Desirable Future

September 8, 2012

When I talk about desirable future am sure most of you are thinking of your needs and how they should be fulfilled in the future, but that’s being self centered. Think of a desirable future where everyone cares and shows empathy towards one another. This is what I experienced last week on Friday at Baba Dogo, three candidates with a vision for Nairobi Governor Seat. Wow! I must say I was impressed not only by the aspirants but also Baba Dogo Residents.

In Baba Dogo, all known aspirants were invited and three attended. The aspirants present were former teacher and a former councilor Mr.Mutinda Kavemba; Mr. Richard Nyakwaka, a former Rugby player for the Kenya National Team; the former ormer chairman for Nairobi Central Business District Mr. Timothy Muriuki.   All of these aspirants showed empathy by the words they used towards the Baba Dogo residents. Each aspirant rose and presented his credentials to the audience, after which the floor was opened for questions. Wenye nchi (Baba Dogo Residents) had a series of questions that they felt were key to their community, and they listened keenly to the answers.

Affordability is a word known to many, especially Nairobi Residents: life is becoming more difficult for Nairobi residents, with rent, fuel prices, electricity costs and the overall cost of living increasing. This was obviously a pressing issue for Baba Dogo residents, especially for the young people who are growing in this area: An upcoming artist called “Stress Kibao” made my day when he asked what will the candidates do about garbage collection in the area since everything is being charged and many youth are being harrassed by law enforcement. Each aspirant answered the question with a concrete answer. Some spoke of how they are going to recycle the waste and make products that can raise revenue to the residents of Baba Dogo. One interesting answer was young people forming SACCOs (savings and credit co-operative) to get loans and to be contracted for various activities in the area. This really made the audience excited since the aspirants assured the residents that they can even access loans when they are in a SACCO.

This Debate was special and different, with excitement and engagement from both the community and the aspirants, and an excellent rapport between the aspirants. Another thing that moved me is the fact that the candidates talked of reviving tertiary institutions in the area and also the social halls that are used to nurture talents. Of course insecurity had to be addressed, and the aspirants talked of how they will empower the youth in programs that will reduce the rate of insecurity in Baba Dogo and also security at a large in Nairobi. One aspirant spoke of how he was going to engage with the National Government to ensure Nairobi is safe. Health facilities in Baba Dogo also need a big upgrade, and the three candidates’ spoke of how an assessment will be carried out to identify the various departments and facilities that need improvement.

At the end of the debate the audience was entertained by the upcoming artist with his latest single “Stress Kibao.” I am amazed how this debates have turned to be life changing events. Just like Stress Kibao was able to market and share his talent, people are able to tell their stories and the same time inspire others. It’s my wish that Kenya Remains one and united during the elections and after the elections.

More debates coming up in October!


Sauti Yetu Debates: Senator’s Edition

September 7, 2012

Sauti Yetu Debates had its Senator Debate in Korogocho, Friday the 17th of August. Despite inviting all known aspirants, only one aspirant, Timothy Njiiru showed up to the debate. While we were initially disappointed, the audience stayed for several hours, engaging fully and asking many questions.

Njiiru started by giving his vision and ambitions once he gets senator’s seat. He talked of how he is going to fix the loopholes of illegal money circulating in the country. He  mentioned he is going to ensure good structures are put in place that are leading to good governance, once he gets the office.  In the midst of the audience, there was this bishop who had a series of question towards the candidate; one of the questions that caught my attention was the reason why Mr. Njiiru believed he is the best candidate for the job. Mr.Njiiru talked of how he has been through several sets of Civic Education and how he volunteered in several peace building activities in Nairobi County. Mr. Njiiru had to convince the residents of Korogocho he is not to going disappear if he gets the post, and he promised to consider them in his priorities. Distribution of resources in Korogocho was a hot topic for the audience since the place has scarce resources: facilities and social amenities such as hospitals and schools are rare and the population is too large to access the few amenities in the area. Another question dealt with disaster management in the area Disasters have been happening in the area and a lot needs to be done to reduce the impact and frequency of these incidences in the area.

It was a fascinating debate, and despite being disappointed that more aspirants did not show up, the audience was engaged throughout.

Now, for a peace quote of the day:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

PeaceTXT Outreach: Over 23,000 NEW subscribers in the first 3 weeks!

March 26, 2012

By Jacqueline Njeru, Sisi ni Amani Kenya Programs Manager

The new year has been truly great for SNA-K. We have a series of community sensitization programs as well as a project with PeaceTXT to upgrade our SMS system to an open-source and scaleable tool, and to increase our subscriber base!

We are all very excited about these new programs, and I wanted to take a moment to share with you my reflections on our expanded outreach in Nairobi. Our work to increase our subscriber base in Nairobi, will focus on Baba Dogo; Korogocho: Huruma: Kariobangi and Mathare. In Narok we will be doing outreach in Narok North, Narok South and Transmara.

The first ten days of outreach to increase our subscriber base focused on the Baba Dogo and Korogocho slums in Nairobi. In ten days over 9,500 new subscribers signed up to receive SMS from SNA-K, thanks to the high level of commitment and dedication from our twenty outreach facilitators! Last week we expanded outreach to Kariobangi, Mathare and Huruma, and these outreach facilitators were joined by another group of outreach facilitators, with whom they attended the teambuilding training. Last week alone, forty-four outreach facilitators signed up over 13,000 new subscribers – our total number of subscribers is now over 23,000!

All of the wonderful outreach facilitators come from various youth groups and represent different groups within the areas where we work – we want to thank them: you are the BEST, we cannot make it without you!! We have been receiving and continue to receive positive response from the community, which is indicated by high number of new subscribers. Moreover, most groups that our outreach facilitators have had a chance to engage with and talk to have expressed a high interest in networking and working closely with Sisi ni Amani. We are excited to work together with these individuals to create new opportunities for civic education and civic engagement through our unique component of the SMS platform.

We have faced some challenge in recruiting subscribers, but are finding ways to overcome these challenges. For example, at first volunteers did not have ID badges and it was harder for them to gain trust and credibility. As outreach went on, the volunteers were given ID badges and more community members knew about SNA-K, and this challenge of gaining trust was minimized.  There was also an issue of insecurity (because of high levels of thievery) in some areas where volunteers planned outreach.  Koch FM, the community radio station with whom we’ve partnered on a discussion of community needs let us use their space so that volunteers could leave their phones and any valuables at the radio station when they went into insecure areas, and come sign them back out later.

As we move forward expanding our activities and subscriber base, it is important that we work for our community with the top priority and top most purpose being to improve the lives and relationships of those around us. This requires that we all have a heart of volunteerism and a passion for peace, and that we work closely with key leaders in the communities where we work. From here, we will be able to achieve a lot even if its’ on a small scale.

The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step and our journey as Kenyans especially in the areas where SNA-K is present is to have a positive peace based on active cooperation within communities and a foundation of solid civic education and positive civic engagement. Pamoja, tuweze kuijenga Nchi Yetu tukufu ya Kenya.