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Onward Ronnie OsumbaNearly all of us will remember the last presidential election in 2013. Peter Kenneth was one of the candidates. Beside him was his running mate RONNIE OSUMBA.

Ronnie was by far the youngest running mate ever and he was the hope of change for the young generation of Kenyans.

Last year Ronnie has founded a new youth movement called: ONWARD

Eyes-on-Kwale has watched them for quite a while to see if they really could come up with potential ideas, programs and actions which could make a positive impact on our lives. We think it´s time now for all of us to have a look what they are doing and what they did achieve.

Onward PillarsThe ONWARD movement is a vital, flat and small organization based on the founder Ronnie Osumba, who grouped 5 young and powerful activists around him.

Within this team the team Coordinator Boniface Gor organizes the departments Recruitment, Advocacy, Communication, Programs. Interesting to know that Ronnie – from day 1 on – decided to avoid any kind of political sponsorship to be independent.

The ONWARD platform is self-financed but of cores, they need some donations and funds to enlarge their scope of activities.

We have asked Ronnie to describe his ONWARD movement for us – here is what wrote to all of us:

“ It is Nelson Mandela who said that sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. And similarly, Longfellow held that lives of all great men remind us, that we can make our lives sublime, and departing, leave behind us footprints in the sands of time.

Onward is a youthful social action platform for a generation that seeks to influence change and impact lives.

Centre to Onward’s conception was social empathy and the higher ideals of integrity and altruism. Our deepest aspiration is to influence a ‘forlorn’, apathetic and indifferent world into action –for the better. This way, we hope to redeem and restore humanity’s dignity and confidence in self, and oneness.

Onward operates around five pillars: Education, Healthcare, Urban Development, Peace & Security, and Youth & Vulnerable.

In Education, we champion for an affordable yet globally competitive system. This stems from the understanding that the measure of a society is in the quality of education that it offers its members. And while we advocate for formal education, we recognize the place of self education.

Onward 2 optomized

In Healthcare we envision an effective and affordable system. Adequately equipped facilities, both in terms of human resource and up-to-date equipment. We strive to sensitize communities on preventive measures that would go along way in shaping lifestyles and mortality rates.

In Urban Development, we have a special focus in ensuring that communities are educated on the importance of basic hygiene. This is to ensure that hygiene-related ailments are drastically reduced. We also press to ensure access to clean water in urban areas. Above all, we focus on ensuring the security of the structures within which residents reside.

On Peace & Security, we seek to achieve a secure environment around which community members can operate and progress without fear. We aspire for a well equipped and responsive security apparatus, and for genuine peace and reconciliation in areas affected by violence, past or present.

Lastly, in Youth & Vulnerable, we aspire for empowered young people who live out their full potential, and for a system that protects and adequately provides for it’s vulnerable. In achieving our goals we have, and always will employ advocacy –through policy papers, and direct involvement with communities.

Onward 5 optomized

As it stands we have multiple projects running across various universities through the Onward University Chapters. We also have engagements, most notably, the spontaneous settlements of Nairobi ( Kibera, Mathare etc) Since its inception Onward has, and continues to influence and shape the destinies of individuals and communities through its ‘high impact and sustainable projects’. It, however, doesn’t escape us that we require different partnerships and community good-will to realize our vision. It is in this vain that we constantly reach out to willing citizens, either as individuals or in group to join hands with us in this most noble course. It is our hope that we, sooner than later, will be able to get involved actively throughout this country and even beyond. We request all who see, as we see, the urgent need to inspire hope in a ‘ship-wrecked’ society to join hands with us in this journey.“

From our point of view the ONWARD project is on a very good way. It´s the right time to consider supporting them and join the movement. It could be a good for our Kwale County. You have to have a look: www.onward.co.ke …. or ….. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Onward/315988418593006?ref=ts&fref=t

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On Sunday the 8th of march, during an event to mark the International Women’s Day, the TNA nominated Member of County Assembly Hon. Fatuma Nchizumo informed the gathering that she has developed a Bill in the assembly to curb the pornography and same sex relationships. The proposed law comes hot on the heels of the recent hullabaloo about young men alleged to be having sex with fellow young and older men in Diani Beach and Ukunda township.

