LWR VICE PRESIDENT VISITS KELC

The Lutheran World Relief Vice president for International programs Mr. Timothy Mccully accompanied by his East Africa regional heads today made a courtesy visit to KELC. The team met Bishop Zachariah Kahuthu and other program persons to learn, listen and engage with KELC staff on the implemention of the HIV and AIDS, Malaria program. In his message Mccully noted with appreciation the existing partnership between KELC and LWR on Malaria program. “We intend to work as a team to strategize with intention of scaling-up our program on Malaria by building on what has been achieved” – said Mccully.

Bishop Zachariah Kahuthu presents a gift to Mr. Timothy Mccully during his visit to KELC Head office.

The HIV and AIDS, Malaria coordinator Mr. Darius Nyamai noted that KELC had managed to train and mobilize church leadership on prevention of malaria. He went on to say that through the LWR Malaria project KELC had linked its congregants with health facilities a move that has improved referral system that prevents infection of malaria. “We have reached out to 8,052 children in seven parishes/mission areas and Sunday school children use songs, drama to learn and prevent malaria infection” Darius added.

The KELC malaria program aims at improving access to and utilization of malaria and HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment measures, with pilot in seven focus areas of KELC, specifically among children, pregnant women, and people living with HIV and AIDS. The three year program which focuses on malaria prone areas: Kambu, Malindi, Mombasa, Lunga Lunga, Tana River, Hola Wenje, and Ukambani; has reached-out to 39,000 people with malaria messages disseminated through posters and other IEC materials. Even though KELC has made tremendous steps in malaria sensitization and prevention; the cost of ITN’s still poses a challenge and threatens such gains if families especially women and children under five do not receive treated nets.

Apart from KELC, the Lutheran World Relief supports similar work with lutherans in Tanzania. The Lutheran Malaria Initiative is a five years program intended to raise awareness on malaria by sensitizing on prevention, treatment and access to drugs and treated mosquito nets to women and children below the age of five.

It is with humble acceptance that we announce the death of Rev. Phares Samson Kiwanza who until his death on Sunday 25th September, 2011 was the pastor-in-charge of Mombasa Lutheran parish and headed the south-coast district of the Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church.

He passed on in his house in Mombasa while waiting to be served lunch. The autopsy is scheduled for today to establish the actual cause of his death.

The late Reverend Phares Kiwanza joined KELC after completing his Bachelor of Arts in Divinity at Makumira University in 1999. He served in various parishes and mission areas where he demonstrated great leadership skills in mobilizing congregations in development projects.

He was energetic, brilliant in his well-thought ideas and was admired by many who sort his advice whenever they were faced with challenges. His leadership qualities enabled Mombasa parish to start several projects which catered for orphans and vulnerable members of community.

He leaves behind a widow and two children.

May God rest his Soul in eternal peace

More disaster await  urban vulnerables

A day after petroleum spillage on a pipeline razed Sinai informal settlement and claimed lives of 88 people in Nairobi, Kenya; the government today announced two days of national mourning after a cabinet meeting chaired by President Mwai Kibaki. Elsewhere relatives, friends and survivors of the fire tragedy gathered at the emergency centre that also serves as tracing centre to seek information and where-about of loved ones.

The fire is said to have erupted from a Kenya Pipeline corporation (KPC) petroleum pipe that connects Mombasa and Nairobi depot. Residents of Sinai settlement are said to have encroached the land unaware of danger posed by petroleum pipes passing beneath their make shift houses. Information of the exact source of fire remains scanty as investigations are underway from both the government of Kenya and Kenya Pipeline Corporation to establish source of fire that has left ninety seven people hospitalized.

Trail of distruction and lose of lives in Nairobi's Sinai slums after petroleum fire left 88 people dead

Residents say that the spillage leaked into drainage system as a result of pressure that later burst all toilets drainage oozing 10,000 liters of super petroleum oil into the river. Fire quickly followed the flow of super petroleum into houses not far from the burst pipes. Residents who tried to cash in on the spillage sustained serious burns while others on fire opted to jump into the river to save their lives.

