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Archive for October 14th, 2011

Birth in Nepal

Posted by Administrator on October 14, 2011

Nepal has some of the worst maternal death statistics in the world, with some six women dying in childbirth every day.

Despite the political instability of the past ten years of civil war, the Nepalese government is introducing measures to improve safety for mothers but so far little seems to be working.

Subina Shrestha, a Nepalese filmmaker who is herself five months pregnant, sets out to find out why so many mothers are dying in childbirth. In the following account she looks at the human stories behind these statistics.

Ten years of civil war in Nepal took over 15,000 lives. Within the same period, childbirth took the lives of over 22,000 women.

The war led to a revolution and there was an overhaul of the Nepali political system. The maternal deaths, however, hardly even featured in the newspapers.

When I realised that I was pregnant, I thought there would be no better time then now to look into this situation. And there was no better place than Accham.

Accham to me is one of the darkest corners of Nepal. I had been to the district ten years ago and had been shocked by the total lack of services. Ten years on, I believed myself to be a jaded journalist and a filmmaker. Accham proved me wrong once again.

Our destination, Sanfe Bagar, a dirt track flanked by shops of corrugated iron sheets, was as dusty as before. The mules had been replaced by motorcycles and people ran around scared every time young men drove spewing out dust and exhaust.

Nepalese women have to stay in a chaupadi during menstruation

Nepalese women have to stay in a chaupadi during menstruation

Deadly traditions

We did not have to go far to see that things had hardly changed.

Just around Sanfe, each house still had a chaupadi – an outhouse hardly big enough for two goats to crouch inside.

For five days every month during menstruation women have to live there.

I was shocked to hear a story about a woman who had to stand out in the rain all night with an umbrella because her family was too poor to build a chaupadi. She died of a snakebite.

And women are still dying. A few weeks before I reached Accham there was a story in the newspapers about a young woman who died in a chaupadi.

Toya Raj Giri, a health consultant from Unicef who accompanied us, explained that women light small fires in the hut to keep the cold away. With terrible ventilation, some get asphyxiated.

Within a day, I found myself getting angry. But I was preoccupied with finding a woman due to give birth that week. I heard there was a village where there were eight such women.

A five hour walk later we were told that all the babies were already born – a week premature. With multiple pregnancies and hard labour, women hardly ever make it to their due date.

By the time we found Basanti a few days later, I was convinced that I would fall into the category of village women who pop a baby out with considerable ease.

And women had been giving birth! There were children everywhere, running around with their big malnourished bellies and naked feet and flies stuck to their snotty noses and infected eyes. No woman in their late 20s had less then four children.

The narrow trails were full of defecation. None of the villages had toilets. Every monsoon, Accham suffers from diarrhoea and a few people die.

Stuck in the first floor of a house without improvised stairs, made of cement sacks on a cold rainy night, Toya started to vomit. I started to fear that the film would never be made.

The next day, when some men objected to us filming Basanti, I was certain that our time in Accham was up. I realised later that it was just envy, and that all the men wanted was attention and hopefully some money.

What struck me the most was the open mindedness and yet the helplessness of the women.

Accham has hardly any men – most men migrate to India for work. The handful that remain appear to do nothing but play cards and drink.

The women told me that many men bring “bad blood” from India – they return infected with HIV and infect their wives.

Thirty-one year old Basanti got married when she was 14 and is expecting her sixth child

Thirty-one year old Basanti got married when she was 14 and is expecting her sixth child

Lack of medical service

Laxmi, a nurse, told me that it is a nightmare; not only to change the attitudes of the people but also to get doctors and specialists to visit.

Women, including Basanti, wanted to get a permanent family planning operation done but the service was not available.

To Laxmi’s knowledge, there has been one mini laprotomy camp, a permanent family planning procedure for women. Only one woman was operated on before the doctor packed up.

The government has sent many vasectomy camps, but with all the men in India it was a futile gesture.

