Posts tagged ‘Children’s Rights’

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.

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.

February 3, 2012

Children Using Space

Creating good a conducive environment for all to enjoy is the most challenging aspect in slum like Mathare. There are always huge piles of uncollected solid waste, broken sewers, use, noise pollution, limited space for children to exercise their right to play, lack of social amenities for the youth, no social halls or club house for elderly to meet and discussion about their own issues.

Despite all these, people still live and survive against all odds. The limited space available is shared amongst different groups. Like Huruma Sports Ground host various Christian crusades but it has produced some good and international soccer players while at the same provides bulk of players for street soccer in the Kenyan team.

On the other hand Mathare river host various socioeconomic activities despite high levels of pollutions. Various youth groups have managed to reclaim riparian land along the river and started urban farming activities. The good thing abour urban farming is that the youth do not use polluted river for irrigation.

Children make use of any available space to exercise their right play not caring much danger associated. It is common to find children playing next to a garbage hip or beside the river. – Simon

January 29, 2011

Made on the Streets

Elijah's Group

The boys have lived on the streets of Eastleigh for than 15 years

For the past 16 years Elijah has managed to live in the streets of Eastleigh and earned respect among his peers. He is usually in the company of 17 other boys apart from his wife Kajanie (Jane), 17 yrs, who is currently recuperating after giving birth to a baby boy. Elijah has three other brothers on the team.

The group of 17 usually holds elections every year to elect the chairman and speaker. In the last 7 years Elijah has been the chairman unopposed. He is considering retiring from the post now that he is a father. Another powerful position is that of the ‘Speaker’. The speaker must have a mobile phone apart from being easily accessible by the group members. He is trusted with the groups secrets and he’s also the first contact with the visitors.

During this interview I was first directed to the speaker by a group member Magoti (Knees). After explaining the mission, I was then referred to the group’s chairman who granted me the permission to conduct the interview.


Elijah has lived on the streets of Eastleigh

When you look at the group of boys, one will not realize how organized the boys are despite wearing dirty clothes and torn shoes while others are high sniffing glue.

Most of the group members sleep along the streets of Eastleigh while a few boys have rented a house in Mathare. They refer those who have rented houses as wadossy (the rich).

The boys seek their living out of sorting garbage in the houses nearby and some work as porters for people alighting from the bus with heavy luggage. Those who sleep along the streets also provide ‘security’ to women who own grocery kiosk.

Elijah is respected because every evening he ensures that everybody eats through sharing what each has earned during the day. Failure to share with those who are sick can lead to expulsion or “ex-communication” which means that you are not protected from other boys in case of attack.

The brotherhood level is very high and one is touched by how they respect the group leadership and appreciate living by the group’s code of conduct. Elijah is skeptical of any visitors who comes to the group since little is done to improve their condition by the NGOs working in the children sector. He says that some of the social workers who he has come across are impatient to learn what it really means to live on the street. He claims that he has adapted to this life and feels comfortable. According to Elijah, the most difficult part of their life is accessing housing, washroom, circumcision, medical, baptism and national identity cards.- Simon

Spokeman of the group

Chege, is the speaker of the group

January 27, 2011

Hope for the Future

The future professionals

Preparing for a better future through studies

All societies are positive of what their children will be in future. Today I was touched by a discussion I had with 35 children from Kiamaiko. We were discussing a community clean up exercise to be carried out at the end of February in the nearby community. As we were discussing what was required such garbage trucks, spades, shovels, rakes and the rest, the discussion digressed into what we don’t have in our community. I was shocked to find that children were influenced to choose careers that will help empower their communities; Below is a response from six children what that want to be in future;


Mwangi, 11: wants to be a teacher in future

James Mwangi, 11 yrs:

He wants to be a teacher. James has been greatly influence by her class teacher who is kind and always ready to assist. The teacher also takes time to know how he is fairing at home more than his mother. He believes that being a teacher will make him be like the teacher.


Kenrich Avoga, 13yrs: He loves cars especially white ones. His dream is to drive a big truck full of goods from Kenya to Rwanda.

Godfrey Nderitu, 13 yrs: He has never taken a ride on a ship and he also loves being in the ocean. His dream is to work in a big ship like Titanic as he has watched the movie. He wants to be a coxswain.


Kenrich Avonga, 13 yrs, wants to be a truck driver

Rachael Wanjiru, 15 yrs: Rachael loves computer. She wants one day to own a computer company. She wants to be a computer engineer.

Wants to be a lawyer

Clementina 14yrs, wants to be a lawyers to fight injustices in slums

Clementina, 14 yrs: She wants to be a lawyer because there are so many injustices in her community and those suffer most are women and children especially girls. Clementina believes its all through being a lawyer that she will be able to protect women and children.

Issa Ismail, 15 yrs: Issa is not happy with the way houses have been constructed in slums. There are no playing grounds for small children. He believes that he will design good estate that children into account.

After looking what these children and who they want to be, I was forced to ask myself, ‘how do I contribute in helping these kind of children to achieve their dream? – Simon

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