatives.

    Not trusting himself to drive on the left side of the road with a manual transmission car, Ben hired a local driver. About a week and a half into their trip, they left at 6:30 a.m. to make the 300-mile drive to his parents’ village. They made it 100 miles.

    Ben nodded off and woke up in hospital about 10 hours later, vomiting blood, his blue suit being cut from his body and his concussed mind muddled in a pain-induced haze.

    “I have no memory at all about how it came to be,” Ben said.

    His left femur was shattered, the foot pierced through by metal. His right arm hung limp by his side, broken at the shoulder, and his tongue was bitten through when his head hit the dashboard.

    Emergency surgery was performed, but he lost so much blood that he spent nearly a month in traction before he was stable enough to undergo further operations. He had another setback when he contracted malaria from a blood transfusion.

    “To me it didn’t really matter; I just wanted to make sure the kids were well taken care of,” he said.

    While Esther emerged unscathed, 14-year-old Brian dislocated one of the lumbar in his spine and 17-year-old Elvis suffered broken femurs. Fiona had to undergo multiple operations on her legs, and subsequent infections led to fears one of them might have to be amputated.

    Ben hardly had time to mourn. His first trip upon release from the hospital was to the morgue where Nancy was being kept, 200 miles away. She, too, had hit her head in the accident. All her ribs had been broken and they punctured her lungs, which led to fatal internal bleeding.

    “When I saw her, I took consolation in the fact that her death had been fast,” he said. “Even if she had survived I don’t think she would have had a comfortable life.”

    He’s still uncertain as to what happened that day other than the Peugeot 405 veered off the road and smashed into a wall. Nor does he know what became of the driver, who suffered injuries similar to Ben’s.

    “All I know is that I have suffered a big loss, and it will take me a long time to recover, if I ever do. Losing a wife of 20 years is not something you can just get over. She is a part of you, and while she is gone, a part of me is dead,” Ben Okumu said.

    He said Nancy was a loving, sacrificing woman who put her own career on hold to support him as the family hopped from England to Ethiopia, Cornell and Columbia so he could pursue his research. Only recently was she able to return to school, enrolling in the nursing program at Tompkins Cortland Community College.

    “It’s not easy to forget a person of that caliber,” he said.

    Her funeral was an emotional one. Elvis delivered a eulogy in which he promised to carry on her legacy. But the reality of the occasion didn’t sink in for Fiona until halfway through the ceremony, when she started weeping and asked to see her mother for one final time. She couldn’t reach the coffin by wheelchair, so she was placed on a mattress and taken there.

    “They opened the coffin and she looked at her mom. From that moment on, she stopped crying,” Ben said.

    Ben is undeniably proud of his children. Given the opportunity, he will gladly brag about Elvis’s prowess in the pool, Brian’s math skills, Fiona’s strength of character and Esther’s singing talents. He said they have done incredibly well so far, and he is determined to remain strong for their benefit.

    “I am like their compass. They look at me and if they see I am happy and smiling, they think everything is all right,” he said. “It would be a lie for me to say that we are out of the woods yet, but I believe we are in the process.”

    He is eager to start earning an income again and needs to do so as soon as possible to cover what could soon become a mounting debt, but currently he cannot walk and can barely type.

    Savings the Okumus set aside before the trip were quickly depleted by the medical expenses, and Ben found out too late that his health insurance did not cover any injuries sustained abroad.

    Those injuries are now considered “pre-existing conditions,” so their treatment may not be covered now that they have returned. The rod in Ben’s shoulder has shifted and must be replaced. With the exception of Esther, all are also facing physiotherapy and extensive dental treatment.

    “You wonder if there’s anything better you could have done. But I don’t think so. I think it’s just bad luck,” he said. “God had a purpose when he spared me. He could have taken me too, but he had mercy. He left one of us to live. I don’t see how the children would have come back without one of us. ”

    Ben said he will be eternally grateful to all who sent contributions and those who helped in other ways after reading about his plight last month in the Ithaca Journal.

    The family was greeted at the airport by staff from the Franziska Racker Center, who helped them into a special disability van provided by Cornell University. They were then transported to the Homewood Suites, which is putting them up at a discounted rate while their Maplewood Drive home is outfitted for their return, with help from the Finger Lakes Independence Center.

