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Archive for March 5th, 2012

Kenyan group aims to empower women through boxing

Posted by Administrator on March 5, 2012

Jane Atieno, at far left, and Judy Musyoka, far right, are members of Box Girls, a Kenyan group aimed at empowering women through the sport of boxing. They're also riding along with members of Globalbike, a U.S. group that aims to provide bicycles to groups working toward improving women's and girls' health.

Jane Atieno, at far left, and Judy Musyoka, far right, are members of Box Girls, a Kenyan group aimed at empowering women through the sport of boxing. They're also riding along with members of Globalbike, a U.S. group that aims to provide bicycles to groups working toward improving women's and girls' health.

Judy Musyoka contends that women are good for more than “baby manufacturing.”

For the Globalbike trip participants from the U.S., we’d like to hope this is self-evident. But for the five women and girls riding along with Globalbike in Tanzania, it’s a daily struggle.

“It’s like the girl or the women should not have a voice; it’s always the man, the man, the man,” Musyoka said. “It’s like a baby manufacturing thing, to just give babies and that’s it, and cook and clean and do the house chores. You’re just there to be seen and not heard. It’s very unfair.”

Musyoka is a member of the Box Girls, a Kenyan group aimed at empowering women through the sport of boxing. The group works in Nairobi with women and girls who live in marginalized communities, where money is scarce and opportunity scarcer. They use boxing to build mental and physical self-confidence to achieve goals beyond marriage, pregnancy and child-rearing.

“Boxing is not only about fighting, it’s also about life skills and things that help us be empowered,” said Tabitha Njeri, 12, of Nairobi. She said her uncle told her that she was crazy, that she would get hurt, that boxing was better left for boys.

“I told him, ‘No, uncle, even anyone can do’ ” it, she said.

Tabitha went to boxing camp, and when she returned unhurt, she explained to her uncle that boxing is about more than throwing punches; it’s about throwing yourself into the world with confidence to achieve.

“I started educating him about the importance of boxing, and then he understood,” she said.

After Globalbike members met the Box Girls in Nairobi in 2011, they invited some of their members on this trip so the participants from Spartanburg could learn about the issues these women and girls face.

“We knew that working with them on this trip would be a great opportunity,” said Jean Crowther, Globalbike co-founder.

For example, Consolata Adhiambo, 15, said she wants to attend university and become a journalist. I asked Consolata whether she was curious about other people. She said she was.

Was she curious about these Americans on the trip?

“Yes, yes,” she said.

How about talking to one of them?

“Yes,” she said.

Consolata said she wanted to talk to Sally Hammond of Converse College. So she interviewed Hammond in the grass beside the road as the cyclists took a lunch break beside the corn fields near Mount Kilimanjaro.

For other Box Girls, the sport is an end unto itself.

Jane Atieno, 24, is going to the Olympics to represent Kenya in boxing.

When others in the community see Sarah Ndisi, 24, a professional boxer, boxing and going to the gym and fighting and maybe coming back with a belt, it can change many attitudes.

Ndisi said she leads by example. When people see her achieving, that can change attitudes in the community.

Still, men tell her that she won’t get married because men will find her intimidating and unfeminine.

“If you can’t accept me, don’t,” she said.

Men want to prove that they’re physically stronger than a woman.

They want to fight, Atieno said.

“The best thing is to just ignore them,” she said.

They heckle and tease, harass and prod.

“They want you to react,” she said.

But the women don’t go around hitting people outside of the ring.

Boxing teaches control, and if you can control a solid, tight jab with your fist, then you can control your reaction to the things men say, Ndisi said.

Still, it’s not all about feelings.

Atieno didn’t get to the Olympics with self-confidence alone. When she gets in the ring with a man, those negative words about women suddenly don’t matter.

“When you come to the gym or get into the ring, it’s obvious,” she said. “I will beat you.”

Source: http://www.goupstate.com/article/20120304/ARTICLES/203041006?p=all&tc=pgall

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Posted in Kenya | 3 Comments »

Kenyans turn to ill-equipped health facilities

Posted by Administrator on March 5, 2012

NAIROBI- An ongoing strike by government nurses and other health workers has made many Kenyan families, especially low-income earners, to seek healthcare in ill-equipped private health facilities.