Doctors at the Kenyatta National Hospital were overwhelmed by medical demands for the patients who sustained 30-90% degree burns and immediately appealed for blankets, bed sheets, and blood donations. KNH is the only referral hospital in Nairobi and serves the entire East Africa. Five of those admitted early at the hospital in critical condition succumbed to burns while seven more bodies were retrieved from chemical polluted Nairobi river streaming through Sinai informal settlements.

Unemployed youths retrieved bodies

Lack of protective clothes such as gloves, gumboots or breathing masks least deterred a group of youths from venturing deep into the polluted Nairobi River to rescue fire victims. “We searched for bodies the entire night, it was dark and water was cold. We didn’t find any body until this morning, when we got six bodies”-said Moses Odhiambo. “We offered to rescue people despite knowledge of the health risk of the river. We only request for antiseptic soap, water and drugs to at least bath”-Odhiambo added.

The youths blamed authorities for lack of preparedness in addressing such calamities.  “We doubt if all the bodies have been recovered, this area has a lot of people. Other areas are deep and we were unable to access, but we believe bodies could be there”, they said. One more body was retrieved as this story was being compiled.

Churches offer immediate psycho-social support

ACT Alliance Kenya forum members comprising of Church World Service and Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church visited the tracing centre and site of the fire tragedy and witnessed desperate situation among the slum dwellers. At the tracing centre, churches had set-up tents and were receiving relatives and survivors and offered psychosocial support through counseling. The tracing centre coordinated by the Kenya Red Cross society also provided food to affected families.

“People are coming here, we offer counseling while others are going to mortuary and hospitals to identify relatives”-said Lucy Macharia a trained counselor working with the Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church.  “We have children, not sure if they ate last night or not” lamented Alice Adhola provincial administrative chief in charge of the tracing centre. “We want [survivors] to feel at home by making them comfortable”, added Adhola.

Twelve counselors from various churches in Nairobi had set camp at the tracing centre ready to talk to families affected by the disaster. It is feared that the number of people coming to the centre might be increase owing to the magnitude of the tragedy. Demand for psycho-social support may increase  once people are directed to the centre. “I have talked to a client, who lost a brother and can’t trace him” said one of the counselors. The story is the same in the entire centre as survivors stream in to get registered for possible food ratio.

The fire left hundreds homeless and atleast 97 admitted to hospital with third-degree burns

Initial assessment conducted by ACT Alliance Kenya forum revealed immediate need for blankets, utensils, tents and scaling up psycho-social support. The government of Kenya has vowed to evict the residents from the slum and committed to pay their house rent for one year. It’s yet to be seen if the promise will be honoured owing to mounting pressure on the government to resettle all the Internally Displaced Persons evicted from their homes following the 2007/2008 post election violence that left 1,200 dead and more than 300,000 displaced.

Many residents of Sinai informal settlement have lost property and livelihood and may take long to recover from the fire disaster which has completely changed their lives. Rebecca Nyambura 33, is a single mother of three boys, she sustained head and arm injuries in the fire and is unlikely to continue with farming which enabled her fend for her family. “I now have to depend on friends since my hands are burnt” she lamented.

Many urban vulnerables living in informal settlements are more often ignored by authorities forcing them to literally survive on illegally water connection, encroach land and tap electricity activities that continue to put their lives in danger.

Such human suffering may continue longer in Kenya if more efforts is not devoted to urban vulnerable living in a country over-stretched and burdened with hosting refugees from Somali and responding to the worst drought affecting the East and Horn of Africa

Invest in youth for sustainable development

“You form a critical mass of leadership and constitute a vital resource for national development” – This was the message from Sheila Masinde to the three hundred youths from seven countries meeting at Kenya High school in Nairobi for a workshop dubbed ‘empowerment for positive growth’.

