Archive for ‘Children in Conflict’

October 3, 2014

Service and Youth

Is the National Youth Service (NYS) the way to go in bringing up a citizen who is service oriented to his country? The NYS act of 1964, envisaged Kenya creating a platform of reintegrating militant youths then to reorient, assimilate and create a pool of employable disciplined youths who can support the army or police force while pursuing national cohesion agenda. Forty nine years later, Kenya is at cross roads seeking betters ways of involving and motivating over 60% of its populations in nation building through the NYS.

Over the years, Kenya government and private sector have made huge investments in education which has seen high enrolment from Early Childhood Education to University level. On the other hand we have yearly police and armed forces recruitment drives absorbing many young people. However the rate of unemployment, deterioration of public service is quite evident in urban centers where provision of basic services such as garbage collection and poor roads and housing is in dire need. Above all these, Kenya is still a fragile state as witnessed in 2008 post election violence.

How then can the youth be involved in a constructive way without exploitation? Participation in nation building should be an obligation which a good citizen must carry out with pride. People have rights and the state has responsibility to do whatever is necessary to fulfill these rights. One such right is to ensure that we all live in safe and clean environment. Institutions such as education, military, police and work place should assist in fostering a sense of cohesion among the citizens.

The Ministry of Devolution recently launched a programme of recruiting young people through NYS and youth are equipped with skills to offer various services to the vulnerable communities. In Nairobi, the entry point has been participating in garbage collection in the informal settlements starting with Kibera. All over the world, governments have always strived either to control or involve youth in development. It is easy to control people who have passed through forces training since there is respect attached to chain of command. However the danger lies when it comes to demilitarizing the youths and reintegrating them back into civilian life. Conflicts in the region and ‘cheap’ labour might make Kenya a fertile ground for recruitment. The rate of unemployment is quite high all over Kenya which sometimes back, the World Bank had warned us that this is bomb’ waiting to explode.

In general, youth are very innovative and creative and Kenya government should think beyond controlling and militarizing the youth. Uwezo Fund must be ready to accommodate fresh ideas in this modern time. At the local level the youth should also take part in the real management of political parties, government to establish real funds for entrepreneurship ventures like implementing some of the ideas generated by students at the annual science congress while making access to information technology platform a priority especially in the informal settlements to bridge the disparity when it comes to access to information.

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April 13, 2014

Street Children: Dr. Manu Chandaria

Dr. Manu Chandaria Reaching out to the less fortunate in society

Dr. Manu Chandaria Reaching out to the less fortunate in society


Can you imagine asking 200,000 questions to 40,000,000 people? This might seem impossible. Meet Dr. Manu Chandaria, Kenyan Industrialist who is currently the leading advocate for the plight and rights of street children in Kenya. I met him and his brother at International Day for Street Children on 12.04.2014 at St. Teresa’s Girls Secondary School. This day has been set aside for ‘giving voice to street children so their rights cannot be ignored.
Globally it is estimated that there are 100 million street children who live and work on the streets under very difficult circumstance however debate abound about the figures. But one thing is certainly is clear, the number of street children have been raising and more importantly street families especially in Kenya. Kenya is estimated to have between 200,000 – 300,000 street children. To witness the problem in Nairobi, one needs to walk around Globe Cinema Roundabout either in the morning or evening.
There are only two people in Kenya, late Fr. Arnold Grol and Dr. Manu Chandaria who have dedicated time and resources to help street children passionately and genuinely. Dr. Manu Chandaria speaks about street children with ease and one would easily conclude him to be an expert in this field.
The usual picture of street children in Kenya is that of dirty clothes, glue sniffing, unruly, rough and hunger. But behind all these, we have normal human beings who are positive about life. I attended the celebration to the mark the International Day for Street Children and had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Manu Chandaria ask, “What can 40 million Kenyans do to address the plight of 200,000, street children? For Dr. Manu Chandaria OBE & OBS, a famous industrialist he sees potential in street children and that is why during the event, he mingled so easily with the street children.
Dr. Manu Chandaria would like to see an environment where street children are treated with dignity and facilitated to be part of wider society since he believes that they have potential to make a positive contribution in making Kenya a better place.
I spoke to more than 50 street children from different ‘bases’ and they all expressed desire to live in a decent environment where they can access education, training, medical care and jobs. Some Non Governmental Organizations have managed to organize themselves to provide services such as vocational skills training, health, food, clothing and shelter but this is not enough. While the problem of street children is a worldwide concern, our government can do better to address problems faced by 300,000 who live in inhuman condition. If we can invest billions for roads, railways and drilling oil in Turkana then what about investing in our own children? The 47 County Governments in Kenya can be pushed to allocate special funds to address issues related to street children.
Street children problem is human problem which can only be solved by human beings. If Kenya had so many Dr. Manu Chandaria then we would have been able to provide decent life to our children on the street.

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