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Archive for February 18th, 2011

Kenyan native returns home after detainment

Posted by Administrator on February 18, 2011

Caroline Todd comes home to her family on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011, after spending two years in a detention center for illegal immigrants in Louisiana. The family learned Wednesday that she would be coming home to stay. (Montgomery Advertiser, Amanda Sowards)

Caroline Todd comes home to her family on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011, after spending two years in a detention center for illegal immigrants in Louisiana. The family learned Wednesday that she would be coming home to stay. (Montgomery Advertiser, Amanda Sowards)

ATHENS — MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) The moments leading up to Caroline Todd’s surprise, and sudden, return home after more than two years of detainment were filled with a series of small, everyday occurrences.

John, a lively 10-year-old, and his older brother Brandon, who has become a teenager in her absence, sat absorbed in a television show and completely unaware that their mother was just miles away from their Montgomery home.

Their father, Thomas, stood on the porch waiting anxiously and periodically tearing up while talking about the absence of his wife and the painful uncertainty of their future that existed just days before this moment.

“I learned that miracles do happen. A husband and a wife who truly love each other can survive anything, and we never gave up hope,” Thomas said, overcome with emotion.

Minutes later, a “thud, thud, thud” could be heard as Brandon practiced soccer against the front door ‚Äî a violation of the house rules, as dad sternly reminded him. Still minutes later, the two brothers could be heard screaming, sending dad back into the house. Then, the dog got out of the backyard and had to be recaptured.

But those ordinary, unspectacular experiences of home are taking on new meaning in the Todd residence.

Caroline Todd, a 39-year-old native of Kenya who has been in the U.S. since 1990 and who married an American man in 1996, had exhausted the channels to stay in America and was scheduled to be deported no later than March 1.

Todd was convicted of two counts of perjury for incorrectly answering two questions on federal forms . One was an employment form and the other was part of her application for permanent residence. She has said the errors were made innocently.

Todd, who has no prior convictions, was sentenced to three years of probation. She was held at the LaSalle Detention Facility, a central Louisiana facility for detained immigrants, as she waited for either deportation or the return home.

The judge over her case denied her request to stay in the country, but Caroline Todd was released Thursday morning and allowed to return home to her family. It appears that travel documents needed from the Kenyan government never arrived, according to family friend Charlotte Robertson.

Caroline Todd hugs her sons Brandon (left) and John on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011, after spending two years in a detention center for illegal immigrants in Louisiana. The family learned Wednesday that she would be coming home to stay. (Montgomery Advertiser, Amanda Sowards)

Caroline Todd hugs her sons Brandon (left) and John on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011, after spending two years in a detention center for illegal immigrants in Louisiana. The family learned Wednesday that she would be coming home to stay. (Montgomery Advertiser, Amanda Sowards)

Caroline Todd, whose Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church community rallied behind her, did not know until Thursday morning that she was going home. That means when she walked into her Forrest Hills neighborhood home Thursday evening, she had only known the news for a little more than 12 hours.

“It’s a miracle. Really, there are no other words. If there was any doubt (in God) at all, this should clear it up. He is faithful. We just have to patient, we have to hold on, and we have to believe,” Caroline Todd said shortly after being released Thursday morning.

When Caroline Todd embraced her family Thursday evening in their living room, it had been more than two years since she had physically touched any of them. As a detainee, she was only allowed to visit them with a plate of glass between them.

And to be sure, they hugged one another like loved ones who had not touched in years. The four held a tearful and tight group hug for several minutes after Advertisement

Caroline Todd quietly slipped through the front door and back into their lives.

“It’s like I’m in a dream,” she said. “I’m home.”

It did not take long for those simple, common moments of home life to pick back up. After the boys showed mom the trophies won through their various athletic endeavors, there was talk of what should be eaten for dinner and who would sign off on forms needed for school.

Now that their nightmarish experience is over, Caroline Todd will get her work permit and resume the effort to achieve U.S. citizenship but this time they will do so with the aid of an attorney. But for now, her more immediate plans include making after-school brownies and cupcakes for her children.

Source: http://enewscourier.com/statenews/x253818470/Kenya-native-returns-to-family-after-detainment

Related: http://habarizanyumbani.jambonewspot.com/2009/11/30/a-woman-struggles-against-the-system-to-remain-in-america/


Posted in Immigration | 3 Comments »

Caught Unawares by an Anti-Immigrant Mood

Posted by Administrator on February 18, 2011

FALLS CHURCH, Va. — When Mohamed Mejri, a Tunisian immigrant with a limousine business here, first learned that the State Department of Motor Vehicles had refused to issue him a new driver’s license, he thought it was a mistake. After all, he had been a licensed driver in Virginia for years.

