Nairobi Carnival – A first in Kenya

Nairobi Carnival – A first in Kenya

Kenya News

Flying matatu. Puppets. Pomp and color. Aspects that characterized the Nairobi Carnival. The first of its kind in Nairobi, Kenya held on the 14th April, 2018 at the Riruta stadium. It was aimed at creating awareness on the rights of children living in the streets.

It was a collaborative effort from the governmental, non- governmental organizations, members of the community and the VIP’s of the day youth and children from the different areas- Mutindwa, Kawangware and Ngong were present.

The day was aimed at giving millions of street children a voice. The procession kicked off at Riruta stadium traversing through Carwash area to Kivuli then to Satelite and finally culminating at the stadium.  This was an opportunity for members of the community to get to learn on the rights of street children who also got to showcase their talents.

Children and the youth living in the streets are vulnerable, marginalized and at risk. This year’s theme is driven on the four steps of equality; Commit to equality-recognize street children have the same rights as everyone else and reflect that in the law.

Protect every child –protect street children from violence and abuse and ensure children have access to justice when they are harmed.

Provide access to services-enable access to essential services as every other child, such as hospitals and schools so they can reach their full potential

Create new solutions-deliver specialized services and opportunities that tune into the unique needs, talents and challenges of life for street children.

Children following the proceedings of the carnival

This is aimed at sending a message to governments and non-governmental institutions to see the issue of street children is included in policy making. The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva has previously held discussions on the issue of children living in the streets from which certain actions need to be implemented such as listening to street children and adopting integrated approaches.

As the world marked international Day for Street Children the real change agents are each and every one of us who ensures that we upheld their rights and work towards making their lives better.

Influencing the Community through Music

Influencing the Community through Music

Kenya News

“Poverty, corruption, terrorist attacks, each and every day, no matter what people say they run to the savior, saved by the savior, Young Prince representing ’’  lyrics to the song Poverty by Humble, playing on a local radio station Mtaani Radio.

18 year old Evans Mutwiri alias Humble Prince is a young and upcoming artist from a small village, Katharaka in Meru County, Kenya.  In the recent past his music has been getting a lot of air play in the local media. His song “Poverty” talks about social ills that human beings go through every day and that the only way out is to seek help from the Almighty God.

Having lived in the cold streets of Nairobi for one year, he knows too well how challenging life can get. Nairobi is normally viewed as the land of opportunities by many villagers, travelling to Nairobi is a trip that is viewed as one that that will actualize ones dreams to reality similar to attaining the American dreams. Prince was aware of the good life in Nairobi at a young age and when his aunt visited the village one December holiday he knew this was his golden opportunity to travel to the big city, which he sure did. On arriving in Nairobi reality hit home. Even at his tender age of 5 years he knew this was not what he had anticipated.

His aunt lived in Kibera –the largest slum in Kenya. Life here was not as peaceful as that of the village and as time went by it turned to be more difficult. At the age of 6 he was roaming through the streets of Nairobi trying to fend for himself after life with his aunt became unbearable.

Being so young and alone in the streets made him prone to being bullied by the other big boys, luckily for him Koinonia Community came to his rescue. In 2004, the Koinonia Community social workers were up and about in their street work where they strive to reduce the number of children in the streets below 15 years. It was during that time when they noticed Prince, who expressed his desire to get a good life and education.   

He was among the boys that got rescued to join Ndugu Mdogo that year. During his stay at the center he was able to discover his talents –singing and dancing, and he knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life which is music.

In 2017 he got to travel to Tanzania, where he got to perfect his vocal and song writing skills at the High Table sounds owned and managed by  Barnaba Classic a renowned Tanzanian artist. To date Prince has managed to release 5 audio singles and one video to his latest track Poverty.

He looks forward to making great music that will be able to transform lives positively.

His music can be found online under the name-Humble Prince.

World Radio Day 2018

World Radio Day 2018

Kenya News

“Radio reaches the widest audience in the world!”

In an era of dramatic advances in communications, radio retains its power to entertain, educate, inform and inspire.’’ The words of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in his message to the world as it celebrates World Radio Day.