    Not only does the home have to be made wheelchair accessible, it will have to accommodate Ben’s brother Geoffrey and a nurse who accompanied them from Kenya. Many of their belongings are in Texas or in storage. While readying the home, it was discovered the furnace had failed, necessitating a costly repair.

    “Everyone that we have ever asked for help has gone so far out of their way to help them. In these hard economic times, without question, people gave more than they could, and more than what you could ever expect,”Byrne said.

    Byrne said several medical providers have offered their services, including orthopedic surgeon Stephanie Roach and physical therapy practice McCune and Ainslie.

    “If there is anything good that has come out of this, it’s seeing that we can really take care of each other in this town,” Byrne said. “I don’t think it would have happened anywhere else but Ithaca.”

    Additional Facts How to help

    Donations, made out to the “Okumu Family Fund” are still being collected at all Tompkins Trust Company branch locations, or through the mail at:

    Tompkins Trust Company
    c/o Sue Lason
    PO Box 460, Ithaca, 14850


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    N.J. teachers show Kenyan educators ways to work with blind students

    Posted by Administrator on September 30, 2009

    By Brent Johnson/For The Star-Ledger

    September 29, 2009, 8:05PM

    Lillian Rankel and Marilyn Winograd boarded a plane last month armed with eight 70-pound suitcases.

    Packed inside was a horde of specialized science equipment: beakers with Braille numbers, talking thermometers that read measurements in electronic voices.

    The New Jersey teachers were headed for Kenya. Their mission: to teach teachers in the impoverished African county how to better educate blind students — without upheaving the curriculum.

    They held a week-long workshop at a high school for the blind there, demonstrating how students without sight can conduct chemistry experiments and learn about physics using touch and simple household items.

    teachers.JPG

    Marilyn Winograd, left, and Lillian Rankel, second from left, teach Kenyan educators ways to work with blind students.

    “We want to raise the expectations of people who are blind,” said Rankel, a science teacher at Hopewell Valley High School in Pennington.

    Rankel and Winograd have spent the past few years spreading that message. They’ve trekked across the U.S., paying their own way to peddle their methods.

    But the 7,000-mile trip to Kenya was the farthest they’ve traveled. There, they say, teachers make little money, and aren’t trained to educate the blind. Very few blind students even attend school there, they say.

    “They go back to their villages and beg for money,” Rankel said.

    Winograd, an Edison resident who spent 27 years as a teacher with the state Commission for the Blind, met Rankel a few years ago while working with a blind student at Hopewell Valley High.

    Rankel, a Pennington resident, never had a student without sight in her science class before. But together, she and Winograd developed ways the boy could participate in experiments using touch.

    The result was the Tactile Adaptation Kit, a collection of science equipment tailored for blind students. Included are magnetic letters to assemble equations. Pipe cleaners to make molecules. A glue gun to paste number markings onto beakers.

    The teachers sold the kits at $149 apiece, using the money to pay for trips to teach their methods at conferences in New York, Philadelphia, Texas and Wisconsin.

    “It’s the teacher in us,” Winograd said. “We realized we had all the information. We needed to share it with other teachers.”

    Then, two years ago, Rankel traveled with a school club to Kenya, and stopped at the Thika High School for the Blind in Keroka.

    She said she learned that the Kenyan government didn’t allow blind students to take chemistry and physics.

    “That’s all Lillian needed to hear,” Winograd said. “She decided to change that.”

    So, she brought the school’s principal to New Jersey to see what blind students are able to learn here. Then, they set up the workshop in Kenya.

    Rankel and Winograd raised $3,000 in grant money from the New Jersey Lion’s Club to buy equipment for the schools.

    When they arrived, they found villages with dirt roads and teachers who had never seen safety goggles.

    Rankel and Winograd taught one experiment where they put Alka Seltzer in a Zip-Lock bag, so blind students can hear and feel the pill dissolving.

    “We had to teach them what a Zip-Lock bag is,” Winograd said of the workshops, attended by 16 Kenyan teachers and administrators. “Not one person in the room had seen one.”
    Apparently, it made an impression.

    “This opened new horizons for us,” Alfred Kamau, principal at Thika, said in a thank-you letter to the teachers. “Already, history has been made, for this is the first workshop in this usually forgotten/ignored area.”

    Now, the pair are working on a book called “Out Of Sight Science Experiments.”