But last fall, the department stopped accepting his federally issued work permit, a document that was his main proof that he was in the country legally, because he does not have a green card.

Now, five months later, his business is collapsing, and bill collectors are calling.

Virginia changed its policy in September after an illegal immigrant from Bolivia was charged with hitting and killing a nun while driving drunk in Prince William County.

Her death hardened what was already a strong anti-immigrant mood in the state. Virginia’s governor, Bob McDonnell, announced that work permits would no longer be accepted as proof of legal residence because they could be held by people who, like the Bolivian immigrant, are in deportation proceedings. The governor said other documents would still be accepted.

The permit, called the employment authorization document, allows foreign nationals to work in the United States. Asylum seekers, refugees and students are among those who have one.

For Mr. Mejri, who is 54, the permit is all he has. He fled Tunisia in 1992, and after living in Canada, where he had been granted political asylum, he came to the United States in 2000. American immigration authorities rejected his application for asylum, over an unpaid fine in Canada. By the time it was paid and processed, several years had passed, and he received notice that it was too late to reapply. He then received an administrative order to leave the country, but a federal judge ruled in his favor that he not be deported. Now he is in limbo, in the country legally but without any path to citizenship.

Melanie Stokes, a spokeswoman for Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles, said she could not comment on Mr. Mejri’s status because state law prevented her from discussing individual cases.

The precise number of people affected by the change is unknown. Jorge Figueredo of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia said he was personally handling 38 cases, and estimated that the total number of stranded immigrants could be in the hundreds.

The authorities said the numbers were much smaller. In a letter to a group of lawyers and immigrant advocacy organizations in January, the commissioner of motor vehicles, Richard D. Holcomb, said that in the 11 weeks after the policy was implemented, about 4,000 applicants entered an “elevated review process,” a reference to people who used to rely on the employment card. Of those, only 819 did not immediately get a license, the letter said.

By early December, more than 60 percent of those people had received a license using other documents, he wrote, and an additional 3 percent were rejected, mostly because they were in deportation proceedings.

Mr. Figueredo, the state A.C.L.U.’s director of racial justice and immigrants’ rights, said he was not satisfied with the response, adding that the letter did not explain what became of the more than 200 applicants who were neither rejected outright nor given licenses.

“What about the rest?” he said in his small office in Falls Church last week. A plea for help from a Kenyan man dropped into his e-mail inbox during the interview.

Ms. Stokes reiterated that only 3 percent had been rejected and said that the others had not returned to obtain a license by the time the records were checked in December. She said the department had no way of knowing what happened to them.

“We can only surmise that they moved to another state or decided not to get a credential,” she said.

After Mr. Mejri was first refused a new license, he went to five other Department of Motor Vehicles offices, hoping his documents would be accepted.

At one, a clerk requested the original court order granting his petition against deportation. It took eight weeks, but he produced it. A copy was faxed to Richmond, but it had no effect. He was never rejected outright, he said, and was asked repeatedly for additional proof of legal residence.

“This should not be happening,” Mr. Figueredo said. “This man is legally present. He has a decision by a federal judge. Why isn’t that good enough?”

Mr. Mejri soon fell behind on his bills, and his insurance company canceled his liability coverage. That triggered the cancellation of his business license. Meanwhile, credit card companies continued to charge him for use of their services for his cars, souring his credit rating.

He felt particularly helpless when he discovered that he could not even buy the syringes he needed to treat his diabetes without presenting a valid driver’s license and had to work through a social worker to get them.

“I am demoralized,” Mr. Mejri said, tears rolling under his glasses onto his sweater. “I see no door open in front of me. Nobody wants to listen.”

Ms. Stokes said there was a special center in Richmond to review such claims that could contact federal immigration authorities directly to ascertain an applicant’s status.

She could not say whether this had been done in Mr. Mejri’s case. She said there was a clearly defined list of documents, posted online, that are accepted. She said she did not know the number of applicants who failed to get licenses since December.

Mr. Figueredo said that clerks have not been consistent in accepting certain alternative documents.

Some immigrants have had success presenting a document called an I-797, essentially a receipt for a visa application, but others have not. To address that problem, a bill was presented in Virginia’s House in January that would have required the department to spell out its procedure, Mr. Figueredo said, but it did not pass.

A month ago, Mr. Mejri rented a room in Rockville, Md., and got a driver’s license in that state. But his monthly insurance payments have tripled, and for now, he has put his business aside. He lives off money he has borrowed from his friend Aziz Balaid, an American citizen, who is finding it more difficult to be optimistic about his friend’s prospects.

