Monday, October 31, 2011

From Fright To Flight: A Journey From Kenya To US

On a recent 17-hour non-stop flight from Dubai to Houston, USA, PETER KIMANI recounts how the longest single trip of his life rapidly changed from a calamitous ordeal to a pleasurable, memorable experience

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," Charles Dickens writes in the opening lines of his classic novel, Great Expectations.
From Fright To Flight: A Journey From Kenya To US
It perfectly mirrors my state of mind as I leave Kenya for the US. There are great expectations about the study programme ahead, but the impending journey is fast degenerating into a calamitous ordeal.

Accused Kenyan in Philippine demands return of US$3,700


THE 24-year-old Kenyan national, who is accused of bringing three kilos of drugs to Cebu, is asking the court to order her captors to return the money they had seized from her.
In a motion filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 27, Rico Amores, counsel of Kenyan Asha Atieno Ogutu, said his client had US$3,700 and 2,000 Qatari riyal when she was arrested by operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) at the Mactan Cebu International Airport last Sept. 29.
Accused Kenyan in Philippine demands return of US$3,700
NBI 7 assistant regional chief Lauro Reyes denied that his men took the sum from Ogutu.
“That’s a big lie,” he said, adding that NBI only found US$700 on Ogutu.
He said this was recorded in the inventory sheet that is part of the case records pertaining to the Kenyan national.
Earlier newspaper reports, however, said Ogutu’s wallet was empty.

Two Men Convicted in the 2009 Murder of a Kenyan Native in California

George Onyango was a loving father who gave hugs to his sons each day before he left for work.

An English teacher in his native Kenya before bringing his family to the U.S. in 2006, Onyango urged his sons to study hard to prepare for success in the world.
Two Men Convicted in the 2009 Murder of a Kenyan Native in California
Onyango taught by example, attending Whittier Law School during the day and working nights as a group home counselor in Yucaipa.

In his free time, Onyango loved to take his family to the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and other sights.

Onyango also took his group-home charges on field trips, trusting them and believing they shared a mutual respect, his cousin said.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Kenya progressive political parties move an inch closer to forging a Third Force Coalition for 2012


NAIROBI, KENYA—October 28, 2011-Kenyan progressive political parties and social movements will gather in a Nairobi hotel on Saturday October 29 to fix the date for the National Convention that will see the birth of a progressive third force coalition for the 2012 General elections.
This is the first major meeting since the Progressive Third Force Consultative Conference in Murang’a on August 26-28, 2011 that was attended by 22 political parties and 14 social movements. It is expected that participating organization will sign an Agreement in Principle and establish the steering committee for the formation of the Progressive Third Force. The meeting will also select an interim executive team to help coordinate the tasks ahead.

State offers amnesty to Kenyans in terror group


Top security officials led by Chief of Defence Forces Gen Julius Karangi asked the recruits to denounce the group and even seek the government’s help.State offers amnesty to Kenyans in terror group
Internal Security Permanent Secretary Francis Kimemia said the government was profiling Kenyans who may have been recruited into the militia.
He added that the government would offer amnesty to local Al-Shabaab members if they came forward.
“Our internal security has borne the adverse effects of the Al-Shabaab menace, and the government has no plan to negotiate with the militant group.

SA,Tz, Rwanda back Kenya on Somalia war

Kipsang leads Kenyan win in Frankfurt


Wilson Kipsang led Kenyan athletes in claiming Frankfurt marathon titles on Sunday in 2:03:41, only three seconds outside the world record.Wilson Kipsang of Kenya raises his arms as he crosses the finish line in the Lake Biwa marathon in Otsu, western Japan, on March 6, 2011.
Kenyans took 10 of the top 11 places as fifteen men ran under 2:10.
Kipsang's repeat victory was over a minute faster than his 2:04:57 last year, which firmly places him alongside Makau as a front runner for Kenya’s Olympic Marathon trio for London 2012.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Former NBA Star in love with Kenya


Former NBA Star in love with Kenya
Kermit Washington is one person we have no words to describe his character. He has touched many people’s lives, especially those from the slums and denied himself his basic needs. He has made many trips to Nairobi the capital city of Kenya, sometimes selling off his property to make sure he supports this poor people. There is no single day he has slept without calling Nairobi that is Florence to know about this same people.