This is the 7th edition since its inception in 2012 following its declaration by UNESCO General Conference, thereafter it was adopted as the international day by the United Nations General Assembly.

Radio was first discovered in 1902 and since then has served as a main source when listening to news and music.  Radio stood witness to some of the greatest events in history and brocasted live events. For instance on July 31st 1982 during the attempted coup that saw legendary radio personality Leonard Mambo Mbotela inform Kenyans on the events that were unfolding. This was 36 years ago and up to date radio still remains relevant even with the emergence of new technologies in television, film, among others.

As the world marks World Radio Day under the theme; Radio and sports for peace and uniting communities, Kenya Community Media Network- KCOMNET organized celebrations held at Kivuli Center home to Mtaani Radio a community radio based in Dagoretti sub-county, Nairobi County.

Present at the event were different stakeholders representing various organizations, sporting entities and various representatives from community radios in the country to discuss matter sports and peace building and the importance in the development of the community.

According to Anthony Ngare, the deputy Director of Expression and Media Development Information and Communication Programme at the UNESCO, he indicated that one of the attributes that makes radio effective is the fact that it has the ability to reach different people regardless of their social status and also been a key component in spreading peace in different communities. Alfred Kibunja a team building professional in addition added that sports is key in a community as it promotes teamwork, essential values that unit us towards a better Kenya.

Through the incorporation of sporting activities communities have been united and empowered as well as giving voice to the marginalized communities.

What makes radio cool is the element of surprise and its uniqueness to enable one create mental pictures in addition to its ability to communicate to one person.

Education of Re-integrated Beneficiaries

Education of Re-integrated Beneficiaries

Kenya News

January is normally characterized by children heading back to school for the first term of the year in Kenya.

It is no different at Koinonia Community Rescue Centers who this year have successfully ensured that 58 boys and girls they have  joined school with the youngest joining pre-unit while the oldest joined standard seven, one joined high school while two others have joined technical institutions.

The two rescue centers; Mother House and Ndugu Mdogo have this year recorded a 95% successful reintegration process of 48 boys and girls.

The rescues are managed by six social workers who have ensured the children, who were rescued from the streets and vulnerable situations early 2017, are successfully rehabilitated and get to resume their education. The rehabilitation process is not an easy as it requires a lot of patience in dealing with the children and other elements so as to attain the desired outcome.

Social workers have taken the children through various activities and counselling sessions to successfully rehabilitate them effectively. The process has been successful due to the involvement of parents in their children lives as well as having frequent home visits.

As 2018 kicks in social workers will be hitting the streets once again to rescue more children who will be rehabilitated and reintegrated back to their families.

Children are a blessing to the universe and it the role of adults to ensure they get a good life so as to become better citizens and make the world a better place.

Universal Children’s Day 2017

Kenya News

Children are one of the most treasured possessions on earth.  Kenya joins the world in marking Universal Children’s Day on the  20th  November.

This is a day aimed at creating awareness on children rights and preventing their exploitation.

Research indicates that about 80% of children living in Child Care Institutions (CCI) are not orphans but have been placed there due to other reasons such as poverty, neglect or domestic violence. Grace Mwangi , Country Manager at Give a Child a Family states that such factors push factors that distance a child from its family thus ending up at CCI’s or the streets.

Koinonia Community is one such institution that looks to rescue and rehabilitate vulnerable and street children and ultimately ensuring that they are reintegrated back to their families as a family is the best place a child should grow up in.

Koinonia Community has organized a three day children conference as a build up activity towards Universal Children’s Day. During the three days they have organized activities in line with this year’s theme ’’It’s a Kids takeover’’.

Hundreds of children, current and former beneficiaries of the institution gathered together to share their experiences of growing up in a CCI and at home. Plenty of times adults get to determine what happens in the lives of children however it’s always wise to get feedback from the children themselves. This conference gave the children an opportunity to open up about the benefits and challenges of living at home and at a CCI. In addition they got to share their preferred recommendations that they would wish to see implemented both at home and at the CCI’s. This way guardian can make informed decisions about children.