“When he says, ‘What am I going to do?’ I have no answer for him,” Mr. Balaid said.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/18/us/18license.html?src=mv

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The nightmare of platonic friendships

Posted by Administrator on February 18, 2011

A spouse should never be closer to a third party at the expense of his or her partner.

A spouse should never be closer to a third party at the expense of his or her partner.

A while ago, a call came through to our offices. On the line was a man. Let call him Mark* to protect his identity. He was quick to state he wanted to talk to someone who writes about marriage and relationships and he had chosen to speak to me.

“I have a problem. There is a man who is giving me nightmares. He is very close to my wife and I am very uncomfortable about their friendship,” he started.”

“Do you suspect he is having an affair with your wife?” I asked expecting an affirmative answer.

“I have done my investigations and I am satisfied there is no sexual relationship between the two of them but I am feeling like I have been relegated to second place in my wife’s heart.” Mark replied.

We agreed to meet and talk about the issue. The issue, according to Mark, 30, who has been married for one and a half years, is that his wife is very free with this man whom she claims has been her very good friend for years.

He says his then girlfriend introduced the man as a good friend of their family even before he got married to her. He thought the friendship would eventually die off as his wife settled down in marriage. But this was not to be, instead the two seem to be closer.

He decided to let his wife know that he was uncomfortable about the friendship but she reassured him that he had no reason to feel that way because John* was just a good friend and their friendship was purely platonic he was like her brother.

Mark wondered whether he was being unreasonable and insecure especially because his wife would meet John regularly in public places, and would he sometimes even drop her home when she did not have her car.

Today, Mark confesses that this friendship is weighing on him too much and he feels he cannot go on like this. That is what prompted him to call me.

“I have tried to talk to her about it several times but she insists she has known this man for long and they are just friends and that I have no reason to be insecure about him,” says Mark.

But Mark is disturbed that his wife, does not understand “what the fuss is all about yet the man even helped her sister get a job.”

Mark’s wife who is 29, feels she is an adult who is able to have friends of either sex without jeopardising her marriage. She feels Mark is fussing too much about a non-issue and that he should trust her because she has nothing to hide. Mark has even raised the matter with John* who is also married.

And his response was that there was nothing between him and Mark’s wife and that they had been good friends for a long time. He felt that if there was an issue, then Mark should sort it out with his wife.

What Mark wanted to know is “whether it is possible for a man and woman who are not related to have such a close friendship? There could be two situations here.

First, the wife could just be having a platonic friendship with John. Or they could be having what is known as an emotional affair. But what is the difference? The Chambers Dictionary describes platonic love as “love between a man and woman without sexual desire”. This means the parties are close but the relationship has no romantic overtones.

What is going on here is probably that Mark’s wife is emotionally attached to John even though she may not be aware of it An emotional affair, according to Wikipedia, is defined as any infidelity that occurs through feeling or thought.

Many of the people who are emotionally cheating don’t consider it to be infidelity. Their thinking is that, because there is no actual physical contact, the behaviour can’t be considered cheating.

The end result is that the unfaithful spouse is paying more emotional attention to someone other than their partner, and they are removing themselves from the commitment they made to their marriage.

It starts innocently but chances are that half of these relationships end up being sexual, according to the source. While emotional affairs are considered as bad as cheating, platonic relationships can be beneficial.

“Sometimes, a woman may need a male perspective on family, career, and dating to make crucial decisions,” notes the website. The opposite is also applicable. However, the website quickly warns of misconceptions about the whole thing by other people.

“Many people do not believe that there can be a close relationship between a man and a woman without sexual overtones.”

According to Dr Gail Saltz, a Psychiatrist with New York Presbyterian Hospital, an emotional affair is when one has deep connection with another person without physical affection.

It may appear harmless in the beginning, he writes in TODAY Relationships, but it is very dangerous to a marriage. Often there is a desire to spend time with this person without necessarily being in a private environment.

“If a spouse happens to share secrets or any communication with this person, and hides the same from the spouse or when one feels free to share problems with the person that sometimes touch on the spouse, then there is an affair,” observes Dr Saltz.

A platonic friendship can be a nightmare to married people and as Dr Saltz insists, it affects both men and women. Sample this scenario that affects Jane, a mother of one.

On Valentine’s day in 2008, she almost broke up with her husband of seven years because he insisted on inviting a female colleague for a dinner organised by their friends.

“It was a friend’s dinner and ordinarily, each person was expected to be accompanied by their better half. My husband said it was not a couples’ dinner as such and went ahead to invite this colleague,” she explains.

