| Street children kill guard in night raid
Story by MATHIAS RINGA and EUNICE MACHUHI
Publication Date: 6/10/2008
| Street children get lifeline
Story by PATRICK NZIOKA and MIKE MWANIKI
Publication Date: 4/11/2008
| Violence causes number of street children to rise
Story by WANJIRU MACHARIA
Publication Date: 4/4/2008
Story by AMINA KIBIRIGE
Publication Date: 3/17/2008
A Sh6 billion water and sanitation project for Coast region is set to kick off, French ambassador Elisabeth Barbier revealed at the weekend.
“It is a 50-50 project between the French Government and the World Bank where each team is contributing an equivalent of Sh3 billion towards its implementation,” said Ms Barbier.
The envoy said the French Government was also funding a solid waste management project that was under way.
She said the French Government had given Sh1.6 billion to the ministry of Local Government for the waste management projects at the Mombasa and Nakuru municipalities.
The Mombasa municipality would construct a recycling plant at Mwakirunge and a transfer unit at VOK, Bombolulu, in the North Coast.
Deputy mayor John Mcharo promised to fast-track the waste management project.
He reassured the envoy of the council’s seriousness in implementing the projects.
Mr Mcharo said the money which was released by the French Government mid last year had not been fully utilised.
Ms Barbier also inquired about street children rehabilitation project which her Government was keen to assist.
Mayor Ahmed Mohdhar said the issue was part of the agenda at the council’s next meeting.
Mr Mohdhar said the problem was not getting the street children off the streets but where to take them adding that the council could not address the issue alone and “maybe we can come back and seek assistance from your Government”.
Mombasa has approximately 500 street people.
Story by RASNA WARAH
Publication Date: 2/25/2008
…the story that touched me the most was the one of the street children who, instead of spending money on glue or food, took the initiative to buy a “get-well-soon” flower for a hospitalised friend on Valentine’s Day.
When people in Europe were giving their lovers expensive fresh-cut roses (many of which are grown in and exported from the blood-stained lakeside town of Naivasha), a group of 11-year-old street children in Nairobi decided to raise Sh50 to buy a flower for their friend Michael, who they had carried to the Nairobi Women’s and Children’s Hospital following a brutal sexual attack. Since then, they have been visiting their badly injured and traumatised fellow street child at least three times a day.
Nation columnist Mildred Ngesa, who covered the story, describes the compassion shown by the four street children – Kevin Kariuki, David Kuria, Andrew Mungalla and Wallace Mfoyonga – as “an enduring, undeniable lesson on living and loving”. It is a lesson we could all learn from at this turbulent point in our history.
| Police force may recruit former street children
Story by DOMINIC WABALA
Publication Date: 2/17/2008
Story by MACHARIA MWANGI
Publication Date: 1/18/2008
Naivasha Town will soon be bursting at the seams with street children and street adults.
And thanks to a flourishing horticultural industry that has attracted many job seekers, the town’s population is exploding.
Many such job seekers end up in the back streets where they beg, bowl in hand. Those below 10 years station themselves at major shops soliciting for alms from shoppers, while others survive on dump sites from which they forage for food.
But there is order.
Newcomers who fail to adhere to the street rules are punished and the incorrigible ones driven out of town.
“We have our own rules, regulations and guidelines,” says Peter Njoroge.
The streets have been zoned off into three different categories known as “base”, and depend on the age-group and experience in the streets.
“Those below 15 stay in an area named Kaduma (darkness), while older ones while away their day and night at Stage ya Unango (slang for Kinangop bus stop),” says Njoroge.
Being young and largely inexperienced, the Kaduma boys have perfected the art of begging while their Stage ya Unango counterparts are regarded as the “elite”.
The Kaduma street children are not allowed to stray into the territory of the older colleagues, unless they have an urgent message to deliver.
Those flouting the rules are beaten up by the “disciplinary committee” members.
Our visit to the territory attracted suspicious attention. Accompanied by Njoroge, we ventured into one of the bases during the interview, but Njoroge reassured me they meant no harm.
Unperturbed by the sweltering afternoon sun, several street boys had cans of glue firmly stuck to their mouths, while others were fast asleep, snoring.
Other shabbily dressed ones were intoxicated after sniffing glue, and were drooling over, mumbling incomprehensibly.
“This is Salmonde, which acts as our base,” said Njoroge, insisting they no longer went by the name of street children. “We regard ourselves as a street family due to our advanced age,” he adds.