    “You don’t need to be trained as a teacher for the blind to adapt to these methods,” Winograd said.

    © 2009 NJ.com. All rights reserved.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

    Longing and Regret Defines Africans’ experiences in the US

    Posted by Administrator on September 29, 2009

    By RASNA WARAHPosted Monday, September 28 2009 at 16:56

     

    Whenever i hear that a Kenyan living in America is making plans to return home, I am hardly surprised. Being African-American in the United States is hard enough; being a first-generation African must be even harder, not withstanding that the current White House is occupied by people associated with both groups.

    When you are black in America, your dreams fade fast. Wealth and accomplishment do not protect you from everyday insults and suspicion-filled eyes, as a black Harvard professor learned recently when he was arrested for “breaking into” his own home.

    Racism in America is still alive and well, and has perhaps become more so since Barrack Obama became president. Last month, a pastor in a Baptist church in Arizona had the audacity to urge his congregation to pray for Obama’s death!

    The decisions by Africans to return home is often made in an attempt to regain self-respect. Many, however, retain what the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie refers to as a “complicated affection” towards America.

    In Adichie’s new book of short stories, The Thing Around Your Neck, many of the characters – some of whom are undoubtedly based on real people – are Africans who are desperate to belong to an America that constantly rejects them. Some give up parts of themselves – the parts they hold dearest – so that they can fit in.

    I know what that feels like. When I was in America as a student in the 1980s, I spent a lot of time denying my roots. (This desire to assimilate is not just the American people’s greatest strength; it is also their fatal weakness.)

    I tried to mimic the ease with which first-generation immigrants tried to fit in. I once visited an Indian couple whose successful medical practice had enabled them to buy a big house in one of Boston’s wealthier suburbs. It had huge white pillars like the White House, but the house was empty and cold inside.

    There was no smell of food being cooked in the kitchen, or the warmth of human flesh. I was served a cold sandwich. I wondered if they were happy.

    I also visited a nuclear engineer who refused to move out of his slum-like hovel in New Jersey because he was saving every penny to build a house for his family in his village in Gujarat.

    He was nearly 50 years-old and had spent most of his adult life living in a cramped bedsitter, where he dreamed of returning home one day. I have often wondered if he ever made it back.

    I would not be like them, I told myself, when I was still thinking of making a life in America. I would live in a big city like New York or Boston, in a loft where my bedroom window would face skyscrapers.

    My street would be one of those that hum with life all day and all night. I would have breakfast in the corner café and order take-away dinners from the Chinese restaurant down the street.

    would work in a big firm in a tall building that would value my work, and give me a raise and a promotion every two years. I would fall in love – with a white American, of course – and have lovely biracial children who would pass for Italian.

    My parents would come to visit, and I would take them to Florida for a holiday, and they would tell all my relatives back home how well I was doing and how lucky I was to live in America.

    That never happened, of course. My life took a completely different trajectory. But as I look back now, I wonder whether I too would have headed back home.

    At what point would i have had to confront my demons and admit that I really did not belong—and that I would never be truly accepted? Would I be like one of Adichie’s characters, full of regret, longing and sorrow?

    Or would I end up writing books such as The Thing Around Your Neck, which, like most post-colonial literature, aims to deconstruct colonial representations of “the African” but in the process manages to bind Africa and the West even more tightly together?

    Would I have become one of those transplanted writers who tailor their writings for white Western readers in the hope that their books will be awarded prizes in the “New African Writers” category?

    I’ll never know. What I do know is that in trying to be accepted by white America, I would have had to deny my unique heritage and give up parts of my soul.

    SOURCE: DAILY NATION

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    Couple to be jailed for ‘indecent acts’

    Posted by Administrator on September 29, 2009

    An Omani man and Kenyan woman were sentenced to six-month imprisonment and subsequent deportation for “indecent acts in public.”
    A policeman told a Doha court of first instance that he found a car in suspicious circumstances in Izghawa area around 4.15am on June 24 last year.
    “I saw a bare-chested man and a half-nude woman in a compromising position, both in the driver’s seat. The man smelled of alcohol,” he said.
    The two suspects denied the charges. The Omani, 29, was handed down an additional two-month imprisonment for drunkenness.
    The Kenyan woman, 27, was deported on the basis of an administrative order before the commencement of the trial.