Distressed family members are turning to low-cost private health facilities, many that are poorly staffed and badly equipped to save lives of their loved ones.

The nurses, whose services are critical in running of health facilities, went on strike on March 1 paralyzing activities in all government hospitals across the East African nation.

The industrial action comes barely two months after government doctors inKenyawent on strike to push for a salary hike.

The health workers are fighting for improved working conditions and a 300 percent salary increase, which they claim has not been implemented by the government despite an existing deal signed in December, 2011.

“The government and the public must be well informed that what we are fighting for is not only money but also improvement of services. Let the government tell us for how long are we going to innovate on how to serve Kenyans,” said Kenya Union of Kenya Civil Servants Secretary General Tom Odege.The union official noted the strike was over 80 per cent successful and health workers will not resume work until their grievances are addressed.

In response to the strike,Kenya’s government has threatened to sack the health workers if they do not return to work.

“We will sack them and employ new nurses, drivers, lab technicians and other workers. We have over 30,000 applications lying in our database,” said Kazungu Kambi, Assistant Minister for Medical Services.

The minister said the government has cleared all the allowances the health workers are claiming.

“They have been paid all their allowances. We have paid nurses working in remote areas 301 US dollars over and above their salaries. We have paid mortuary attendants 84 dollars and drivers 60 dollars,” he said.

And as the standoff persists, Kenyans, who are hard hit by high inflation standing at over 18 per cent according to Kenya Bureau of Standards, have no alternative but to turn to private hospitals and clinics.

Most of those who have health insurance covers are seeking services in established private hospitals. However, it is the low- income earners, who are the majority, that are endangering lives of their loved ones by taking them to questionable health facilities.

“We have been forced to withdraw our aunt from the public hospital and transfer her to a private clinic. This was the second day she had stayed there without getting any medical attention,” George Okoth, whose aunt was admitted atKayoleDistrictHospitalin the capital, said on March 3.

His aunt broke her leg about a month ago and according to Okoth, it needs constant nursing.

“Before we resolved to withdraw her from the hospital, the bandage had not been changed for two days and she was in deep pain. We did not want to risk because we knew like the doctors’ strike in December last year, this may persist for long,” he said.

From the hospital, Okoth recounted he first took his aunt to a renowned private hospital but he could not afford the required admission fee.

“I was asked to pay 121 dollars before they attend to her but I did not have the money. I left and took her to a private clinic in Kayole estate where they admitted her after I paid 24 dollars,” he said.

Although the clinic at the time of admission had only a nurse, Okoth noted that it is better than her staying at the public facility without getting any medical help.

“I wish I could have taken her to a better hospital but I do not have the economic ability. My prayer is that the strike ends soon so that I can return her to the district hospital,” he said.

Like Okoth, Fred Kamiru, a resident of Rongai inNairobi, said his pregnant wife was forced to go for maternity check-up at a private clinic in the estate.

“She has been going to Mbagathi hospital for the past four months but on Friday when she went there, she could not be attended to because nurses were on strike. I asked her to go to a private clinic in the estate as we wait for the strike to end,” he said.

However, even though he is relieved his wife got medical attention, he is worried about his younger brother who is a TB patient.

“His drugs, which he gets from a public hospital, will end on March 6. I hope the strike will be over by then because he may default on treatment thus jeopardize his health. I cannot afford to buy the drugs in a chemist,” he said.

In public hospitals, where the Government adopted a cost- sharing method, patients pay as little as 1.5 dollars for most outpatient services. Similarly, inpatient services, like surgeries, cost as little as 55 dollars.

This is incomparable to established private health facilities where patients pay up to over 120 dollars for outpatient services.

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Kenya’s Donkeys Finally Receive Some Protection

Posted by Administrator on March 5, 2012

In today’s modern world, it is easy to overlook some of the hardest working members of the working class. Donkeys remain a staple of everyday life in many places, but they are often overworked, neglected and mistreated. Now, animal protection groups in Kenya are speaking up for the beasts of burden.

There are approximately 600,000 donkeys in Kenya, the majority of whom move heavy carts filled with water containers, firewood and other necessary supplies for their owners. This is not a bucolic existence. These animals live in crowded conditions, in close contact with stray dogs sometimes infected with rabies. They are occasionally struck by cars on busy highways, are underfed and occasionally beaten.
Jean Gilchrist is the director of the Kenya Society for the Protection and Care of Animals. She has worked with the organization for 26 years, helping to improve the quality of life for animals, including donkeys.