The conference was moderated by peer educators who are former beneficiaries of Koinonia Community. They used this opportunity to share their experiences that shaped them to becoming responsible individuals. Additionally the children were taught about their rights and responsibilities as the two go hand in hand.

John Kamau  high school student and one of the peer educators  believes that through upholding children rights they will be able to get quality education as well as achieve their dreams .

Scaling the Heights

Scaling the Heights

Kenya News

She is graceful and her laughter lights up a room. 15 year old Grace Njeri* is among the over one million candidates sitting for their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams in the country. She is also among hundreds of children under the care of Koinonia Community.

Grace was admitted to Koinonia in 2009 when she was only 6 years old. Life at home had become unbearable after her father abandoned them and her mother became the sole bread winner.  Life in the city became too costly and they were forced to relocate to the rural area. A few years after their relocation her mother passed on leaving her in the care of her grandmother. It was during this time that she found a new home at Anita Home, one of the Koinonia centers that cares for girls.

At Anita Home she met other girls who had been through difficult situations at home and / or in the streets.  Njeri* has been improving academically over the years, reading from her grades. This has gone a long way in helping secure a well-wisher to cater for her education. As she sits for her KCPE she hopes to score highly and join a reputable high school. This is not the only thing that she is looking forward to, as she is among 15 Koinonia Community beneficiaries who will be reintegrated back to their families at the end of the year. This is not an easy journey for her or the other 14 teenagers. However the Families to Families project has been conducting workshops throughout the year to enable a smooth transition. The workshops have equipped the teenagers with skills and prepared them for the impending transition in their lives.

A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Njeri’s dream is get into the hospitality industry where she can be of service to different people.

Child Family Reunification Meeting

Child Family Reunification Meeting

Kenya News

The Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) is just around the corner, set for the first week of November. Children from various centers- Kivuli, Tone la Maji and Anita Home will also be taking part in this year’s examination after which they will be reintegrated back to their families.

Throughout the year parents have been attending seminars to enable them prepare mentally and physically towards the arrival of their children from the centers. During the seminars parents are equipped with information on ways in which they can become responsible parents and how to build a solid relationship between the parent and the child.

The last seminar of the year took place at Shalom House on the 30th of September, which was conducted by Ambassador Edwin Tiego, a mentorship coordinator. In the session he did emphasize the importance of the role of a parent in the life of a child which he illustrated through a narrative of how  a pilot is able to steer an airplane from one destination to another.  The pilot is able to achieve this effectively through instructions issued to them from the control tower. The control tower is this instance symbolized the role of a parent in the life of a child. A good parent is one who is able to issue effective direction and morals to their child which they can emulate to become responsible individuals.

It is important to note that in life one is bound to make mistakes and children are no exception, for this reason parents should be able to correct their children in ways in which the children can learn from their mistakes and avoid them in future. There is also the need for parents to reward good behavior as a way of shaping behavior.

Mr. Tiego encouraged the use of the 3F’s in parenting –Firmness, parents should be firm in the decisions they make in regard to their children while at the same time being Fair in the kind of punishment they give their children and most importantly be Friends with their children as that is the only way they will detect any changes in their children lives.

Psycho-support Parents/Guardians meeting

Psycho-support Parents/Guardians meeting

Kenya News

Koinonia Community have been at the fore front impacting the lives of community members through the rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration of children from the streets.

A family set up is the best place for a child to grow in thus the need for children to be reintegrated back to their families. The reintegration part greatly involves parents being able to build a relationship with their children that will deter them from heading back to the streets.  It is due to this cause that Koinonia Community organizes forums for parents and guardians to be guided on ways in which they will relate with their children once they return home.

Pycho-social support is important as it helps parents understand the important role they are expected to play in the upbringing of their children. It also helps parents explore and find practical ways in which they can do this. Pycho-social support sessions include having one on one counselling sessions with the parents to get to understand the different challenges they are going through, after which they are helped to come up with practical solutions. One such session was held in Shalom House, on Saturday 29th July 2017.