Doctors occasionally visit to correct a prolapsed uterus in a woman. Malnourished and overworked, Laxmi believes that almost half the women in Accham have a prolapsed uterus. Nationwide, one in ten women suffer from uterine prolapse.

Laxmi had tales of women dying while giving birth. She talked about women who begged to be saved but their family refused to take them to a hospital, and of women whose vaginas were hacked by village “healers” after their baby died inside them.

No wonder Basanti was so keen to have us around. It meant that we would not let her die.

Tales of women suffering in Accham could make any sane person’s blood boil. Even if women survive one childbirth, they might die in the next one.

If they have daughters, they are obliged to keep trying until they have several sons. Those who live through it all might have prolapsed uterus. When I think of the fate of 13-year-old Sunita, it breaks my heart.

Accham is like a black hole where women’s dignity is destroyed. Even before the filming ended, all I wanted was to get out of there.

Source: http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/witness/2010/05/20105372154435803.html


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Kenyan driver nabbed at 195km/h in a 60km/h zone in Australia

Posted by Administrator on October 14, 2011

A DRIVER has been caught travelling at 195km/h in a 60km/h zone through Box Hill.

The 20-year-old, who is living in Forest Hill on a student visa and driving on his Kenyan preliminary licence in Australia, was snapped by a speed camera at the intersection of Canterbury Rd and Station St about 4am on September 24.

He had three teenagers aged 16 and 17 in his mother’s early 1990s model Nissan at the time, highway patrol Acting Sgt Shannon Elston said.

Police seized the man’s passport yesterday and charged him with five offences including conduct endangering life and speeding dangerously.

He was bailed to appear before Ringwood Magistrates’ Court in February.

Acting Sgt Elston said the charges could result in a jail term of up to 10 years.

“It’s one of the highest speeds I have ever come across, particularly in a built-up zone,” Acting Sgt Elston, a police officer for 11 years, said.

The charges come after the Leader revealed a loophole allowing international visitors to drive on Victorian roads on their home country’s licence without accruing demerit points.

The RACV has called for temporary residents to be required to sit Victorian licence tests after a period of time, but neither the Labor nor Liberal parties would comment directly on the issue.

Source: http://waverley-leader.whereilive.com.au/news/story/driver-nabbed-at-195km-h-in-box-hill/

Posted in Diaspora News | 4 Comments »

Kenyan recounts working under Steve Jobs

Posted by Administrator on October 14, 2011

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 14 – In 1986, a young Kenyan engineer from Mombasa walked into the hallowed halls of Apple Computer headquarters in Silicon Valley, California.

For the next 11 years, David Seda would spend some tough, yet rewarding long days and nights at Apple Headquarters, serving in several capacities including engineering, marketing, and finally as senior director of communications.

“Apple always pushed us hard. In my first three years, I slept under my desk at the office for three hours a night. There was so much to learn and know and do. And it was so much fun! I remember visits to my customer, NASA Mission Control, to help the rocket scientists with their scientific applications on the Macintosh,” he recalls.

Seda started his professional career with the former Kenya Posts & Telecommunications Corporation, in 1978 as a technician.

He moved to the United States to pursue degrees in Economics, Computer Science and a Master’s at Texas Tech University, where he eventually started working, writing speech recognition software and running an advanced technology lab.

“For my lab research, I applied for grants from all major technology companies. An Apple representative told me that if I applied for a job at Apple, I’d have access to all the technology I needed. Six months later, Apple hired me as an engineer,” Seda said.

In those early days, Apple cofounder Steve Jobs had left the company and was concentrating on building other successful companies – the Pixar animation studios and NeXT Computer.

Seda, who is now vice-president of marketing at Calix, the North American leader in access communications, recalls Jobs’ pitch to the Apple Board that would re-admit him into the fold.

“Steve’s presentation was masterful. He showed a deep understanding of where personal computing was going. I could tell, he didn’t think much of the board of directors. He thought most were buffoons and didn’t have a clue how much damage they had collectively done to the company.”