“It’s not just in Kenya either,” said Gilchrist.  “It’s something that happens worldwide. India, Ethiopia, Mexico, I don’t know, it’s something about the donkey that, their role in life, which is basically with the poor people who are scraping a living.” Gilchrist compares donkeys to rental cars, battered and overworked with no regard for their well-being.

“And, very often, the donkeys are hired out to young men that don’t have jobs,” noted Gilchrist.  “And, they don’t care if the donkey collapses and dies. And, a lot of them get beaten so badly, as well, even if they’re running as fast as they can.”
To alleviate this suffering, a British charity called the Donkey Sanctuary has organized mobile health clinics around Kenya, treating thousands of donkeys since 1994. Tabitha Wainaina, a veterinarian, has volunteered in the clinics for the last five years.

“These animals are viewed as working animals,” said Wainaina.  “So the attitude is, as long as they get the work done, then a lot of attention is not paid to their medical care and the kind of nutrition they are getting and the kind of shelter they are being provided with.”
Donkeys are often injured by ill-fitting and improper harnesses. Many owners simply put a rope around the donkey’s neck, causing painful sores when the animal hauls heavy carts.

Daniel Njuguna works for the Donkey Sanctuary, teaching owners how to make their own harnesses from local materials, like blankets, pieces of mattress, or old clothes.
“I help them by telling them, do your donkey like this. Harnessing like this, not that way. I show them how to do it,” said Njuguna.
Njuguna is a vigilant advocate for the donkeys and tries to stop abuse wherever he sees it, including around his own village. It is not easy.
“I tell them, don’t hit your donkey,” Njuguna added.  “Some of them say, ‘No, it is mine! I can do what I like!'”

Donkeys are rarely vaccinated, making them highly susceptible to rabies, tetanus, African horse sickness and worms. But Wainaina says owners are starting to realize the benefits of vaccinations.
“Yes, the moment they are properly educated about the benefits of taking care of their animals, then they realize that the animal is actually going to work better and is going to live longer,” Wainaina noted.  “And that will translate to eventually, better economic output for them.”

For all their efforts, volunteers with the Donkey Sanctuary abide by a very simple motto, “Happy Donkey, Happy Owner.”

Source: http://www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/Relief-at-Last-for-Kenyas-Overworked-Donkeys-141075873.html

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Kenyan suffers a broken nose after being attacked for wearing a West Ham United shirt in London

Posted by Administrator on March 5, 2012

A WEST Ham United supporter who fled across a live track after being attacked on a train says he no longer sees his team play.

Ian Cutler, 41, and his 34-year-old friend Bernard Musau, who was visiting from Kenya, were travelling on a Charing Cross to Gillingham service after attending a match in London on July 31 last  year.

As the train travelled between Swanscombe and Northfleet at around 11.50pm, the men were confronted by 23-year-old David O’Connell, who had been drinking.

After noticing they were wearing West Ham shirts he began shouting before violently assaulting them both.

When the train arrived at Gravesend Mr Cutler and Mr Musau fled the train across the live tracks to escape.

Mr Cutler, from Stroud in Gloucestershire, told News Shopper: “I have no idea why he attacked us.

“I haven’t been up to West Ham since and I haven’t been back to London. I certainly wouldn’t travel on a late night train again.”

The IT manager suffered a fractured eye socket and nose resulting in him losing his sense of smell in his left nostril and requiring two operations.

While Mr Musau, an electrician, suffered a broken nose.

Mr Cutler has given up his season ticket after more than nine years following the attack.

He said: “I miss going to see them play but I don’t feel comfortable. It’s a big disappointment that you can get attacked just for being a football supporter.”

O’Connell, of no fixed address, was jailed for two years and eight months at Maidstone Crown Court on February 21 after pleading guilty to inflicting grievous bodily harm and actual bodily harm.

He was recalled on license to prison to serve the remainder of a three-and-a-half year jail sentence imposed in October 2009 for robbery.

Investigating officer for British Transport Police, Detective Constable Karl Goyns, said: “We welcome the sentence handed down to David O’Connell and hope it sends a clear message that this sort of  wanton, reckless violence will not be tolerated by police or the courts.”