If this Bill becomes law, Ms Nchizumo will go to the annals of history as a woman leader in Kwale who made a difference-a moral difference for that matter. Whether or not the Nchizumo Bill will sail through depends largely on the vote of the male dominated assembly. But I want to believe that Ms Nchizumo has all it takes to convince both male and female MCAs to see the logic in the law she is coming up with. In fact, I doubt if there is a single soul in the assembly who supports the barbaric act that gained prominence recently in the social media, but which until now, has seldom received the condemnation it deserves among the local political leadership.

Msambweni Sub-county Maendeleo ya Wanawake Chairperson, Zeituni Bakari Semayote addressing participants during the International Women’s Day at Nyumba Mbovu in Kinondo Ward, Msambweni Sub-county

Msambweni Sub-county Maendeleo ya Wanawake Chairperson, Zeituni Bakari Semayote addressing participants during the International Women’s Day at Nyumba Mbovu in Kinondo Ward, Msambweni Sub-county

But Ms Nchizumo’s hitherto noble cause doesn’t reflect the broader character of the Kwale woman, if what transpired during yesterday’s celebrations is anything to go by. Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organization which organized the event at Nyumba Mbovu in Juma Maone’s Kinondo Ward, is apparently a divided house. While a team led by the organization’s Msambweni Chairperson, Zeituni Bakari Semayote was holding a meeting at Nyumba Mbovu, another faction of MYWO allied to Kwale Couty Women Representative, Zainab Chidzuga was allegedly being ferried in mini buses to Baraza Park in Kwale town, where a similar celebration was taking place.

Although Msambweni and Matuga are two distinct sub-counties, meaning there was no harm in the leaders from the two areas organizing their IWD celebrations independently, observers read mistrust and disunity among women leaders in Kwale. That the county’s senior-most women representative in the national assembly chose to take sides during an occasion which was meant to showcase solidarity among women worldwide, Ms Chidzuga’s leadership skills and of course, ability to unite and inspire the womenfolk in Kwale was put to test.

Which brings me to question what interest Ms Chidzuga has in the politics of Maendeleo ya Wanawake-where she is the immediate former County Chairperson. Those whose political eyes were open in the 1980s and 1990s will remember that the oldest women organization in Kenya is perhaps the most used-if not misused outfits by political leaders to achieve their selfish interests. For a long time, MYWO was literally a women’s wing of the then ruling KANU. But with the falling from grace of the KANU regime, it was thought that Maendeleo would also grow with the democratic space achieved in the post KANU era. This does not seem to be the case, nearly twenty years since the disastrous fall of the jogoo party.

The question Kwale women leaders must now ask themselves is three-fold:

Do they see any reason for independence in the 21st Century ?

Do they think they have a political role to play in the devolved Kwale ?

If they can’t converge at a central place and deliberate on issues affecting them during an international occasion, do they ever hope to realize their aspiration of being considered equal partners with their male counterparts in building Kwale County ?

The women organization’s apparent crack contradicted this year’s theme “Make it Happen”- a slogan which was seen by many as a way of steering women leadership to greater heights.

Division among womenfolk in Kenya and Kwale in particular has been cited as the major reason women have failed to win elective positions over the years. Out of the twenty electoral wards in Kwale County, there is no single elected woman. Apart from Ms Chidzuga, the only other woman who has been elected to parliament was Ms Marere wa Mwachai nearly two decades ago. The ten women in the county assembly are beneficiaries of the affirmative action courtesy of the new constitution.

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Civil society organizations working in Kwale County will soon have a central secretariat if the talks among leaders of various local organizations bear fruit. The objective of establishing an umbrella body for the local community based organizations and groups has been made necessary by the presence of so many organizations whose mandate is not clear. The proliferation of groups doing community work has resulted in duplication of projects and activities whose impact is hardly felt on the ground.