PRE – RAY OF HOPE CLINIC & COMMUNITY CENTRE

Florence first met Kermit and Dr. Teresa Gipson in the year 1997 in Portland Oregon, USA at a friend’s house and that was the beginning of the dream come true for these three individuals.

Iman Kerigo, Miss Norway And A Native Of Kenya, Visits The United States


Iman Kerigo, Miss Norway And A Native Of Kenya, Visits The United States
Iman Kerigo, the first woman of African descent to be crowned Miss Norway, arrives in the US this week as part of her goodwill tour. Miss Kerigo, a refugee from Kenya who fled with her family to safety in the United Kingdom, continues her mission to raise awareness on poverty, war and domestic abuse. She will be visiting Los Angeles, Las Vegas and surrounding areas as part of her twelve day visit.

This man Bwire...

Kenya grenade suspect gets life imprisonment


Elgiva Bwire Oliacha, a man who confessed to being an Al-Shabaab member and pleaded guilty to carrying out a Nairobi grenade attack was Friday sentenced to life imprisonment.
The 28 year old also known as Mohammed Seif, pleaded guilty to nine charges, including causing grievous bodily harm to two people during Monday evening's blast.
Kenya grenade suspect gets life imprisonment

He told reporters he had no regrets after a magistrate read out the life sentence for the grenade attack.
He was given another 15 years for al Shabaab membership and seven years for the illegal possession of grenades and guns.

The Enemy Within Pt. 1

The Enemy Within Pt. 2

The Enemy Within Pt.3

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween


Jack-o-lanterns have been around for centuries as part of an ancient Celtic celebration at the start of the winter season. The Druids (a sort of pagan priesthood) believed that at this time of year the barriers between our world and the supernatural weakened and broke down. Expecting the souls of the dead to roam the land, they built large bonfires to frighten them off and slaughtered animals—or even people—to appease the evil spirits. The jack-o-lantern represents a poor soul caught between the two worlds, and some believe it served as a warning meant to ward off bad spirits. Incidentally, pumpkins are not common in Europe, so the original jack-o-lanterns were carved from turnips (The Encyclopedia of Religion, 1987, p. 176, “Halloween”).

Police blow up car in city bomb scare as security agents remain on high alert




Jennifer Muiruri I NATION The boot of a vehicle that was blown off by the bomb squad in Kayole on October 26, 2011.
Jennifer Muiruri I NATION The boot of a vehicle that was blown off by the bomb squad in Kayole on October 26, 2011.
Police on Wednesday blew up a car abandoned by the roadside that was thought to have been rigged up with explosives.
An unidentified person, who had parked it at the busy Masimba matatu terminus in Kayole, had claimed it would explode and “kill many people.”
Officers from the police bomb disposal unit first examined the car with the help of sniffer dogs and after failing to detect any explosives, used their own devices to force the boot open.
The explosion ripped the boot as hundreds of residents scampered for safety.

Eight dead in Mandera car attack




Eight people have been killed in a grenade attack on a bus in Mandera town, North-eastern Kenya by suspected al shabaab militia.
The militia are said to have sprayed the bus ferrying KCSE exam papers with bullets before lobbing a grenade that instantaneously exploded killing all on board. Those killed include Lafey secondary school headmaster, the district education officer, and two Kenya police reserve among others. The attack happened 100 kilometres from Mandera town.
This is the third grenade attack in the past five days bringing the death toll in suspected al shabaab related attacks to 9.

Al Shabaab suspect pleads guilty to arms possession charges

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Grenade man pleads guilty, admits role in attacks

Video-Grenade man pleads guilty, admits role in attacks


A man who was arrested with a cache of weapons in Kayole on Tuesday night has admitted in court that he was behind the grenade attack that killed one person and injured several others at Nairobi’s OTC bus stage.
Video-Grenade man pleads guilty, admits role in attacks

Elgiva Bwire Oliacha alias Mohamed Seif pleaded guilty before a Nairobi Court on Wednesday that he colluded with others to cause grievous harm to Justus Makau Mulwa and Patrick Ndolo Kinyingi.
Bwire also pleaded guilty to the charge of engaging in criminal activity by being a member of the Al Shabaab terror group when he appeared before Chief Magistrate Gilbert Mutembei.