    Source: Gulf Times

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    Kenyan Man Gives Back

    Posted by Administrator on September 29, 2009

    By: Kate Monohan

    Posted 09/29/2009

    Kennedy Odede, a 25-year-old who grew up in the Kibera slum outside of Nairobi, Kenya, grew up seeing poverty, death and a brutal patriarchy that led to rape, HIV/AIDS and prostitution every day. Living in a 10-by-10 foot hut in the largest slum in Africa, and the second largest slum worldwide, he longed for more – not just for himself, but also for those in his neighborhood.

    “Kibera is my slum, Kibera is my home, Kibera is my life,” Odede said. “I walked everyday on the streets until I keeled and fell down […] I see murders, I see them.”

    Odede co-founded The Kibera School for Girls in August with Jessica Posner, a Wesleyan alumna who aided Odede in applying to Wesleyan two years ago. Posner has studied abroad in Kenya and met Odede while there.

    “The one thing we need in this place is education, because education is the only way that poverty can change,” Odede said.

    In 2005 Odede founded an organization called Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) to help uplift the Kibera community. Later, he and Jessica sought funding from various organizations to help achieve their goal of building a community center and school for girls in Kibera.

    In Kibera, 66 percent of girls are prostitutes by the age of 16, according to SHOFCO’s Web site. Some girls begin prostitution as early as age 6. One of every five children in Kibera dies before the age of 5.

    “We wanted to build them [girls in Kibera] a space that they could speak without their minds being strict,” Odede said, explaining that girls in Kibera need to think “outside the box” in order to contribute to society. He added that a classic example of the patriarchy in Kenya was in his own mother, who he said had no potential for success.

    “There was nowhere she could be listened to, in this society [women] do not speak,” Odede said. “It’s something, I think, is culturally dominant.”

    The Kibera School for Girls is the only public school in Kibera, because the government sees the area as an illegal settlement and doesn’t provide the area with proper resources, according to information on SHOFCO’s Web site.

    The school, which opened in August, was a dream that Odede had been hoping for for a long time, he said, and he was thrilled when it finally became a reality.

    “Public education is something that most people just never even think about as a possibility in Kenya,” Posner said.

    The school has 45 female students in preschool through first grade, and is now up-and-running, Posner said. The school will grow with the students, adding grades as the girls get older, she said. The hope is that eventually the school will supply education through the eighth grade, she added.

    “We’re hoping that the school can be a model that we could take and adapt to other situations,” Posner said.

    Posner and Odede worked with American Friends of Kenya (AFK), a Norwich-based non-profit organization that works closely with Kenyans to help prevent and treat HIV/AIDS and promote education among children.

    Odede and Posner will be joined Wednesday by Marcel and Bethe Dufresne, a husband and wife reporting team, who chronicled the efforts of SHOFCO and AFK for The Hartford Courant, to share their story with the UConn community. The talk is called “Continents Together,” and will also be attended by the founders of AFK, Wayne and Emely Silver.

    Marcel Dufresne, an associate professor of journalism at UConn, hopes that students that attend the talk will learn not to take their lifestyle for granted, and that there are many organizations available for young people to join that make an impact on others’ lives.

    “We had one young guy on the trip who was 17-years-old and he was going to be a college freshman, and this just opened his eyes, I think, to how much of the world lives,” Dufresne said. “And I don’t think he’ll ever be the same as a result of it.”

    Dufresne was the primary photographer on the trip, as his wife, Bethe, did most of the writing, he said. Seventeen of their photos will be on display in the hallway of Konover Auditorium in the Dodd Center until Oct. 14. The photos have lengthy captions that tell many of the stories that he and his wife witnessed while in Kibera this August.

    “From a standpoint of a campus community, I do think there is a lot at this talk for people from across the campus,” he said.

    There will be information about developing countries’ problems, issues with how American aid is used in Africa and what Americans can do to help people like those that live in the slums of Kibera, he said.

    “There’s a lot of volunteer work that people can do here, and if people are also interested in going to Kenya, we’re also really interested in having volunteers at the school,” Posner said.

    The school includes a “holistic approach to community uplift,” Posner said.

    The project also included a community center, garden and library and provides after-school programs, health programs and many other resources for the people of Kibera, Posner said. This means that students not interested in teaching are also needed to volunteer, she said.