In September last year, the local CSOs operating mainly in Msambweni, Matuga and Kinango held a meeting in which it was resolved that the civil society should strengthen networks and have common positions on issues affecting the community. Subsequently, an idea of coming up with Kwale County Civil Society Working Group (KCCSWG) was floated. Though largely a loose out, the group has been instrumental in bringing various organization working in Kwale to adopt a common position on a number of governance issues of interest to the Kwale people. Among the issues that the group has made its presence felt in include the Mining Bill 2014, the Kwale County Bursary Bill which has since been enacted into law. Recently, the group was among participants in the poorly attended meeting to discuss the public participation bill at Red Cross hall in Ukunda.

The group representatives led by Kwale Human Rights Network Coordinator George Jaramba, poked holes in the bill which they informed the County Assembly’s Committee on Justice and Delegated Legislation that needed more input from the public before it is taken for debate in the assembly. The group also presented views to the task-force on historical injustices which sat in Mombasa late last year.

But the group now seeks to formalize itself and play a more vital role of establishing strong networks and work towards influencing policy direction at the county government departments. If it finally formalizes, the group’s likely pioneer members will be Kwale Human Rights Network (Kwale Hurinet), Kwale County Natural Resources Network (KCNRN), Kwale County Education Network (KCEN) and Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) which operates in all the six coastal counties.

Atrash Muhammad Ali - Regional Manager Aga Khan Foundation

Atrash Muhammad Ali – Regional Manager Aga Khan Foundation

Others include Lamukani CBO and Msambweni Human Rights Watch (Msamwatch) both of which are affiliate members of Kwale Hurinet. The three networks are currently partnering with Aga Khan Foundation-Kenya in Kwale to implement a project dubbed  Citizen Voices in Governance. The project focuses on promotion of gender equality, education and livelihoods through sustainable development. The three networks are working closely with the relevant departments at the county government to implement the project aimed at enhancing equal opportunities for gender participation in governance as well as address the dwindling education standard in Kwale. The livelihood component which is undertaken by KCNRN is crucial in uplifting the lives of the local populace in the face of the increase of extractive industry in the sub-region.

Aga Khan Foundation-Kenya Coast Regional Manger Atrash Mohamed addressing a capacity building workshop at Hillpark Hotel in Kwale

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A Non Governmental Organization has stepped up a great campaign called “ Count Every Child ” to issue all children with birth certificates. Plan International-Kwale Program Unit has partnered with the department of civil registration to ensure that all children born in Kwale are registered accordingly.

Birth Certificates for ChildrenDubbed “Count Every Child”, the campaign aims at promoting birth registration as a right for all children. This will ease the challenge parents go through when their children are due to register for national exams both at primary and secondary levels. Since the introduction of Free Primary Education by the Narc government in 2003, the government put in place a policy that requires all candidates to present birth certificates before registering for national examinations.

The failure to register a child continues to present enormous challenges especially to KCPE and KCSE candidates in Kwale County. This effectively has hampered their education, healthcare and legal protection. Failure to register children at an early age may in future force the victims to bear the burden of proving their citizenship. Consequently, the right to participate in the electoral process may be taken away when they attain adulthood. They may also be barred from accessing employment, loans, opening bank accounts, registering business, joining welfare groups and participating in the development of their county.

According to Plan International Program Unit manager Mr. John Okandi Kogada birth registration is a fundamental right which if denied may present real obstacles to many children around the globe. “Birth registration is a fundamental right. Birth registration allows a child to more easily access social services such as education and health care, prove who and how old he is thus helping to protect against child labour and child marriage and also helping them to have national identity making it easier to fight abuse and child trafficking,” Said Okandi.

Speaking in Lutsangani location in Kinango sub-county during the handing over of birth certificates to registered pupils , Mr. Okandi indicated that the organization is aiming to promote birth registration at grassroots level to increase awareness and therefore demand for certificates and also create innovative programmes for registration that are effective and sustainable to reach even the most remote populations. He said that the organization will work with the government of Kenya to ensure every child get the right to be registered.
“Plan as a child centered organization will continue working with the government of Kenya to ensure that this right is provided to all children not only here in Kwale but across the country and also at the global level,” said Okandi.