Kenyan Woman Murdered in the U.S. Finally Laid to Rest




Mauryn and her husband who is facing charges for her murder
Mauryn and her husband who is facing charges for her murder
THE remains of a Kenyan woman who was brutally murdered by her husband in the USA were flown into the country and buried over the weekend. A somber mood engulfed the family of Ms Mauryn Eunice Masire, 39, who met her death after she was stabbed 64 times by her Liberian husband in their house in Minesota on September 13th this year. The family appealed to the government to assist them follow up on the case and also secure her property and documents.
Earlier, the family through the deceased’s elder brother, Boney Masire, had appealed for financial help to assist them bring the body home. They had required atleast Sh1.5Million. The deceased’s mother, Josephine Masire, 62, said the loss of her daughter was a big blow to the family.

Man arrested for having sex with goat




A thirty five year old man is currently admitted in Soroti hospital after an angry mob beat him up for allegedly having sex with a goat that later on died of injuries it had sustained.
The resident of Kapswhahili cell B, Soroti Municipality, was rescued from the wrath of fuming residents wielding sticks and stones, accusing him of bringing a bad omen to the community.
“We can’t tolerate this, God made a wife for a man and a man for a wife, this is tempting to change Gods order,” the mob chanted.
According to the deputy OC CID, Mr Micheal Anyonga said that the suspect was apprehended by a one James Peter Akuru on Wednesday 25.10.2011 at 4.00am after hearing the goat repeatedly bleating in an unfamiliar way. The goat belonged to his mother Amina Ayubu who was attending funeral rites in Busia.

Enslaving Kenyans in Middle East


“]Some of the victims of the modern day slavery who shared their experiences with The Underworld. [PHOTOS/ AMOS KAREITHI/STANDARD]
Some of the victims of the modern day slavery who shared their experiences with The Underworld. [PHOTOS/ AMOS KAREITHI/STANDARD
A crop of new breed of brokers is redefining modern day slavery by luring thousands of desperate jobseekers into a life of servitude in foreign lands
Some of the jobseekers have been sweet-talked into selling their assets to finance their journeys into a life of servitude in a foreign country where they cannot communicate with their masters.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Police start crackdown on Al Shabaab sympathisers

Somali president opposes Kenyan military intervention


While the Islamists had already threatened revenge attacks, the public opposition of Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed further raised the stakes over the controversial cross-border incursion.
“Somalia’s government and its people will not allow forces entering its soil without prior agreement,” Sharif told reporters in Mogadishu. “There is only one thing we know about the Kenyan forces, and that is their offer of training to the national army of Somalia.”

Man arrested with 13 grenades in Nairobi

Police have recovered 13 grenades and arrested a man after raiding his house in Kayole estate Tuesday.
A search conducted by a combined force of regular and anti-terrorism officers further yielded an AK-47 assault rifle, four revolvers and a sub-machine gun.
The arrest comes just a day after two grenade explosions hit the Nairobi leaving one dead and 25 injured.
Police were still searching his house near the Kayole Social Hall Tuesday evening for more clues.

Court orders Moi son to increase allowance




Photo/PAUL WAWERU/NATION Lawyer Judy Thongori and Philip Moi’s estranged wife Rosanna Pluda Moi at a Nairobi court on October 7, 2011.
Photo/PAUL WAWERU/NATION Lawyer Judy Thongori and Philip Moi’s estranged wife Rosanna Pluda Moi at a Nairobi court on October 7, 2011.
A son of former president Daniel Moi has been ordered to increase the monthly allowance of his estranged wife from Sh60,000 to Sh250,000 a month.
Mr Justice J.B. Kariuki ruled that Mr Philip Moi should take responsibility for his family and pay his wife, Rossana Pluda Moi, the money.
Ms Pluda had filed an application seeking an increase of the amount, arguing that the Sh60,000 monthly upkeep was not enough to cater for her daily needs and rent.
She said that she sought the increment in the interest of the children and justice.