She went further to say, that youth involvement in advocacy and good governance need to start early if the principles were to become a “way of life”. Sheila cautioned of national threat to stability if the youth are left unguided in ethical values.

Ms. Sheila Masinde who works at Transparency International as a programme officer, advocacy and communications noted that “public recognition of young people is key in social development, fact strengthened by United Nations’ convention on Rights of the Child”. While challenging the policy makers to involve the youth, she reiterated that “development policies and governance stand a chance of influencing success when young people are involved”.

Adding to the debate of linking youth participation and involvement in realization of Millennium development goals (MDG’s) she urged all- “invest on youth for most effective dividend in meeting MDG’s and building long-term social capacity for development”

The week long workshop organized by Church World Service, Norwegian Church Aid and the Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church brought together youths from Southern Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Nairobi, Kenya 1st August 2011 The visiting Lutheran World Federation Secretary General Rev. Martin Junge joined the two Bishops of Lutheran churches in Kenya for a Sunday worship in Lengisho Parish of Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya.

In his message from John 20, Rev. Junge noted that Lutherans are united, bond together and linked worldwide through worship and faith. He likened that bond to a  body nerve which calls for response to a part of the body suffering. “We heard of the suffering and fear caused by drought facing the East Africa region [and] we share in suffering with part of our body” said Junge. “We came to see, listen and find ways of accompanying in the suffering” he added.

From right: Rev. Martin Junge, Bishop Zachariah Kahuthu and Bishop Walter Obare after the Sunday worship in Kajiado

He further said that God meets those in fear similar to the way He met the disciples at a time of  fear. “Christ will find us in whatever situation we encounter” he said. While offering hope to the region suffering worst drought in 60 years he said that Christ message brings peace. He urged the church to engage in providing the message of peace and hope to the creation hurting and community suffering from the effects of climate change.

“The place of the church is not behind closed doors, we should engage in the duties of the world”  He urged.

He commended the two Lutheran churches in Kenya KELC and ELCK for showing the Spirit of serving and not of withdrawal. He encouraged the two churches [to] “go out and work with others in addressing and minimizing human suffering”.

Bishop Zachariah Kahuthu and Bishop Walter Obare both commended Rev. Martin Junge for visiting  Kenya as part of “witness and solidarity with people of Kenya”.

After the worship Rev. Martin Junge visited congregations of ELCK and KELC and met pastoral families and communities affected by the drought.

Rev. Junge accompanied by the Department of Mission and Development Africa regional secretary Rev. Dr. Elieshi Mungure and Rev. Eberhard Hitzler Director of Department of World Service  is on a four days (30th July to 3rd August ) visit to  Kenya. During the visit the LWF General Secretary  will show support efforts for sufficient camp space in Kenya and for humanitarian access to Somali and endeavour to strengthen co-operation with government of Kenya and UNHCR.

He is also schedule to visit Daadab refugees camp, meet the president and prime minister, head of UNHCR, head of UNOCHA, government officials and various humanitarian agencies working in Kenya.

The two Lutheran churches in Kenya have launched an appeal through ACT Alliance to respond to the drought affecting the region. The appeal will ensure food and non-food items reach the most vulnerable people affected by the worst drought in 60 years causing pain and suffering in East and Horn of Africa.

A walk along the Kenya coastal beaches of Mombasa and Malindi reveals the growing number of young girls and boys who flock the beaches in search of prospective white tourists for sex, as they hope the tides sweep them away from biting poverty. While tourism is the financial vigor for the Kenyan economy, it is also the root cause of child prostitution here. In spite the fact that tourism earns Kenya about USD887.1 million annually tourism also counts for the growing child sexual abuses according to case study conducted by Coast Women in Development.

Tourists as old as between 70 years and 80 years sexually abuse youths as young as their grandchildren. Of equal concern is the boy child sexual exploitation by sex tourists.

Poverty and unemployment of youths, society acceptance of the vice as a means of earning a living may be just a few of the push factors compelling youths as young as between 8 years and 25 years to crowd beaches. Majority of them lack basic education and life skills to survive or opt out of the high tide that has claimed several lives through HIV and AIDS.