At the time of Steve Jobs’ return, Apple was a few months away from bankruptcy. The company’s market share had dropped to four percent of the PC market and annual losses exceeded $1 billion.

Apple’s market capitalisation was $3 billion at the time, which has since grown to $350 billion today.

Of course as history showed the deal was sealed, Jobs was in and Seda was given the responsibility of reeling in Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, by his boss and Apple Chairman at the time, Dr Gil Amelio.

“The chairman asked me to call Steve Wozniak and convince him to re-engage actively in the company turn-around effort, now that Jobs was coming back. I talked with Wozniak for 45 minutes. He re-engaged,” Seda said.

Once back in the company, Jobs would frequent Seda’s office to sit and chat, often asking him what software he was using on his computer or what interesting meetings were going on in the company.

Jobs was hardly the delegating sort of CEO, he was inquisitive, hands-on and as Seda explains had an affinity for the “can-do” attitude in employees.

“He often defined, for engineers, impossible design goals that at first defied laws of physics. And because “no” was not an answer, the engineers somehow met those impossible expectations. You loved being around Steve because you could see the wheels turning. You waited for the genius insight and time after time it came.”

However, now with Jobs no longer around the question persists: Will Apple be able to maintain its strong global brand or will anyone be worthy enough to fill his infamous white running shoes?

“The appeal of the brand never waned even during the period Steve was not there. In consumer technology there will always be hits and misses. Apple will experience misses,” Seda says, “Steve learned from every mistake he ever made and came back stronger. It never deterred him. Instead it propelled him to reach even further. I expect the Apple machine to continue in that vein.”

Source: http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/business/2011/10/kenyan-recounts-working-under-steve-jobs/

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Obama Sending 100 Armed Advisers to Africa to Help Fight Renegade Group

Posted by Administrator on October 14, 2011

President Obama said Friday that he had ordered the deployment of 100 armed military advisers to central Africa to help regional forces combat the Lord’s Resistance Army, a notorious renegade group that has terrorized villagers in at least four countries with marauding bands that kill, rape, maim and kidnap with impunity.

The deployment represents a muscular escalation of American military efforts to help fight the Lord’s Resistance Army, which originated as a Ugandan rebel force in the 1980s and morphed into a fearsome cult-like group of fighters. It is led by Joseph Kony, a self-proclaimed prophet known for ordering village massacres, recruiting prepubescent soldiers, keeping harems of child brides and mutilating opponents.

“For more than two decades, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has murdered, raped and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women and children in central Africa,” Mr. Obama wrote in a letter to Congress announcing the military deployment. “The LRA continues to commit atrocities across the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan that have a disproportionate impact on regional security.”

Mr. Obama’s decision to deploy armed advisers into the region also raises the risk of putting American military personnel in harm’s way. Mr. Obama wrote that he had decided to act because it was “in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.”

Mr. Obama also wrote that the deployment was justified by a law passed by Congress in May 2010, the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, which favored “increased, comprehensive U.S. efforts to help mitigate and eliminate the threat posed by the LRA to civilians and regional stability.”

American efforts to combat the group also took place during the Bush administration, which authorized the Pentagon to send a team of 17 counterterrorism advisers to train Ugandan troops and provided millions of dollars worth of aid, including fuel trucks, satellite phones and night vision goggles, to the Ugandan army. Those efforts scattered segments of the LRA in recent years; its remnants dispersed and regrouped in Uganda’s neighbors. In the spring of 2010, apparently desperate for new conscripts, Mr. Kony’s forces killed hundreds of villagers in the Congolese jungle and kidnapped hundreds more, according to witnesses interviewed at the time.

Unlike the earlier effort, the 100 military advisers will be armed, Mr. Obama said. They will be providing assistance and advice to their African hosts, he said, and “will not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense.”

The initial deployment will be in Uganda, the president said, and the advisers will operate in South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo “subject to the approval of each host nation.”