It turned out the other friends were accompanied and she had to share the attention of her husband with this friend.

“Although I knew they were in high school and university together and that they were good friends, this woman had become a thorn in my flesh even though there has been no evidence of an affair,” Jane explains.

“I felt that she should have given him some space when he got married.” Jane adds. “She had a habit of calling my husband and asking for all manner of advice. Imagine asking him which colours her curtains should be?” Would I be faulted for thinking this woman was up to no good? In such friendships, there is a tendency to dismiss your spouse’s concerns – and declare “We are just friends”.

A spouse is also likely to withdraw from the other half and feel no enthusiasm about a sexual relationship.

“There is also a feeling that the other person understands you better than your spouse. This is what ends up causing emotional tension,” warns the psychiatrist.

Do Mark and Jane’s predicaments justify their worry? “Certainly yes. Once in a marriage, a person cannot continue to relate to former friends like they did before, more so when they are of the opposite sex,” says Caroline Mbuthia, a counseling psychologist.

When two people get married, the relationship must take precedence over all other relationships and certain freedoms that were enjoyed by the parties are affected, says Caroline. Each person must realise their conduct should never mean they are available to all other former interested parties.

“A deliberate effort must be made to show there is a level of closeness that can only be accorded to the spouse,” she advises.

On Mark’s problem, Caroline says he should ask himself, why he feels the way he does? Do he feel the man is taking his wife away from him? Is she neglecting him? Caroline says the questions are crucial as they could be signals that all is not well.

“Human beings are intuitive and some feelings serve as a warning bell in your system to tell you there is danger ahead. It may just be a chemical trigger for you to pay more attention to something you may be taking lightly,” explains the psychologist.

“Marriage requires a certain level of commitment. Many things that start out as ‘innocent’ end up becoming an entangled web. The lady in this scenario needs to decide where her allegiance or loyalty lies, she says.

It may help for the husband to ask her to consider how she would feel if things were reversed and he was the one engaging emotionally with another woman. Boundaries must be demarcated for spouses to avoid both physical and emotional strain.

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/Features/saturday/The+nightmare+of+platonic+friendships++/-/1216/1110292/-/eeqotiz/-/index.html

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Sniffing for trouble in his inbox

Posted by Administrator on February 18, 2011


Is it possible for a seemingly good and stable relationship to head to the rocks with just a few taps on a mobile phone’s keypad? Apparently yes.

We cannot imagine our lives without mobile phones, yet they are the same gadgets that are stirring quite a number of conflicts in relationships today.

Two weeks ago a woman shared her story, with the Saturday Magazine, of how after snooping on her husband’s phone, she found what she called “near pornographic texts”.

Her marriage appeared fine until she started scouring her man’s phone for evidence. She found intimate exchanges between him and his supposed lover that shattered her rosy outlook of her marriage.

Some of the responses to the story from our readers suggested that the woman should not have gone sniffing around for trouble on her husband’s phone. That it was all her fault that her marriage was now suffering.

Some even told her “What you know doesn’t hurt you’ as they castigated her for snooping. But in reality, there are many more of her kind, who are willing to ignore the rules of netiquette in their pursuit for incriminating evidence.

A study by three universities in the UK last year found that one out of five spouses snoop on their partners’ emails and text messages. The survey also found that women were more likely than men to snoop.

The snooping takes the form of checking someone’s emails, text messages, posts on social media websites, and browser history; installing monitoring software on a partner’s phone, or even posing as someone else to contact a partner.

Up to no good

Many people begin snooping on their partners when they suspect that the partner is up to no good, and want evidence to confirm their fears. It could be that your partner is never comfortable answering calls in your presence, or that his or her call register and inbox are always empty when you check.

Perhaps he has a security code on his phone, or you just want to find out who your partner is constantly sending text messages or emailing during the wee hours of the night. Such signs can send the message that your man or woman has something to hide.

Sometimes there is nothing to worry about, but there may be times when you get the nagging feeling that there is something you need to know, something fishy going on, and that the evidence is on his phone or laptop. Or maybe you just want to reassure yourself that everything is fine and going through his phone will reaffirm that you are the only woman in his life.

However, there are those who find the damning evidence they were looking for and go on to confront their partners.

Mercy, a sales representative, has been caught up in the SMS web before. The first time her boyfriend found flirtatious messages, he confronted her about it, but her defense calmed him down for a while.

“In sales, you have to give your contact information to your clients and the down side is that some of my male clients continuously send flirtatious messages or even send sexts (suggestive or sexually explicit text messages). We fight about text messages all the time and even though I explain the situation to him, he does not get it. Just because someone sent you a raunchy SMS does not mean there is anything going on between you,” Mercy sighs with frustration.