Source: http://www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/news/9570012.West_Ham_fans_cross_live_track_at_Gravesend_to_escape_train_thug/

Posted in Diaspora News | 2 Comments »

MA. Governor Duval Patrick hosts Kenyan envoy to the US

Posted by Administrator on March 5, 2012

Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts hosted the Kenyan Ambassador to the USA H.E Elkanah Odembo at the State House in Boston to discuss Economic co-operation between the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Republic of Kenya 

The two leaders met privately at the Governor’s office and later attended a Kenyan Business Roundtable that was attended by Business leaders interested to learn more about the investment opportunities in Kenya 

At the Event the Kenyan Ambassador made a very good presentation about Kenya and encouraged the investors to study the Kenya Vision 2030 to learn more about great investment opportunities in different sectors of the Economy including Infrastructure, Information and Communication Technology, Tourism, Agriculture and Education.  

The event was organized by the Kenya Diaspora Advisory council of New England and the Massachusetts Governor’s office of International Trade and Investment. See more here

Ambassador Odembo presents the Governor with the finest Kenyan tea bags

Ambassador Odembo presents the Governor with the finest Kenyan tea bags

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Despicable Injustice to an 11 year old boy in Nairobi

Posted by Administrator on March 5, 2012

We often hear stories of children who have been subjected to utmost cruelty by the people who are tasked with keeping them safe, well here on KTN tonite, our reporter Betty Kyallo brings us the story of an 11 year old boy, who now has to live in pain, fear and psychological trauma, after his private parts were chopped off by a city council askari. His crime: playing football in Uhuru Park.

Posted in Kenya | 11 Comments »

U.S. Should Follow Kenya’s Lead on Mobile Payments

Posted by Administrator on March 5, 2012

U.S. bankers and telecom providers seeking to crack the code on how to successfully implement and accelerate mobile payments can take a lesson from their peers in Kenya. This country is at the forefront of a mobile banking revolution that is empowering its citizens and opening up new lines of commerce.

U.S. bankers are just beginning to harness the power and possibilities of mobile banking, but their Kenyan counterparts are using it as the centerpiece of a growth strategy that is succeeding beyond most expectations.

Retail banking is the fastest growing financial services segment in Africa, with double-digit growth expected through 2020. Much of it can be tied to wholesale adoption of mobile banking technology — which is bringing banking to the previously unbanked, and simplifying transactions for the continent’s growing middle class.

In Kenya, most banking transactions were manual just a decade ago. Workers would make day-long trips to visit their local bank branches and endure long queues for hours to fulfill their monthly needs – cashing checks, checking balances, withdrawing savings etc. Along came the M-PESA mobile money transfer service, which introduced a new branchless banking service designed to allow users to complete basic banking transactions without the need to visit a bank branch. The technology underlying the M-PESA service was developed by Vodafone, and then carried by Kenya’s leading mobile phone carrier, Safaricom, with the support of my company’s global services division. When it launched in 2007, M-PESA signed up 900,000 subscribers in Kenya. Today, M-PESA has registered more than 17 million customers.

The success of the mobile payments revolution in Kenya came about because cell phone services grew to be more accessible and convenient than traditional banking services. It used to cost a farmer a half day’s worth of wages to cash a paycheck at the local bank. A farmer can now do this task at virtually no cost and within minutes.

Another important factor is that the Kenyan banking and telecommunications industries coalesced around an innovative, new business model and partnered to build a working ecosystem. As it is now evident, both consumers and providers have benefitted from the region’s rapid, wide-scale adoption.

In Africa, where the 400 million mobile phone users dwarf those with access to landline-based Internet technology, businesses and consumers are skipping steps on the traditional technology development path — and in the process, beginning to elbow their way to a seat of power in the global marketplace. African mobile money transfers are expected to exceed a total value of $200 billion in 2015, accounting for some eight percent of the continent’s gross domestic product, according to a report by Pyramid Research.

Following Kenya’s lead, we expect to see more African countries embracing this technology to deliver money services to simplify transactions in the daily lives of consumers. For example, it will become even more pervasive for users to request advances on their salaries, make rent payments and pay for their groceries on their mobile phones.