Plan Kenya has supported infrastructure development to enable use of ICT for birth registration, equipment support for use of ICT, digitization of historical records for upgrade to an ICT data base and extensive community awareness on child rights and importance of birth registration.  In the last three month the organization has been able to register over 5,000 children out of the targeted 20,000 children in Kenya.

Kinango officer of registration of Persons  - Lenard Maluvu - handing over birth certificate to a student

Kinango officer of registration of Persons – Lenard Maluvu – handing over birth certificate to a student

Kinango officer of registration of Persons Lenard Maluvu said that ignorance among the parents has led to failure of child registration. “Lack of national identity cards among the parents is also a challenge as a child cannot be registered without the identity of both parents,” said Malavu.

He urged parents to register their children before they attain the age of six months to avoid challenges that come with late registration. The officer blamed illiteracy among the parents as a factor in delaying the process as many parents have no knowledge on what to do to ensure their children are registered.

Over 600 pupils from Tsunza, Dzivani, Chizini and Gandini primary schools were registered. Other beneficiaries included Ruwatech Academy and Tsunza secondary school

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Cradle children foundation under sponsorship of Terre des Homes has launched a very important project in Kwale County with aim of addressing the issue of commercial sexual exploitation of children.

The foundations’ Chief executive officer Milly Lwanga said that most cases of children abused for commercially sexually reasons in the area have been rampant. According to various research conducted shows in the area shows the situation is worse and it need urgent intervention.

Cradle Children Foundation - CEO - Milly Lwanga

Cradle Children Foundation – CEO – Milly Lwanga

“Various government organs like kwale children department and probation working in the area confirmed the issue then Cradle decided to chip in to provide legal assistant, rescue services and rehabilitation of children engaged in commercial sex work. We are targeting children who are victim and those in risk of being affected by the problem of sexual exploitation.By 2015 we want to reach a total number of about 2000 children through clubs in schools where we will sensitize them on how to address the vice and counter it because the risk is eminent and they face it every day,” said Lwanga.

Addressing stakeholders at Kaskazi hotel in Kwale County on Monday during the official launch of the project, Lwanga said that they will be training various government officers dealing with children among them police teachers and children officers and they will advise them on the existence of the laws like sexual offence act and counter traffic and persons act so that they can implement and fully use them.

“We felt it is important to train the officers because there are no cases taken to court of counter traffic and person yet a lot if trafficking of children is happening especially children from other regions being brought down here for commercial sex purposes,” she added.

“ We will will also target sensitizing parents on the need to fight the vice. The little gain parents think they get by exploiting their children to commercial sex is negligible comparing to damage being caused to the child because they are our future support let them partner with us to address the issue ” she said..

Her sentiments were echoed by Terre des Hommes country director Angela Nyamu who said they have 31similar projects spread across 6 counties across the country including Kwale. “ We are operating in Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya in addressing sexual commercial exploitation of children, child trafficking and strengthening protection systems “

The CRADLE was founded primarily by a group of Christian Lawyers to respond to the need for provision of juvenile justice following a research and baseline survey in 1997 on the provision of justice to children in Kenya. The research showed the absence of institutional mechanisms to respond to this issue. The CRADLE was born to respond to this need.

Cradle children foundation

The CRADLE was officially launched on 7th December 1998, on the eve of the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, showing a deliberate choice of a rights -based approach in its work. The launch was held at the United States Information Service by Judge Arline Pacht, the then Chairperson of the International Women Judges Association. The launch was also presided over by Honourable Shem Ochuodho, then Member of Parliament, Rangwe Constituency. The CRADLE institutionalized in 1999 by setting up a pilot and the first legal aid clinic of its kind for children. The CRADLE was originally legally housed by the Women’s Resource Centre and physically by the Coalition on Violence Against Women. It was later registered as a trust and has since operated independently. The CRADLE continues protecting and promoting the rights of the child to date and the programs it runs have expanded significantly.