Many of the children rescued from the streets have absentee parents or some live on the streets with their children. It is important for the guardians to understand the value of being a responsible parent as it guides a child to being a responsible citizen in future. Parents are encouraged to be engage with their children as well as looking for alternative means of survival that will not result in their children heading back to the streets. There is bound to have disagreements between parents and their children and parents should ensure that they solve such with sober minds.

The discussions were moderated by various counselors, Jane Njeri, Grace Mwangi , Robert Kheyi  and Sammyl Mwangi. The sessions will continue whereby parents and guardians will be guided on ways they find meaningful employment or have start up businesses.

Recognizing the Best Performers in Koinonia

Recognizing the Best Performers in Koinonia

Kenya News

Success cannot be achieved unless someone has the vision and desire- the words of Mr. Harrison Kyalo, Koinonia Community Administrator during the 2nd edition of Koinonia Recognition Event that took place on 28th July 2017 at Paolo’s Home in Kibera.

This is a day set aside in the Koinonia calendar aimed at honoring individuals and projects that have performed well in attaining certain goals as a means of motivation, in the last year.

The recognition had been based on two sections the Income Generating Activities (IGA’s)/Social enterprise and Social Projects, which were further classified into five categories- Innovation and Growth, Improved projects, Family Involvement, Resource mobilization and networking and Finance Managements.

Best performers in the Social Enterprise category included;

Kivuli Trailoring School – Quality of Service and Compliance award.

Shalom House and Baraza Café – CSR and Community Service award.

Riruta Health Project – Finance Management and Sustainability award.

Domus Marie School –   HR Opportunities and Dedication award.

Shalom IT Center – Innovation and Growth award.

 

Best performers among the Social Projects included;

Anita Home – Best care practices (Behavior, Education and Talent Development) award.

Families to families – Family involvement and Empowerment award.

Rescue centers – Finance Management and Sustainability award.

Tone la Maji – HR Opportunities and Dedication award.

Paolo’s Home – Resource mobilization and networking award.

It was also important to recognize the efforts of projects and social enterprises that had shown great improvement in the last one year.

Most improved social enterprise were Riruta Health Project and Domus Marie, while most improved social projects were Anita Home and Paolo’s Home.

Best performed and projects that greatly improved this time round were awarded greatly in that they issued with vouchers, gifts in addition to certificates for the projects and individual certificates for the members in the best performing projects.

At the end of the event one thing was clear that it takes a team to succeed. Janet Nyongesa, the manager at Paolo’s Home urged her fellow colleagues to work with passion for the children and the community as that is what Koinonia Community has envisioned to fulfill since inception.

Reintegration Seminar for Parents

Kenya News

Reintegration is the process through which children that have been successfully rehabilitate from the streets are introduced back to their families. The reintegration process focusses on three key points; retention of a child in the family setting, safety and wellbeing of the child.

Families to Families is a Koinonia Community project mandated to help both parents and children through the process of reintegration. A family setting is the best place for a child to grow in thus the need for reintegration as a human being is incomplete without a family.

The 1st Saturday saw the first parents reintegration seminar held at Shalom House, the key aim being to help prepare them on the coming home of their children. Kenneth Kariuki, a family counselor talked of some of the influences that affect children that may lead them in having deviant behavior. The influences include media, social media, peer pressure, religion, gambling, music, fashion, community and most importantly parents. Many at times various children run to the streets to seek refuge due to these influences as well as improper parenting where a child may feel unloved and unwanted. It is therefore important that parents have a convincing power towards decisions their children make in their lives. This is important as failure to which they may end up being misguided.

For a child to be comfortable in being reintegrated back to the home it is important for the environment to be conducive  a home where the child feels loved, where the child can freely express their opinions, the parent to always be available for the child and being a good role model. As a result children can talk freely to their parents about various challenges and changes in their lives and in turn parents are able to note the various changes in their children.

Parents were urged to always offer good parenting to their children through loving them and being supportive to their children. This process of reintegration is set to continue until their children are successfully reintegrated back home in November, a journey that parents, children and Koinonia Community will happily travel together.