Monday, October 24, 2011

How Al Shaabab militants are smuggling arms into Kenya

Medics assist one of 14 victims injured in the grenade attack



Medics assist one of 14 victims injured in the grenade attack
Medics assist one of 14 victims injured in the grenade attack
A grenade was thrown into a discotheque (Mwaura’s Club on Mfangano Street) in the bustling centre of Kenyan capital Nairobi wounding 14 people, central Nairobi police chief Eric Mugambi said.
Witnesses said that people were still drinking in the pub but its doors had been shut when a man walked there and asked to be let in shortly before 3am.
“That is when he hurled the grenade and fled the scene,”

Nairobi grenade attack




A victim of the explosion is attended to by a nurse in the emergency wing of Kenyatta National Hospital in the capital
A victim of the explosion is attended to by a nurse in the emergency wing of Kenyatta National Hospital in the capital
An officer secures the scene outside the club with police tape. The ground can be seen littered with debris
An officer secures the scene outside the club with police tape. The ground can be seen littered with debris

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Kenyan troops approach Bur Gavo

Nairobi nightclub grenade attack injures 14


A grenade attack on a nightclub in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, has left 14 people injured, say police.
The grenade was throw in the club early on Monday morning - the motive was not immediately clear.
The attack comes a week after Kenya sent troops into Somalia to track down members of the militant group al-Shabab, which Nairobi blames for a series of kidnappings in recent weeks.
Al-Shabab had threatened reprisal attacks if the troops did not leave.
The al-Qaeda-linked Islamist group, which controls much of southern and central Somalia, has denied carrying out any abductions.

US Embassy: Imminent Terror Attack in Kenya Possible


US Embassy: Imminent Terror Attack in Kenya Possible
The U.S. Embassy is warning that an imminent terrorist attack in Kenya is possible. The warning said likely targets include places that foreigners congregate, including shopping malls and night clubs. The embassy issued the warning from what it called credible information.

The U.S. did not specify who might carry out such an attack, but the warning comes a week after Kenyan troops pushed into Somalia to attack al-Shabab militants. Al-Shabab carried out attacks in July in Uganda which killed 76 people.

 Source- http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/story/2011-10-22/kenya-terror-warning/50869464/1?csp=34news
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Unintentional Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status: Causes, Consequences and Prevention


Becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) of the United States is often a long and difficult process for foreign nationals. Obtaining LPR status leads to a multitude of benefits, including the freedom to live and work anywhere in the U.S., as well as qualify for social welfare programs and government financial aid for higher education. It is also one step closer to becoming eligible for U.S. citizenship. Permanent residence may be obtained through a U.S. citizen or LPR family member, employment, investment, asylum or refugee status, and the diversity lottery. Regardless of how the person became an LPR, he must have the intent to reside permanently in the United States and take precautionary steps to prevent the unintentional abandonment of his LPR status.
The question of abandonment depends on the person’s intent rather than the length of time he spent abroad. Nonetheless, the longer one spends outside the U.S., the harder it becomes to show that he intended to return to the U.S. and live here permanently.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

GN Commentary: Ho, Ho, Halloween - October 30, 2009

Halloween



Jack-o-lanterns have been around for centuries as part of an ancient Celtic celebration at the start of the winter season. The Druids (a sort of pagan priesthood) believed that at this time of year the barriers between our world and the supernatural weakened and broke down. Expecting the souls of the dead to roam the land, they built large bonfires to frighten them off and slaughtered animals—or even people—to appease the evil spirits. The jack-o-lantern represents a poor soul caught between the two worlds, and some believe it served as a warning meant to ward off bad spirits. Incidentally, pumpkins are not common in Europe, so the original jack-o-lanterns were carved from turnips (The Encyclopedia of Religion, 1987, p. 176, "Halloween").
Carved vegetables, talismans against evil spirits, human sacrifice—these are not in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ. Halloween is still looked to by some as All Hallows' Eve—the night before the Catholic All Saints' Day, a supposedly holy occasion. Yet with all its ties to the occult and dark forces, Halloween is anything but holy. And it's now shunned by many professing Christians. They see no value in celebrating a holiday that clearly originated from polytheism (the worship of multiple gods) and animism (belief in spiritual forces in inanimate objects). Such religions have been broadly referred to as pagan in Western societies since the time of the late Roman Empire.
If most of the beliefs and practices associated with Halloween originated in paganism, does the pagan influence end there?

Thursday, October 20, 2011




Harold Camping says the end of the world is definitely October 21, 2011


Harold Camping, the Family Radio evangelist who wrongly predicteddoomsday back in May, says the real end of the world is now Oct. 21.