The CRADLE – The Children’s Foundation
Ms. 2 & 3, Adj. Wood Ave Apartments, Wood Ave. Kilimani,
Tel: +254 (0)20 3874575/6
Telefax: +254 (0)20 2710156
Mobile: 0734 798 199/ 0722 201 875
Email: info@thecradle.or.ke
P.O BOX 10101, 00100 G.P.O, Nairobi, Kenya

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Journalism can make Change – justice is on its way to the innocent Kinango girls.

 

Last Wednesday, Eyes on Kwale carried a story on the runaway sexual offences against young girls in Kinango Sub-county. The story emphasized the apparent indifference by both the community and law enforcement authorities on the menace that has resulted in numerous cases of girls dropping out of primary schools after becoming pregnant.

Last Friday, 2 days after we published, police in Kinango made a couple of arrests and this morning two men were arraigned in Kwale court charged with the offence of defilement under the Sexual Offences Act No. 3 of 2006.

 

Sec-Criminals-in-Kinango-8Nsira Juma aged 40 pleaded not guilty and will be remanded in custody with an option of Ksh 100,000 bond with a similar surety.

Ali Njemo pleaded guilty but the court has ordered further investigations into the matter to determine his age. The court also instructed the police to return to court in fourteen days after assessing the age of the accused person with appropriate report. Ali Njemo himself said his age would be 17 years. The underage girl with whom Njemo committed the offence was a class four pupil and is currently pregnant.

The duo will however will stay in prison till they have to appear in court on July 24th for the mention of their cases. Both suspects allegedly committed the offences with underage girls. If they are found guilty, they risk being sentenced to imprisonment for not less than twenty years including life sentence without an option of a fine.

Eyes on Kwale will keep you posted on the progress of the two cases.

( Note : If Njemo is really 17 he will be considered underage and he will not be sentenced the same way adults are sentenced. If he’s underage he will be remanded in arbostal – a kind of place where young underage boys are detained for about three years )

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Kinango sub-county is adrift with violation on rights of children.

Last March a bizarre incident occurred at Mazola Sub-location in Puma Ward which has left residents dumfounded. A man tied up the hands of his two daughters aged five and seven years respectively; poured paraffin and set fire to the hands of the innocent minors.

Sex-Criminals-in-KinangoJawa Luphande was later to claim that he committed the inhumane act under the influence of alcohol. The mother of the two little angels, Mnyanzi Ruwa, was crestfallen and torn between whether to have her husband charged with assault and bid farewell to the marriage or accept what had happened and move on with the marriage. Coming up with a bold decision has remained a big headache for her.

But her brother, Alfred Ruwa did not take the matter lightly. He took his two nieces to hospital and reported the matter to Kinango police station. But till today, Alfred has not been able to get a P3 form to enable him seek justice for the tSec-Criminals-in-Kinango-4wo girls.

“I have been to the police station often but I’m told the officer who filled the P3 is on leave,” says Alfred, a teacher at Istiqama Secondary School in Kinango. In the absence of a duly filled P3 form, the suspect will walk free because the police have no evidence to charge him for what he allegedly did.

This is but an isolated case. Violations of children rights in Kinango are predominantly sexual. But the prevailing conspiracy of silence among the victims’ families has made the trend spread in the area like gospel.

In one primary school for example, in Puma Ward, Rehema (not her real name) has dropped out of school after conceiving a few months ago. She was in class seven at the time of becoming pregnant. Another under-age girl in the same school and class gave birth recently while another one who sat for KCPE last year did not manage to join form one this year because she just gave birth early in the year. This trend is replicated in all the seven wards making up Kinango Sub-county.

What is worrying is not that such incidents happen to such young girls who are ill-prepared to have a family and are denied the right to education; the apparent indifference that the community exhibits lends credence to the vice.

“There’s a growing fear of victimization of the victims and families either physically or through witchcraft,” says Blandiner Tatu, a community worker in Kinango Ward. Poverty she says, is a driving factor in having girls engage in sex at a tender age.

“Around age 14 is when girls start thinking that they’re beautiful and they need stuff to make them appreciate the feeling; hence their vulnerability to men who will give them small cash tokens to have sex with them,” says Tatu, a community library attendant in Kinango town.