Mercy now thinks that her boyfriend of three years installed monitoring software on her phone.

“He confronts me even about messages that I deleted immediately after reading. He tells me who sent the message, the exact time the message was sent and the content. How else can one tell you such details unless they have you on surveillance?” Mercy asks.

Mercy’s suspicions are not far-fetched. A new mobile phone spying software was introduced into the Kenyan market last year. The software that goes by the name Juju works like black magic and promises to help you catch your cheating spouse without being detected.

Once installed, it taps into the ‘suspect’s’ phone and forwards all text messages and calls directly to your phone. You can even listen in on all calls and find out who your partner is talking to and what they are talking about.

However, George Njoroge the Managing Director of Juju Limited realises that fire can only be fought with fire, and his company offers counter-surveillance software for those who have something to hide.

Dubbed SMS private bag, this software directs all your messages to a private folder, which only you have access to. The snooping girlfriend or husband will never get to read any suspicious messages as they are deleted from your inbox and re-directed to the private folder.

But 35-year-old electrician, Ben, finds the idea of installing spy ware on his wife’s phone rather ridiculous.

“What kind of marriage is that where you now turn into a detective against the very person you are supposed to truest most?”  He muses.

Ben swears that for the 10 years he has been married, he has never had reason to monitor his wife’s calls or text messages. He insists that if you cannot trust your spouse and have to keep watching her and poring over her bag looking for incriminating evidence, then you have no business being married to her.

Ben says that he leaves his phone lying around and has no problem when his wife answers calls on his phone even though female clients call him sometimes after working hours.

He narrates how one of his clients once called and played a prank on his wife, asking her who she was in that house, as if to suggest that the caller was the other woman in Ben’s life. But at the end of the call, the female client clarified that she was just testing Ben’s wife to see her reaction.

“My wife later told me about that incident and we laughed about it,” Ben remembers.

Ben believes that if someone is straying, you do not have to snoop around to find this out because the truth will reveal itself with time.

“But even if you find something fishy, do not be quick to accuse your partner. First investigate and be sure of the facts and when you confront her with the information, her reaction will tell you subtly whether you are overreacting or whether you are on to something,” he adds.

Finding a string of texts between your wife and another man would likely make any man angry and bitter especially if the man on the other end is your wife’s ex-boyfriend.

Mwangi, a programme assistant with a local non-governmental organisation, had to deal with suspicious messages he found accidentally on his wife’s phone. Mwangi, 26, married last year and even before they had settled into marriage, his wife’s ex started sending her flirtatious messages.

“My wife and I share phones and I found the messages when I was using her phone to send a text,” he says.

Before he mustered the courage to bring the issue up, his wife raised the subject, herself, showed him the messages and they resolved the issue together.

But Mwangi did not let go so easily. He called the man to tell him off, but all he got were insults. However, the man stopped sending the offensive messages. Mwangi says that because his wife was open about the messages, the issue did not result in conflict and mistrust.

“There should be no secrets in marriage, you just have to discuss such things openly if you want to avoid issues of mistrust,” Mwangi advises.

Real culprits

Many of those who confessed to snooping agree that before they started fishing around in their partner’s phones, their relationships appeared somewhat healthy, but nosing around changed all that.

Relationship therapists warn that it is not the phones that are causing the problem, but rather people start snooping because there is something going wrong with the relationship.

Naomi James, a marriage therapist at Oasis Africa Counselling Institute, concurs that for a significant number of couples who seek marriage therapy, the conflict arose from mobile phone communication disputes.

One partner or the other peeks into the phone and finds what he or she thinks is a damning message or call and that sets the stage for frequent fights and mistrust. Yet phones are not the real culprits in the breakdown of relationships.

“If you have to sneak around your partner looking for tell tale signs and messages, then there is an issue of mistrust in your relationship already,” Naomi says.

The marriage therapist says that only being open with each other and rebuilding trust can save such a relationship.

But she cautions that there is a possibility that the other party’s fears may not be unfounded.

“If you are in constant communication with another person of the opposite sex, you need to be alert and conscious. A casual friendship can develop into something deeper with frequent communication and spending too much time together alone,” she warns.

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/Features/saturday/Sniffing+for+trouble+in+his+inbox+/-/1216/1110276/-/2171wd/-/index.html

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Olympic champ discovers love is truly a marathon

Posted by Administrator on February 18, 2011

File | NATION Olympic marathon champion Samwel Wanjiru and his wife Teresa Njeri at a Nairobi restaurant on Valentine’s Day on February 14, 2011. Wanjiru says he has patched things up with his wife after a turbulent few months.