The commerce opportunity is both ripe and real: farmers and rural traders in Kenya are connecting with urban sellers on pricing for their commodities via their mobile phones as a best practice. Neighboring African countries are seeing all the social and economic benefits of the mobile payments influence, and wanting to get involved.

It is a time for banks, telco’s and other relevant institutions in the U.S. to focus on the future of mobile money. The Western world should pursue a course of “reverse innovation,” whereby IT professionals, telecommunications experts and bankers immerse themselves in the African-spawned technical and marketing innovations around mobile payments and engineer them to work in other countries and geographies to deliver new services. With simpler transactions and technology-enabled applications, mobile payments can emerge as one of the world’s great innovations.

Consider that there are more than 5 billion cell phones in the hands of the vast majority of the world’s adult population. The exchange of value using mobile phones is poised to be the biggest undisputed revolution in payments history. And Kenya is already there.

While the U.S. continues efforts to bridge the “digital divide” between those who have access to the Internet and those who don’t, Kenyan businesses and governments seem to have conquered that conundrum. From our experience in supporting mobile money services in Kenya, we have witnessed firsthand how the rise of M-PESA has facilitated stronger society connections, fostered new innovations and promoted economic growth. And now the region is basking in the warm glow of opportunity.

The rest of the world should rightfully take notice.

Source: http://www.americanbanker.com/bankthink/us-should-follow-kenya-lead-on-mobile-payments-1047187-1.html

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Zimbabwean woman deported from UK stranded in Kenya airport

Posted by Administrator on March 5, 2012

STRANDED: Zimbabwe woman Agnes Alexander who was deported from the UK ponders her next move at the JKIA yesterday.Photo/Philip Kamakya

STRANDED: Zimbabwe woman Agnes Alexander who was deported from the UK ponders her next move at the JKIA yesterday.Photo/Philip Kamakya

Agnes Alexander Namakonje, 43, has been in the country since October 19 last year when she was deported on the mistaken identity that she was being a Kenyan or Malawian citizen. She has since been held for three months in a jail in Lodwar for allegedly being in Kenya illegally and has refused persistent attempts by Kenyan immigration officers to force her to register as a refugee.

Agnes claims her problems started when UK Border Authority officials deported her claiming she was Rebecca Chitanga whose passport photo they claimed resembled her. When they brought her to Kenya, the documents presented indicated she was not Kenyan. The Malawian government where she was taken also confirmed she was not their national. In Zimbabwe, the government confirmed she was their national but that she had been granted asylum in the UK in 1995.

From Zimbabwe, the UK immigration officials took her to South Africa who turned them away. They came back to Kenya where they dumped her and she was taken into prison for being in Kenya illegally. Two weeks ago, Agnes said a Good Samaritan in Lodwar helped her find her way to Nairobi and she managed to get into the airport. She has since been living at the airport bathing in the public washrooms, sleeping in the floor of the arrival lounge and eating food given to her by wellwishers and employees at the airport.

Yesterday, Agnes narrated a harrowing tale of how she sought the help of the UK high commission to provide her with documents to return home as she had been mistakenly deported. She said the embassy has refused to listen to her plea and have told her to register as a refugee. “I will die here at the airport. No one wants to help me, even those who mistook my identity,” said Agnes who claimed she went to the UK in 1995 after her British born husband was killed by Robert Mugabe’s army veterans who forcefully took their farm and other property.

Agnes said she got married to a Scottish national David Alexander in July last year. Three months after the wedding, she was arrested and deported under the mistaken identity she was Chitanga. “Why can’t those responsible for my deportation take me back to Zimbabwe to verify who l am. I renounced my Zimbabwean citizenship. I am not Kenyan or Malawian. I am not Chitanga!” a distraught Agnes said during the interview.

She said she had been able to keep in touch with her husband who had told her the UK authorities had been prevailing on him to denounce her. “He has been very supportive. I just want to go back and be with him,” she said. She alleged that several Immigration officers have been asking her to pay them Sh250,000 to allow her to get temporary travel documents which will enable her to fly to the UK. She has however refused and insists the UK authorities must take responsibility and fly her back to the UK. – ZimDiaspora

Source: http://www.thezimbabwemail.com/zimbabwe/10834-zimbabwean-woman-deported-from-uk-stranded-in-kenya-airport.html

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