According to David Jiti, a voluntary children officer (VCO) in Kinango sub-county, cases of defilement are rife in all the seven wards. “Every year we receive not less than ten cases of under-age girls who have been made pregnant by persons known to their families. But after reporting, the families of victim don’t make follow up,” says Jiti.

Sec-Criminals-in-Kinango-2Jiti also reveal another challenge he faces.

“There are occasions where a suspect needs to be arrested but the police are having no means of transport,” he says. Kinango Police station has one vehicle which is not in good mechanical shape. At times when there is an urgent matter, the police borrow a vehicle from other government departments. “And at times there is no fuel and the person in need of the service is asked to fuel the vehicle,” says Jiti who also notes that most of the victims of sexual offences come from poor economic backgrounds and cannot afford to help the police fuel vehicles.

Consequently, such cases end up being resolved using alternative dispute resolution mechanisms at the family level between the family of the victim and that of the suspect.

At 15 years of age, Halima is a mother of a 6 months old baby girl. She dropped out of school at class five after conceiving last year. The person she claims to be the father of her child is a form four student at a local school. Halima’s father, a subordinate staff at a private firm in Mombasa is so bitter that his first born daughter is already a mother, uneducated with a baby whose father cannot only take care, but has not admitted liability.

“I’ve received very little support from the authorities to have the person who did this thing to my daughter punished,” says the father, whose name has been concealed to protect Halima. Halima was rescued by an organization taking care of young mothers a few months before she delivered and is currently being taken care of by the organization in a home situated in Diani Beach as the suspected culprit awaits to sit his final exams at a Kwale based school.

Early this year, the police told Halima’s family to help look for the boy and report to police so he can be charged in court. But recently, when a VCO handling Halima’s case reported to Kinango police that he had found out where the boy was (in a local boarding school), Kinango OCS Mary Wanyonyi reportedly told the VCO that arresting the boy in school could lead to students unrest in that school.

As a result of the absence of action taken against the culprits, girls aged less than 18 years have dropped out school after getting pregnant while others have been married off to the fellows who made them pregnant or any available suitor, for that matter.

According to the Sexual Offences Act section 8 (i) “A person who commits an act which causes penetration with a child is guilty of an offence termed defilement;” and that a person who defiles a child aged 11 or less shall “upon conviction be sentenced to imprisonment for life.”

This story has however captured cases of girls between the ages of 14 and 17 which are also catered for by this law. For instance, section 8 (iii) of the same act says thus: “A person who commits an offence of defilement with a child between the age of twelve and fifteen years is liable upon conviction imprisonment for a term not less than twenty years;” while if the same offence is committed against a child aged between 16 and 18 years, the culprit if convicted shall be jailed for not less than 15 years.

The act is also very clear on the punishment that should be administered to suspects who are below the age of 18: “Where the person charged with an offence under this Act is below the age of eighteen years, the court may upon conviction, sentence the accused person in accordance with the provisions of the Borstal Institutions Act and the Children’s Act.”

Despite the perceived harshness of the act, the accused persons have the opportunity for defence in court and the following are the details for defence: It is a defence to a charge under this section if: –

(a) it is proved that such child, deceived the accused person into believing that he or she was over the age of eighteen years at the time of the alleged commission of the offence; and
(b) The accused reasonably believed that the child was over the age of eighteen years. The belief referred to in subsection (b) is to be determined having regard to all the circumstances, including any steps the accused person took to ascertain the age of the complainant.

Sec-Criminals-in-Kinango-3The poor infrastructure in Kinango, inaccessible roads and inadequate medical facilities has made it difficult for survivors to access justice. Gabriel Barasa, a field coordinator of children rights with Kwale Human Rights Network admits that there is a big challenge in Kinango. “The starting point is to conduct a massive community awareness campaigns in Kinango and build the capacity of all players in children issues,” says Barasa adding that his organization is looking for a donor to help put up an office in Kinango to help address the menace.

The story of Kinango depicts it, as a place where the rule of law, as far as children rights are concerned, is absolutely absent.