Harold Camping predicted that the world would end last May. It didn’t. (Marcio Jose Sanchez - ASSOCIATED PRESS)
In a message on his Web site, Camping declares that next Friday, “at this point, looks like it will be the final end of everything.”
Newser points out that Camping explains his May prediction mistake in another post on his site. May 21 was the “spiritual” End of the World, he says. As for the earthquakes he predicted, they apparently came in the form of “man-quakes,” since mankind shook with fear from the Rapture and the book of Genesis describes man as made from dirt.
Those who weren’t saved on May 21, Camping says, “will be annihilated together with the whole physical world on October 21, 2011.”

Footage shows Gaddafi's bloodied body

Libyan Dictator Moammar Gadhafi Is Dead, Libya's Prime Minister Says



A Kenyan Man Arrested for Sexual Abuse of Minors in Pennsylvania


A Kenyan Man Arrested for Sexual Abuse of Minors in Pennsylvania
A Kenyan native living in Hatfield Township accused of videotaping a minor using his private bathroom waived his right to a preliminary hearing Monday afternoon.

Wickiliffe Wepukhulu — who lives in the Hatfield Village Apartments — faces charges of sexual abuse of children, invasion of privacy and related charges from a September incident, according to court papers.

Additionally, the defendant is accused of possession of childhood pornography, three counts of invasion of privacy and possessing an instrument of crime, according to court papers. They state that eight “upskirt” videos were discovered on Wepukhulu’s cell phone and that six of those recordings were made at the Merck Technology Symposium at the Birchwood Manor in Whippany, N.J., on Sept. 20.

Unsafe abortions kill thousands in Kenya




Seventeen-year-old Sharon Okello still writhes in agony from the surgery that removed one of her Fallopian tubes.
The bleeding has eased, but the pain has not and she fills her one-room house in the Kibera slum in Nairobi with faint cries on the days it decides to swell up inside her.
“I got pregnant, but my boyfriend ran away and my mother was supporting my elder sister through school by herself.
“She couldn’t afford to take on another mouth to feed, so I felt like I had no choice.”
Okello came to the decision by herself, taking a cocktail of pills recommended by a friend.
A day later she collapsed at the door of the house she shared with her mother, blood streaming down her legs.
She survived after an emergency operation, but she was one of the lucky ones.
Around 21 000 Kenyan women are hospitalised every year because of complications from unsafe abortions.

Kenyan jets pound Shebab positions in Somalia




NAIROBI (AFP) – Kenyan jets struck in Somalia Wednesday in a bid to rid the border area of Islamist rebels blamed for a spate of abductions, including that of a French woman who died in captivity, officials said.
Kenyan ground troops guided by pro-government Somali forces prepared for a fresh assault against the Shebab insurgents with the blessing of the Western-backed government in Mogadishu and its Ugandan protectors.
Nairobi’s unprecedented military incursion into Somalia, which it said had already killed dozens of Shebab fighters, triggered dire warnings by a top Shebab leader of bloody retaliation.

Nigerian President Sends Wife-Beating Ambassador Back To Kenya




•Ambassador Chijioke (left): A Mike Tyson? The battered wife (right).
•Ambassador Chijioke (left): A Mike Tyson? The battered wife (right).
The embattled Nigerian Ambassador to Kenya and the Seychelles, Dr. Chijioke Wilcox Wigwe, who was recalled by President Goodluck Jonathan in May after reports emerged that he almost beat his wife to death, has gone back to his post, reports said early today.
The reports said the ambassador has been sent back to Nairobi, the Kenyan capital by President Jonathan who acted against the wishes of his advisers and Kenyan authorities.

The Boys of Baraka Pt.3

The Boys of Baraka Pt.2

The Boys of Baraka Pt.1

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Porn Causes Brain Damage



In today's culture, porn is not going away. You can avoid the damage this sin causes.

by Howard Davis

Let's face it. After 20 years of exposure to thousands of hours of pornography, Jack's brain didn't work the way it did when he started secretly viewing it as a young adult. In fact, it hardly worked at all.