The base is home to those aged 20 and above, the veterans of street life. Half are said to have spent the better part of their lives there.
Their leader is Pilato, and every member of the street family is answerable to him. He is a no-nonsense character who sets the rules to be followed.
“He decides on the mode of discipline, depending of the nature of the offence,” said Njoroge. His word is law.
Those old enough to start a family are allowed to do so, but have to shift to a new home. Crime attracts a beating and a possible expulsion. But Njoroge admitted it was impossible to control all the street children, with their number now estimated at 400, and swelling.
Initiation into street life is brutal. If a newcomer survives the beating, he is considered tough enough to survive the rigorous of the streets.
Words like weedi, ganja, domu and gode, all slang for bhang, are commonplace, suggesting that drugs are a way of life. Boys smoke openly without fear of the authorities.
Njoroge said they were sometimes subjected to traumatising moments by police in case of theft in the area. “They make arbitrary arrests, on suspicion that we are behind these thefts,” he said.
The boys have started a robust dog selling business. According to Njoroge, they have more than 40 dogs that help them feed the group of over 30 lads.
The money from the sales is used for buying food, while any savings is used to bail out those arrested. They also use the money to pay for circumcision.
“We save. The dogs have a ready market, so we can buy food and bail out colleagues in trouble,” said 22-year-old Maulidi Asali.
A four-month old dog fetches Sh300 to Sh400. The dogs eat the same kind of food they eat — from the dustbins.
They know all dogs by name, and if they happen to lose one, they spend a sleepless night looking for it.
Woe unto their colleagues if they trace a dog to another base. That means territorial war that often gets bloody.
Njoroge said he had been spending nights in the cold for 15-years after he left home in Kinangop.
Now 25, he says he has no regrets. He left home at a tender age of 10, after his relatives continuously mistreated him following the death of his parents.
“I was treated like a pariah by my relatives and decided to seek greener pastures,” he said.
The street children rarely fall ill, even as they eat from the dustbin. “I’ve never been to a hospital for seven years,” says Maulidi with a wide grin.
Njoroge said their main challenge is to get an ID card once they reach the age of 18. “We’d like to obtain IDs and voting cards like other Kenyans,” he laments.
But area residents view the increased number of parking boys as a menace.
They say they have taken control of some streets and one dares not pass there after 7pm for fear of an attack.
“They have taken control of some back streets in town and spread terror to passers-by,” says an area resident.
When Narc came to power, a number of them joined the NYS and have already graduated in various trades. Then, their number decreased considerably unlike the case is now.
The joy expressed by the residents at the time was short-lived.
Dozens of stores have been looted, torched and smashed by rioters and then picked clean by an army of glue-sniffing street children searching for whatever was left. The scorched Ukwala supermarket looks as if a bomb blew up inside it. The gates of Zamana Electronic are mangled.
People here say this is just the beginning.
“We will never surrender!” yelled a man who attended a rally for opposition leaders on Saturday.
“We want guns, guns!” another man added.
While much of Kenya is trying to get back to normal after a week of post-election violence that has claimed more than 300 lives nationwide, Kisumu, Kenya’s third-largest city, is still quivering with anger. Few places have been so thoroughly gutted by the turbulence as here.
With Kenya’s leaders still at an impasse despite the efforts of Jendayi E. Frazer, the American assistant secretary of state for Africa who met with both sides on Saturday, it looks as if the tensions will linger dangerously for some time.
Kisumu is the stronghold of Raila Odinga, the opposition leader who said he had been cheated out of the presidency, and the town’s main street is named after his father, a local hero.
The people here followed the election so closely that they remember the precise hour last weekend, on Saturday, when the vote count suddenly changed, and Mwai Kibaki, Kenya’s president, went from trailing badly to winning with a suspiciously thin margin of victory.
The town exploded, and a furious mob stormed up Oginga Odinga street. The biggest businesses are now in ashes. Fuel, food and cellphone credit are in short supply. And around 2,000 people from Mr. Kibaki’s tribe, the Kikuyu, are camped out at the police station, trying to escape a wave of revenge killings.
“If I stay here, I’ll be lynched,” said Waweru Mburu, a Kikuyu, as he nervously waited outside a supermarket, one of the two open in this town of half a million people. His wife had been waiting for hours, trying to buy milk.
Trucks carrying Kikuyu and evacuees from another tribe, the Kisii, many of whom supported Mr. Kibaki, are jeered at as they pull out of town. Those doing the jeering are mostly Luo, like Mr. Odinga, who live here in great numbers.