File | NATION Olympic marathon champion Samwel Wanjiru and his wife Teresa Njeri at a Nairobi restaurant on Valentine’s Day on February 14, 2011. Wanjiru says he has patched things up with his wife after a turbulent few months.

He wore his first pair of shoes — plastic ones known as Sandak — while in Standard Eight, but by the age of 18 years Samuel Kamau Wanjiru had put his best foot forward in athletics and made his first million shillings.

Since then, Wanjiru has secured his place in Kenya’s glittering athletics hall of fame by winning various races, including holding the world half-marathon record and grabbing Kenya’s first ever men’s Olympic marathon gold medal in Beijing 2008.

However, the world-beater last month hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons when he was arrested and arraigned before Nyahururu senior resident magistrate Alice Mong’are for allegedly threatening to kill his wife and possessing an illegal firearm. The case is still in court.

To add to Wanjiru’s woes, his marriage seems to have been on the rocks when subsequent media reports indicated that his wife, Teresa Njeri, wanted a divorce.

But just when the couple’s relationship seemed to have reached the point of no return, they proved everyone wrong with a lovey-dovey public display on Valentine’s Day that was accorded generous media coverage.

“Let me assure my fans that all stands sorted out. I encourage those that might find themselves in a similar situation to seek advice from their seniors,” he says.

His wife concurs, saying they are a fairly young couple whose mistake was to give too much room to be manipulated from all sides.

“In marriage, there are ups and downs. We are still young and we have resolved that nobody should come between us. It was on Monday during our Valentine’s that we cemented our marriage even further,” says Teresa, a beautician.


And as Wanjiru races to reclaim his marriage, his eyes are firmly fixed on the next challenge — the London Marathon scheduled for April 25. He currently trains in Ngong and Eldoret.

The athlete credits his success to his sponsor, Sunichi Kobayashi. “This is the man who changed my life,” he says.

Kobayashi traced Wanjiru’s home after the athlete won the primary schools national cross country championship held in Kisumu in 1999. He trained him for one year and later assisted the athlete to set base in Japan.

“My family had no means to pay for my secondary school education. So, were it not for athletics I would probably be doing masonry or some casual work,” says Wanjiru, who now drives a top-of-the-range Toyota VX and a Range Rover and lives in a palatial home in Nyahururu.

Competing in the world’s major marathons is no mean achievement for a man whose parents divorced when he was barely five and was raised by his mother.

While in Japan, the athlete’s friends found it difficult to pronounce his middle name, Kamau, and they often referred to him as Wanjiru. The name stuck.

It was also in Japan that the foundations of his love were laid, while staying with Waweru Muturi — a fellow athlete and brother to Teresa.

Wanjiru met Teresa, then a high school student, when she visited her brother. “I organised a few dinners and before long we realised we can try life. I liked her character,” says Wanjiru. They got married in 2004.

While acknowledging that settling down at the age of 18 years was not easy, he explains he wanted to start a family early. The couple has two children: Anne Wanjiru, four; and Simon Njoroge, two.

The athlete credits his wife for building their Nyahururu home while he was in Japan. “She was in charge of the project,” says Wanjiru.

It is this love that the two have now rekindled. And Teresa, who is a key witness in Wanjiru’s court case, has already indicated that she does not wish to pursue the matter. Indeed, she told the Saturday Nation that she is considering withdrawing the case next week.

The family lawyer Ndegwa Wahome says: “She is not going to testify, so she says, and I believe from a legal perspective she cannot be compelled to testify, especially against her husband.”

Wanjiru, who recognises that he can only run for the next 10 years or so, has big plans for the future. He says he has interests in property in Nakuru and Nairobi. He has also invested in Japan, even though he says it is difficult to go into property alone in the Asian country.

“Taxation is very high in Japan,” says Wanjiru.

Inspired by their success, Wanjiru and Teresa plan to give back to society.

“We have identified orphans from Katana slum, between Ngong and Karen, whose education we would like to support,” he says.

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Olympic+champ+discovers+love+is+truly+a+marathon+/-/1056/1110412/-/157j9a3/-/index.html

Posted in Kenya | 9 Comments »

Renting a Womb

Posted by Administrator on February 18, 2011

To save themselves the headache that sometimes comes with marriage and relationships, single men who want children are now paying surrogate mothers hefty amounts of money to carry their babies and then cede their maternal rights once the child is born. ALLAN OLINGO explores the issue

In mid-July last year, international football star and Real Madrid player Cristiano Ronaldo paid a surrogate mother to have his son. According to a Portuguese newspaper, Diario de Noticias, the surrogate in San Diego, where Ronaldo was on holiday, conceived, and after giving birth, handed over the baby to the footballer.