It is possible to overcome all odds and pressures as was the case for Jackline Kangeshi a former commercial sex worker living in Malindi. Jackline managed to quit the practice thanks to financial support from Kenya Evangelical Lutheran church project financed by Lutheran World Relief, which enabled her start an income generating activity under the livelihood support.

Poverty opened door to early marriage

“Life was difficult and made me get married at an early age”- lamented Jackline oblivious of what was lying ahead in her marriage. She hoped the marriage would assist her support her needy siblings unfortunately [husband] violence made her leave. “He used to beat me…he even brought home diseases like syphilis and gonorrhea. I was bitter” she said. Her aid came from a Good Samaritan who provided her transport and urged her to leave. It was at that point that Jackline decided to return with her child to her parent’s home despite several pleas from the husband not to leave.

The separation was short-lived since her in-laws visited and convinced her mother to return to the husband while promising better treatment. “The thought of raising my one year daughter without a father made me return” narrated Jackline.

The re-union led her conceive a second child despite little change in her marriage life. She repeatedly contracted sexual transmitted infections situations that made her lose faith in her husband. After several attempts to perseverance, she finally decided to divorce the father to her two children and vow never to return.

Better life for children

With two-mouths to feed, and her unemployment status.  Jackline was forced back to Malindi beaches too aware of the dangers of contracting HIV and AIDS and leaving her children as orphans; but that did not prevent her from the move. Keen in preventing further sexual transmission, she embraced use of condoms.

“I used to carry 5 to 10 sachets of condom from Malindi District hospital to protect myself”-said Jackline. Income from sex was little.

Less pay and frequent harassment at the beach made Jackline ascend to Malindi town for white men who paid her up to 200 shillings a day. She accumulated the income and managed to pay rent and buy food for her siblings and her two children. “Africans would ask for sex for 100 shillings. Thugs would at time snatch my [day’s] pay” she lamented.

Educating her children initially was not an easy task but after the government introduced free primary education in Kenya she became confident and hopeful. This meant better life and future for her children in class 6 and 7. She wants to give [her] children the best education she missed to shape their future.

Turning point for Jackline

Advice from her mother’s friend to join Lutheran CSW support group became the turning point in Jackline’s life. She received training on safe sex, counseling and was empowered to prevent HIV and AIDS infection. With no religious background, it was difficult to follow the ‘new culture’ in the church. She struggled to stay out of the sex trade but occasionally drifted back to the beaches even after church trainings.  “[I]feared joining the group, [since i] didn’t know how to dress decently”. She said.

“It was difficult to stop selling my body for money”-worried Jackline.

Through the Lutheran church seminars and trainings on business entrepreneur, she acquired skills that would change her life for better. The church loaned her 5,000 shillings (less than USD 50) which became the starting capital for her tailoring, grocery and second-hand clothes business. Low business would at times revive her thoughts of returning to the beach but determination to change thrived over those thoughts. “I didn’t want to return to prostitution”.

For nine months business was bad, but she managed to repay the loan and asked for top-up of 15,000 shillings. She acquired a small piece of land and constructed three rooms. “I used to buy iron sheets and blocks each time I got profits” She said.

She took 3 years to complete the construction and has since started the foundation for rental houses within the same piece of land. Her compound is awash with several activities. A Faith Ambassadors for Christ Ministry church operates from her compound. “People come here to pray…this [church is] the only thing I can give back to God” she said.

Indeed the rejected stone became the corner stone as is the case for Jackline who suffered rejection and stigma. She feeds the community around her from small scale farming harvest of 4 to 4.5 bags of maize. Her neighbors view her as a source of hope and inspiration. They say she is blessed. “Her farm yields maximum and she helps orphans in our community” –one of Jackline’s neighbor said.

For Jackline “God’s mercy enabled [her] this far” and through the Lutheran’s faith in action restored happiness and hope not only for her but for the community she continues to serve.