    Posner and Odede are watching the school’s progress from a distance, as the community has taken ownership of it now, Odede said. They have plans to return this summer.

    “The community members own the school … the school will belong to them forever,” he said.

    Odede’s new dream? To share his experiences in Kibera with those in other slums and to help others rise from poverty to have a voice in their community, he said.

    “When I was in Kibera seeing the innocent dying from the sprayed bullets by the Police men,” Odede writes in his personal blog. “My heart jump out and I wanted to die with my people. I saw a baby playing not understanding the politic in country and he was an humble baby but he met the bullet on the way. Oh God, what’s happening under the sun? Where are the Angels? Now we need them.”

    For more information on how you can help, http://www.Hopetoshine.org

    Source: The Daily Campus

    Posted in Kenya | Comments Off on Kenyan Man Gives Back

    Kenyan Officials May Be Regretting the Obama Connection

    Posted by Administrator on September 29, 2009

    U.S. policy towards Africa has been fairly muted in the first nine months of the Obama Administration. Aside from Obama’s speech in Ghana and Hillary Clinton’s whirlwind tour of the continent, there has been little beyond rhetoric coming from Uncle Sam. As with many other policy areas, including domestic ones, government agencies such as the State Department and AFRICOM are still working to develop their tailor-made policies for the new administration.

    Officials however, have certainly shot out of the gate in dealing with Kenya. Whether it is Obama’s personal link to the country or possibly that a clear policy framework has already been decided on, the U.S. has been much more assertive in its Kenya strategy. Just last week, a letter signed by the U.S. assistant secretary of state and U.S. ambassador to Kenya, was sent to fifteen politicians of the Kenyan government threatening to impose travel bans if the officials do not work to promote political reforms and seek justice for the January 2008 post-election violence. The call comes as Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo said he would notify the ICC that Kenya would not be administering tribunals to try suspects of Kenya’s post-election violence (a number of whom are government officials). President Mwai Kibaki has since sent a letter directly to President Obama expressing his displeasure at the U.S.’ strongly worded stance.

    Compared to how the U.S. administration has dealt with less-than-friendly nations such as Iran, Venezuela and North Korea (with whom Obama has struck a more conciliatory tone) such a hard-nosed approach to Kenya seems odd. But in fact, the administration’s Kenya policy fits quite predictably into a greater foreign policy framework. It turns out that Obama only adheres to Kissinger’s Realpolitik when dealing with such aforementioned states that are in ideological opposition to the U.S. He uses the proverbial ‘stick’ when his legitimacy is high and a practical ‘carrot’ in situations where it is lacking (for example his June speech addressing the Islamic world at Cairo University). Unlike Bush, the more his words are respected the more comfortable he is with using them as a tool to push for action.

    Although the American administration may be acting with good intention, such a policy could easily strain relations with an important regional U.S. ally. Kenya’s strategic value lies in its proximity to southern Somalia and the Indian Ocean shipping lanes while also serving as a hub for East African trade and a center for American intelligence operatives—qualities that only increase in importance as the situation in Somalia continues to deteriorate and as East Africa moves towards greater regional economic integration.

    In addition, transitional “justice” may not be what Kenya needs work past its problems. In fact, a crusade for justice will only play into the hands of ‘victimized’ ethnic factions scrambling for reparations in the form of political power. The U.S. should look at South Africa and Rwanda to see that sometimes, forgiveness for past crimes and a focus on institutional legitimacy goes further in the quest to build a capable state. By focusing more on good governance and battling corruption than on subjective forms of justice, the administration has a better chance of stabilizing Kenya in the long term.

    Even so, certain questions should be clarified before the U.S. goes any further with this strategy. Kenyan politicians will not concede to reform if they believe there is a chance that they will be punished in the end by an ICC tribunal. Specifically, how does the administration differentiate between blocking reform and political deliberation? And what are its benchmarks for reform? The importance placed on such policy details by the U.S. should not be relegated to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    It will be worth following whether the Obama Administration’s tactic pushes Kenyan politicians to concede to U.S. demands (and if so, how these demands are defined) or if it will merely break Kenya’s Obama honeymoon. If this is part of a greater framework for how Obama will operate on the international stage, it will be an interesting lithmus test.

    SOURCE: http://www.independent.co.ug

    Posted in Kenya | Comments Off on Kenyan Officials May Be Regretting the Obama Connection

     
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