This trend is slowly catching up in Kenya.

To save themselves the headache that sometimes come with marriage and relationships, single men who want children are now paying surrogate mothers hefty amounts of money to carry their babies and then cede their maternal rights once the child is born

Beatrice Achieng, got paid


by a city based Architect a whooping Sh950,000 to have his baby and give it up upon birth. Strange as it may sound, she says her friend Sheila hooked her into this irresistible offer.

Needs catered for

“It was really sad to hear that he was not able to have a baby of his own because of relationship problems and with the financial gain that came with it, I said why not?’ she admits.

She says the process was fairly simple even though she was apprehensive at first.

After going through a routine blood analysis and HIV tests, she conceived and was paid half the amount and immediately placed on a medical cover for three years.

“During the pregnancy, he catered for all my needs and two weeks after the birth of his son he wired the other half into my account, and I gave up the baby. It was traumatic but the allure for the money and the heart to help him out made me do it,” she explains.

“I feel guilty and not proud of what I did but I always tell myself that I made a sacrifice for another person’s happiness through my good heart. I am happy that I helped him achieve his goals of becoming a parent even though I don’t plan to be a surrogate again in the future,” she offers.

According to Fida’s Deputy Executive Director Claris Oganga, there is no legislation in Kenya that touches on surrogacy.

“Such an arrangement isn’t illegal according to our law but ethically it is unsound. I feel for the innocent child involved because as a minor, it has the right to both parents, proper family upbringing. But with this kind of arrangements, it’s a complete violation of such rights,” says Oganga.

Opt-out mechanisms

University of Nairobi Sociology lecturer Dr Agnes Zani says there are different approaches to this arrangement. It may be done between people who already know each other but may not be committed to marriage.

She notes that the dating challenges have contributed to such kinds of behaviour.

With social change and women empowerment, women have demanded more of their rights and challenged traditional roles.

Men might find this a difficult situation to cope with and may look for such opt-out mechanisms, says the sociologist.

“Factors such as liking a person and even hope that later there may be a long-term relationship may be motivating factors and in such a case it is not only monetary motivation that propels the woman,” she adds.

Dr Zani says given that the sums of money paid are very high, poverty may be another motivating factor.

Peter Mogeni, a banker, admits that he would consider commercial surrogacy because he feels it’s an easier way to parenthood than staying with a nagging wife or girlfriend. He instead blames the current complexities in relationships and dating as the reasons that may make men opt for such arrangements.

“Imagine a situation where I have the money and I want to have a child of my own yet all I meet are gold-diggers, nagging women, then what options do I have left?” poses Mogeni.

He says the high levels of divorce and relationship drama could be the reasons most single men are resorting to this kind of arrangements.

“Why get stuck maintaining a relationship with a woman after breaking up because she has a child you have to take care of. This gives her an excuse to milk thousands from you to support her shopping habits while claiming it’s to raise your child?” he quips.

Mogeni says he would rather have his children in this ‘unique set-up’ instead of marrying a nagging woman who will drag you into many court battles so that you can pay hefty ‘child support’ figures to maintain her expensive lifestyle.

Another contributing factor is the fact that relationships have also become adulterous. Men are losing their sense of authority and leadership. Rather than be challenged directly and then losing their self-esteem, they would rather avoid these permanent relationships.

Dr Zani notes that such arrangement could be a result and reaction to the fact that women have resorted to sperm banks and the general notion that women don’t need men to get babies.

“Men may also be trying to show women that they can do without them (that is the emotional and social aspects) and stick to the biological function, by being paid for their womb,” she adds.

Traditionally, surrogacy has been practiced in many communities especially to help barren couples have children of their own.

However, the commercial aspect of it is a Western idea that’s mainly practiced in the US and India who introduced it in 2002 to promote its medical tourism.

Dangers of this trend

So what should a woman take into account before entering into such an arrangement?

“It’s is important for a surrogate mother to question why this man wants to raise the child alone. He may be a child trafficker. Any sober mother should not enter into such an arrangement because of the financial windfalls,” warns lawyer Oganga.

But what are the dangers of this emerging trend?

This social disorder will bring more problems in the future as to where such men will get their social and emotional support because such a stable base can only be best complemented within the family setup.

“This can be treated as a marriage social disorder amongst our youths as it goes against the normative familial setup.

It’s important to understand that marriages and relationships will never seize to have challenges. Patience, understanding, tolerance, love and sharing should always be embraced in relationships to avoid such disorders,” conludes the sociologist.