“Traitors!” some Luo shouted on Saturday as a truck passed.
People on both sides said the tensions would not ease as long as Kenya’s political leaders refused to even speak to each other, which has been the situation since the election on Dec. 27.
On Saturday, Mr. Kibaki indicated that he was ready to form “a government of national unity.” Mr. Odinga did not reject that outright but said he would not entertain any offers until the two sides sat down in the presence of foreign mediators.
The government initially rebuffed outside help, but seems to have relented slightly and sent a diplomat to Ghana to discuss a role for the African Union, according to Reuters.
Ms. Frazer met separately with Mr. Kibaki and Mr. Odinga and urged them to work together to solve the crisis, which has dented Kenya’s image as one of the most stable countries in Africa and could cause permanent economic damage if peace is not restored soon.
It seems that momentum is growing toward negotiations. “There is slow progress being made,” said Salim Lone, a spokesman for Mr. Odinga.
Kenyans are waiting. Some areas, like the capital, have quieted down considerably. In the Rift Valley, the area most torn by violence, fewer killings have been reported in the past few days, but tens of thousands of people are displaced and in need of food.
In Kisumu, the killings have stopped, for the most part. But the banks are running out of money, few stores are open and the looting continues.
There is some opportunism to all this. The rage that swept through town was selective, striking at electronics shops, cellphone kiosks and shoe stores but leaving the drapery dealer alone.
On Saturday, Monica Awino tiptoed through the shattered interior of a Bata footwear store. Glass was everywhere. She used to work here and now is out of a job at the best time of year. No after-Christmas or back-to-school sales for her.
“I’m angry at everybody,” she said.
Up the street, Bernard Ndede, a high school English teacher, watched street children carefully sift through inches of rubble on the floor of a charred supermarket, as if they were urban archaeologists.
He said he did not approve of the looting, but he understood the anger.
“People woke up so early that day to vote for change,” he said, referring to election day and the millions of people who voted for Mr. Odinga. “They felt robbed.”
For some, the disappointment was lethal. On Saturday, Albert Ojonyo, an insurance agent, went to the city morgue to pick up the body of his brother, Daniel. More than 40 people were killed here in election-related violence. Many bodies have not been identified and wait in a sweltering room under strips of red cloth with their feet poking out.
Mr. Ojonyo said his brother, who was 27, had been shot in the head, most likely by police officers trying to quell the rioters.
“Daniel felt very strongly about these elections,” he said. “Afterward, he was a very bitter boy.”
| Ballot mix-ups that threaten to beak up family
Story by ARNO KOPECKY
Publication Date: 1/5/2008
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The mountain is half the height of Everest and the pair, who raised more than £6,500, said the challenge was the toughest thing they had ever done, with lack of oxygen testing every walker’s endurance.
For Mrs Hawke, of Tachbrook Road, it was the second mountain she had ever climbed – the first being a trip up Snowdon in November.
She decided to go only seven weeks before the trek began and raised £5,000 before she left.
The usher, who works at courts in Warwick and Coventry, said: “I wasn’t too sure but it turned out to be the most amazing thing I have done in my life.
“It was 100 degrees during the day with no shade and minus ten during the night. The glass in one person’s watch popped out the conditions were so extreme. But it was amazing how we gelled together as a team.”
Mr Mann, of Charles Street, Warwick is the charity’s fundraising co-ordinator but had never walked at altitude. He said: “The terrain was breathtaking but rugged. None of us had trekked at that altitude before and some suffered from intense headaches. Breathing was difficult, so every step took great effort.”
The rewards for their effort included views across the mountain range and sightings of Gelada baboons as well as ibex and other exotic birds.
And on their return from the trek the party visited Retrak’s project in Addis Abbaba, where street children are given the chance to go to school, be reunited with their families or find homes with a foster family. The team spent time talking to some of the children who are benefiting from the charity’s work and ended the day with a football match against the youngsters.
Mrs Hawke added: “It was fantastic to see how the money raised from our efforts during the trek will be used to help street children in Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya to begin a new life away from the danger and horror of life on the streets.”
The trek was organised by Mrs Hawke’s daughter Karla Hawke. Its 14 members raised more than £60,000.
Karla was really proud of her mother’s achievement both in climbing the mountain, and raising such a large amount of money in less than seven weeks.
She said: “Retrak is really grateful to people like Dave and Dee who took part. Anyone interested in future challenges should visit our website for more information.”