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/15/world/africa/barack-obama-sending-100-armed-advisers-to-africa-to-help-fight-lords-resistance-army.html

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Storm as cleric accused of abusing flock

Posted by Administrator on October 14, 2011

Photo/FILE A letter of suspension the senior pastor reads, “The apostolic church has found it wise to suspend you both as the sub-region overseer and pastor from 5th October until further notice and in the meantime, the church will be under the deacon under the supervision of Central region and the church headquarters”.

Photo/FILE A letter of suspension the senior pastor reads, “The apostolic church has found it wise to suspend you both as the sub-region overseer and pastor from 5th October until further notice and in the meantime, the church will be under the deacon under the supervision of Central region and the church headquarters”.

A leadership row in a  church that wants to suspend a senior pastor for alleged sexual harassment of members has gone to court.

Retired bishop Arthur Kitonga, founder of the Redeemed Gospel Churches of Kenya (RGC), wants the Rev Peter Gachara, an overseer of the church in Kiambu, to stop dealing with any operations.

Bishop Kitonga says several immorality complaints against the pastor have reached him.

A civil suit has been filed in a Kiambu court after the Rev Gachara, who heads Furaha Worship Centre and is also the overseer of RGC in Kiambu failed to comply with a letter of suspension last week.

Bishop Kitonga wrote: “We have received numerous complaints from various sources touching on sexual immorality in your conduct. This has damaged the church’s reputation and yourself as minister of the gospel.

Due process of law

“The apostolic church has found it wise to suspend you both as the sub-region overseer and pastor from 5th October until further notice and in the meantime, the church will be under the deacon under the supervision of Central region and the church headquarters”.

He continues: “You are advised to desist from inciting the church congregation against the apostolic decision and failure to adhere to the above leaves us with no alternative but to follow the necessary due process of the law.”

In the letter, the retired bishop says on June 28, this year, the church had written to the plaintiff, requiring him to proceed on compulsory leave but he declined to comply.

The pastor has, however, denied the allegations, saying they are baseless. He further says the move to suspend him is a plot by the defendant (the bishop) to control the church finances.

In his sworn affidavit, the Rev Gachara acknowledges receiving the suspension letter on October 6 and says the accusations are meant to tarnish his reputation and damage the church.

“I personally started the Kiambu church in which I have nurtured for six years and I have brought many members of the flock and properties.

“By bringing other people to run the church, the defendant wants to control the church finances and I am apprehensive that the members of the church will start scuttling,” he says.

Through lawyer Kimono Choragus, the pastor says the suspension by the defendant is illegal because he did not take time to investigate and give him the opportunity to explain or defend himself as justice demands.

He also says the complainants have not been named and that he has not been given the chance to face them.

An independent body has not heard and decided on the matter, he says. The sources of the allegations are unknown to me, he adds.

With the suspension, the plaintiff says he will suffer irreparable loss and damage and the flock at Furaha Centre, which he has worked hard to unite, will scatter.

The Rev Gachara wants the court to revoke the suspension and also bar the defendant from taking over the church operations until the case is heard and determined.

Kiambu principal magistrate Dolphine Okundi ordered the application to be heard urgently. She restrained the defendant from taking over the church until the inter parte hearing from October 19.

The Rev Gachara, who is married with three children, was ordained an overseer of the Redeemed Gospel Churches of Kenya in Kiambu in 2009 by Bishop Kitonga.

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Storm+as+cleric+accused+of+abusing+flock+/-/1056/1255006/-/8w2sxc/-/index.html

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Video: Song Bonoko- A Humorous but Scathing indictment against the Kenya Police

Posted by Administrator on October 14, 2011

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Court judgement re-ignites death penalty debate

Posted by Administrator on October 14, 2011

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Cancer survivor provides hope to patients

Posted by Administrator on October 14, 2011

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 12 – Doris Mayoli, like every other ordinary Kenya, struggles to make ends meet but at the same time, she helps cancer patients with the hefty costs of managing the disease.