Source: http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/InsidePage.php?id=2000029487&cid=300&

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Kenyan Questioned in Death of Korean Fisherman

Posted by Administrator on February 18, 2011

A Kenyan national is being questioned in regard to the death on Thursday of the chief engineer of the Keummi 305 fishing trawler in the African country’s port city of Mombasa.

According to reports, the suspect was in the same hotel room as the engineer, identified by his last name Kim, who fell from the room’s balcony and was found dead by a security guard at around 2:25 a.m. local time.
While an investigation into the cause of his death is underway, the hotel guard reportedly said that there were sounds of an argument just before he heard Kim fall to the ground.

The Keummi 305 had been released last week after being held captive by Somali pirates for four months. Kim and 42 other crew members arrived in Mombasa on Tuesday after the ship was freed.

Kim’s family has been informed of the news and his body has been transferred to a local hospital.

Source: http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2011/02/18/2011021800971.html

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Stella Mwangi fends off racism in Norway after winning contest

Posted by Administrator on February 18, 2011

Stella Mwangi, who won the right to represent Norway at the Eurovision Song Contest, won't respond to recent racist attacks against her. PHOTO: Eurovision TV

Stella Mwangi, who won the right to represent Norway at the Eurovision Song Contest, won't respond to recent racist attacks against her. PHOTO: Eurovision TV

The young Kenyan-Norwegian woman who won last weekend’s run-up to the Eurovision Song Contest has been the target of what many are calling blatant racism, with even a local politician caught in the scandal. Singer Stella Mwangi herself, however, doesn’t want to talk about it.

I would rather talk about me and my music,” Mwangi told popular Scandinavian talk show host Fredrik Skavlan on his show taped for Friday night airing. She claimed she hadn’t followed the last week of racist comments made on Internet forums and in social media since she won Norway’s version of Eurovision, called Melodi Grand Prix.

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) was forced to shut down the comments section of its website www.nrk.no (external link) after a string of offensive items were submitted by viewers who clearly don’t think Mwangi is “Norwegian enough” to represent Norway at the Eurovision finals in Germany later this spring. Mwangi was four years old when she arrived in Norway with her family 20 years ago. She grew up in Eidsvoll, northeast of Oslo, where she reportedly was a victim of bullying because she was “different” than the other children, and found refuge in music.

Mwangi had also refused to answer questions about her run-ins with racism in Norway over the years when interviewed on NRK’s nightly news shortly after her victory, saying she preferred “to look ahead, not backwards.”

Conservative politician’s ‘joke’
The most serious racist incident this past week involved a politician from Norway’s Conservative Party (Høyre), who wrote a sarcastic reaction to Mwangi’s victory in the song contest in heavy local dialect on her Facebook page. Roughly translated, Rita Ormbostad, deputy mayor of Aure County on Norway’s west coast, wrote that she would rather have “Sami, polar bears and muskox” as winners and that “that’s what we should sell, not that we are open to asylum seekers!”

Ormbostad later added that she had “sharpened a spear and bought bongo drums” in anticipation of the Eurovision finals where Mwangi will represent Norway. “Maybe I’ll travel to Africa and watch from there, where I can eat wildebeest!”

Ormbostad tried to brush off her comments as merely a joke, but also told local newspaper Tidens Krav that “I believe something originally Norwegian sells more and is more suitable for the Norwegian Grand Prix than a song that has African tendencies.”

She ultimately had to apologize for her “unfortunate statements” after a barrage of criticism from fellow politicians and public officials. Sunniva Ørstavik, for example, Norway’s civil ombudsman for equality and discrimination issues, told NRK that politicians have “a special responsibility” for fighting stereotypes and racism. Other members of the Conservatives tries to distance themselves from Ormbostad’s offensive remarks.

‘Norway behind me’
Mwangi herself seemed to simply try to ignore them, telling Skavlan she thought the past week had been “fantastic” and that she was simply glad she won. Pressed by Skavlan to respond to the racist attacks, she replied, “What is racist? Let’s talk about something completely different, like the jacket I’m wearing,” to which she received applause from the studio audience.

Mwangi clearly wasn’t going to let Ormbostad or other prejudiced Norwegians spoil her victory, or let them hurt her, possibly drawing on her experience as a child growing up in Eidsvoll. “I feel I have all of Norway behind me when I represent us in Dusseldorf,” Mwangi told Skavlan.

Source: http://www.newsinenglish.no/2011/02/18/eurovision-winner-fends-off-racism/

Related article: http://habarizanyumbani.jambonewspot.com/2011/02/15/stella-stl-mwangi-to-represent-norway-in-eurovision-contest-in-germany/

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