MOMBASA, Kenya, 22 June, 2011 -Lives for a group of 24 young people in Mombasa have been transformed thanks to peace funds donated by Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to local church Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church (KELC). KELC hosted an ecumenical youth peace gathering in 2009 in response to Post-election violence witnessed in Kenya in 2007/ 2008 that claimed 1,300 lives and left 350,000 displaced from their homes.

The group started in Bamburi in 2008 under the Organization of Africa Instituted Churches (OAIC). Bamburi Giving Hope received KES 70,000 (above USD 900) funds under the peace summit phase II for chicken rearing project. “We started with 200 day-old-chicks in March 2011 after constructing a chicken roost” narrated Wendy treasurer of the group.

The third lot of chicks reared by Bamburi Giving Hope group supported by the Peace Summit project funds

Due to lack of experience in poultry farming the group lost 9 chicks a situation that led to panic and fear for more loses and forced them to contact a livestock officer for advice. They were equipped with basic techniques in poultry farming that saw the survival of the remaining 191 chicks. This marked the beginning or self-reliance and since then the group has reared and sold chicks three times and made huge profits. “We make KES 10,000 profit after expenses each rearing phase” said Wendy.

Broilers chicks mature after 3 weeks and forms a ready market for hotels, restaurants and for many Kenyan who prefer fast food combination of chicken and French fries.

Enabled Orphans- forget their status

The group consists of orphans and child-led families and is the broader Giving Hope programs whose aim is to support and give hope to the orphans. Kenya has more than 1.2 million children orphaned by HIV and AIDS, gender-based violence, poverty among other factors. Child-led families are mainly faced with challenges such as early pregnancies as was the case for one of the Bamburi giving hope member.

“One of our members delivered a baby and unfortunately died…the group catered for all burial expenses” lamented Wendy. She said the project has enabled then “forget we are orphans” for most members hardly stay without food.

Previously the group members used to seat on the floor while conducting meetings. That has since changed, they bought seats and intend to use and hire-out whenever there are functions. “We have managed to buy school bags for the school going children” added Wendy.

The peace funds disbursed to Giving Hope has caused a snow-ball effect with group’s activities winning trust from other stakeholders. USAID Total War against AIDS (TOWA) program acknowledged the group’s positive growth and it is for that reason that the group is implementing a program for sensitizing Mombasa communities and schools on HIV and AIDS. Group members are encouraged to save (to a pool) allowances they get from TOWA project with intention of later receiving loans once.

Bold move, beckoning hope

Chicken rearing decision was tough for a group with little or no experience but after making the bold step Bamburi Giving Hope group has become wiser from past mistakes and is dreaming big. The group intends to expand the poultry farming to include traditional chicken, turkey.

“We want to secure a land of our own, keep not only poultry but also rabbits” expressed the treasurer. “[But] our biggest fear is threats from Mombasa republican. [They] want us out of Mombasa…that may destabilize the group for many of us are non-coastal”- lamented Wendy.

Mombasa Republican is an illegal vigilante group calling up on non- coastal residence to quit. They base their ideology on the 18 century agreement between the Sultan of Zanzibar and the British on the coastal strip to be annexed from the rest of Kenya. Other youth group funded from the coast is active youth implementing balcony vegetable farming hoping to reverse the food insecurity in urban areas.

(The Ecumenical Peace Summit was held in April 2009 in Nairobi following  post-election violence in Kenya in 2007/2008 that claimed 1,300 lives displaced 350,000. The Summit attracted more than 500 youths from (then) violence hot-spots of Eldoret, Mombasa, Malindi, Limuru, Nakuru, Kisumu and informal settlements of Kibera and Mathare in Nairobi. Youths were trained on entrepreneurship skills, project development, HIV and AIDS and were later sent out as peace ambassadors. The initiative set aside funds to support youths led projects  under the theme: “Embrace peace, fulfill the Dreams”)

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