Through ‘Twakutukuza Trust’ an organisation she started about two years ago, Mayoli best understands what it means to have cancer and how to manage it.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, and she has since recovered.

She uses Twakutukuza Trust to raise money in support of destitute Kenyans in the society.

This woman has an inspirational story to tell on how she conquered cancer. Mayoli like any other cancer patient went through the tough journey of lost hope, fear of death and a period of denial.

“I wanted a second opinion just to confirm if it was true that I actually had breast cancer. I went to different doctors until finally I settled on one,” she recalls.

As she looks into my eyes, the special gift of positive will and that of resilience is painted on her kind face.

The soft spoken mother of two says she spent about Sh3 million on treatment. On her own, she could not have raised that money having been the sole bread winner after separation with her husband in 2004.

“Each chemotherapy cost between Sh70,000 to Sh100,000 and they were every three weeks,” she explains.  “Then after that, I had to recover after some relapses as my immunity was going down and they could not give me any chemotherapy.”

After regaining some energy, she had to start the chemotherapy afresh.

“In February 2006 I proceeded with the chemotherapy, by then it had been such a long period and I had to start from scratch, so it was again every three weeks… chemo…every three weeks…chemo…for five times,” she explains.

She then went to South Africa for radiotherapy.

July 2006 brought a sigh of relief for Mayoli and her family. “That is when I did a test and the results showed that the cancer was gone!”

“Since then I have been doing a test every year and so far, I don’t have cancer!” she appreciates.

Having been through it, Mayoli knows if it were not for her family members, her employer, colleagues and friends who contributed money to help her meet the exorbitant costs of treating her breast cancer, her story could probably have been different today.

“I had support from my family and friends. My employer also helped me to pay my bills. For others who don’t have the resources I had, they are faced with a ridiculous amount and it is not easy to get this money,” she acknowledges as she explains her thought of starting the ‘Twakutukuza Trust’.

“There are people out there who have the resources and then there are people with need. So Twakutukuza tries to put these people together, so that people can come and say I want to support a patient and then we update them as the patient progresses with the treatment,” she says.

Mayoli resigned from her job to entirely concentrate on the Trust just to ensure she can save some lives through her initiative.

She does not only go out of her way to give financial support to cancer patients, but she has also turned her attention to listening to them, sharing their fears helping them to hang on and face the disease with anticipation of defeating it.

“I got a call last evening from a girl in Kisumu and she said she has felt some lumps in her abdomen. She is really scared to go to a doctor and does not have the money for the tests, things should at least be made easier for them,” she pleads with cancer stakeholders especially the government.

She wants the government to provide more screening and affordable health centres where people can easily walk in and get screened and also get treatment if they have cancer.

From her experience, she knows that up to now, cancer services are not affordable to many Kenyans because this is what her organisation deals with on a daily basis.

At the same time she is pleading with every individual to ensure they are screened for cancer.  “Early detection is very important because some cancers can be completely cured. Unfortunately many Kenyans present their cases at late stages reducing the probability of their survival.”

She also has a special message to cancer patients, “It is about being positive, I chose to be very prayerful. I had support from my two sons and we worked as a team. That is how we conquered my breast cancer!”

So far Mayoli has given 13 cancer patients financial aid and support to hundreds of others through visits and offering them counselling.

She also organises concerts which she uses as platforms for raising awareness and giving hope to cancer survivors.

In her quest to raise funds to support the growing number of cancer patients ‘Twakutukuza Trust’ is dealing with, she has organised another concert on October 21 and 22 at Prestige Plaza, Ngong Road, Nairobi.

“The concert will start at 6pm on 21st and 3pm on 23rd. Please come and support cancer patients who cannot afford to cater for their bills, come and be the shoulder they can lean on, it doesn’t matter how much you can give, even being there is contribution in its own way,” she pleads.

Source: http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2011/10/cancer-survivor-provides-hope-to-patients/

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How I gradually accepted my HIV status

Posted by Administrator on October 14, 2011

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 14 – When Minneh Kamau Bushby left for Canada in 1996 to attend a two-week HIV/AIDS conference, she had another mission in mind- to go and die in a faraway land, away from her family.

She didn’t die.

And three weeks ago, Minneh visited her family in Lari, for the first time in 15 years.

“When I left I had been diagnosed with AIDS in 1993. I had seen a lot of people dying in the hospital and they looked horrific and I thought I don’t want this to happen to me,” she explains.

She had kept her condition a safely guarded secret from her family.

Minne was 27 years old when she left the country and her job as a Secretary at the University of Nairobi.

She broke the news to her family years later from Canada.

“After about five years in Canada, she sent us a letter saying that she was HIV positive but she didn’t have the courage to inform us earlier,” her mother Rosemary Kamau recounts.

“Those are the days when people would die and get buried in polythene bags if its known that they had HIV,” she goes on to say.

A lot of things have happened while Minneh was away. For example, her only daughter Jesse whom she had left behind died in July 1997 aged six years.

“It was the most difficult time of my life because I was expecting she may die since I had the disease and she might have had it as well. So when I was told she was dead, the questions I was asking were was she very thin, was she very sick, was she in hospital, was it an accident, what happened?” Minneh narrates.

Because she was residing illegally in Canada at the time, Minneh opted not to travel to Kenya for her daughter’s burial.

So when she was finally given her immigration papers in January last year, she knew she was coming home.

“Last year she wrote to inform us that she would come home and I told her, I will believe when I see you at home in Kenya,” Minneh’s father Nahashon Kamau tells us.

It has been a long and tough journey for Minneh, the second born in a family of seven.

“People don’t just end up getting AIDS, it is a series of things that happen. I was raped at age eight then again at 12 years,” she remembers tearfully.

The lack of self worth led Minneh to the streets of Nairobi as a prostitute.

“I was looking for love in all the wrong places and not realising that sex is not love and love is not sex, they are two different things. I cannot tell you when I got HIV whether it is when I was raped or on the bad date or when I was a prostitute but I know for sure it was unprotected sex,” Minneh says.

But like in a fairy tale, Minneh got married in 2005 to Ryan Bushby, a man whom she says saw her strengths rather than her flaws.

“I knew that I could protect myself so I saw no reason not to pursue her and am very happy I married her. There are very specific ways that you can catch the virus and you can avoid it, it just takes simple precautions like use of a condom and you are fine,” Ryan says.

Minneh is now involved in educating the youth on HIV/AIDS because she believes if she had the information and knowledge, she would not have contracted the disease.

Source: http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/2011/10/how-i-gradually-accepted-my-hiv-status/

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Jail the Teachers Who Molest Their Students

Posted by Administrator on October 14, 2011

The Teachers Service Commission has announced the establishment of a database to keep track of sexual offences involving teachers in its employment.

It is hoped that the records generated will help speed up investigations and resolution of reported cases of teachers sexually molesting students.

It will also keep records of teachers who lose their jobs in the public school system over sexual offences, thus ensuring they do not easily cross over to secure jobs in private schools where they might continue their perverted ways.

This is an initiative to be commended. It is the closest thing to a sex offenders register in Kenya, and should spur the authorities to seriously consider maintaining such a database at the national level.

During the announcement of the database initiative, the TSC revealed that 164 cases have been reported in the past year, of teachers taking sexual advantage of their pupils.

This might look like a modest number in a population of over 240,000 teachers in the public education system, but it is still 164 cases too many.

Teachers are both role models in society and guardians for young and impressionable students.

Sexual offences may be rampant in society, but within the teaching fraternity, such incidents should be at zero per cent rather than at anything approaching the national ratio.

That is why beyond reporting on the new deterrence measures, the TSC should have provided information on the number of prosecutions.

All too often, the punishments meted out to perverts in the teaching profession have been very lenient, usually dismissal or even transfers.

Many of the cases reported, however, must be escalated beyond internal disciplinary mechanisms to the criminal justice system.

Source: Daily Nation

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