Eventually Jack's wife, Laurie Hall, left him and wrote her true-life experience in the book An Affair of the Mind. Mark Kastleman quotes from her book at NetNanny.com, including a quote from Dr. Ron Miller after he examined Jack. Dr. Miller told Jack: "You've destroyed your mind by fantasizing. You've dug a deep channel going in one direction. The rest of your mind is atrophied!"








The occasional use of porn for a few minutes of secret pleasure as a young adult planted the seeds of his neurological destruction. It reduced Jack's high-level engineering brain, trained through a college degree and years in a professional management position, into a bumbling nightmare of blank staring and the inability to remember even the simplest activities of daily living (such as boiling tea in the kitchen) or to hold a meaningful conversation. 

Why Did God Create Tobacco?

“He had been through this operation before, and the doctors had told him then the same thing they were telling him now”: “You have to quit smoking”. This is what the Doctors said to one of my friend, and that left me with this question: Why Did God Create Tobacco?

With such vivid attestation and/or evidence of the medical dangers of smoking tobacco, we may sometimes wonder: Why did God create such a plant?

Is there a positive reason for God to have created a plant that causes so much death?

When God finished creating in Genesis 1, He stated that all He had made was "very good" (verse 31). Does this mean that it's okay to use the tobacco plant in the form of cigarettes, cigars, pipe smoking, chewing tobacco or snuff?

No, it doesn't—anymore than it's all right to eat poisonous plants, overeat, overdrink, or go to extremes with or misuse other parts of God's creation. In addition to the medical evidence showing that smoking, chewing or snorting tobacco is not good for us, biblical principles reveal that such use of tobacco is contrary to what God wants us to do.

So, is there any good to come from the tobacco plant?

Kenyan Woman Sewing Her Way Out of Poverty




Jane Ngoiri with her son, Anthony, in Nairobi's Mathare slums, where she lived before moving to a safe suburb. The scar on her forehead is the result of being smashed with a rock by a gang member in Mathare, where crime is rampant. She nearly died from the attack. Credit: Nicholas D. Kristof/The New York Times
Jane Ngoiri with her son, Anthony, in Nairobi's Mathare slums, where she lived before moving to a safe suburb. The scar on her forehead is the result of being smashed with a rock by a gang member in Mathare, where crime is rampant. She nearly died from the attack. Credit: Nicholas D. Kristof/The New York Times
I came to Kenya partly to help make a PBS documentary about empowering women as a way to lift families and communities — men included — out of poverty. And I promptly met a prostitute-turned-businesswoman who epitomizes that theme.
Jane Ngoiri is a 38-year-old single mom who grew up in a slum and dropped out of school after the eighth grade. She married at age 18, but when she was pregnant with her second child, her husband informally took a second wife (polygamy is common for Christians here as well as Muslims), and she was nudged out. Jane soon found herself with small children, no home and no money.
Jane in front of her new house in the suburbs. She bought the home on a mortgage, partly to raise her family in a safer environment, and partly to get access to better schools. But there are new difficulties: she is farther from her sewing customers and must spend far more money and time getting to the markets where she buys and sells dresses. And her cellphone doesn’t work well here, which can cost her business. Credit: Nicholas D. Kristof/The New York Times
Jane in front of her new house in the suburbs. She bought the home on a mortgage, partly to raise her family in a safer environment, and partly to get access to better schools. But there are new difficulties: she is farther from her sewing customers and must spend far more money and time getting to the markets where she buys and sells dresses. And her cellphone doesn’t work well here, which can cost her business. Credit: Nicholas D. Kristof/The New York Times
To survive, she sold her body for the next five years. It was a perilous existence in Mathare, a collection of dangerous slums in Nairobi. The area, a warren of winding, muddy alleys, is consumed by crime and despair.
Regular jobs are rare, and many men self-medicate in ways that perpetuate self-destructive cycles of hopelessness. Social workers estimate that one-third of the slum’s men get drunk every night — spending about $1.50 an evening, which could otherwise finance their children’s education. Poverty becomes self-replicating.
Then in 1999, Jane joined an antipoverty organization called Jamii Bora, which means “good families” in Swahili. The group, founded by 50 street beggars with the help of a Swedish woman, Ingrid Munro, who still lives in Nairobi, became Kenya’s largest microfinance organization, with more than 300,000 members. But it also runs entrepreneurship training, a sobriety campaign to reduce alcoholism, and a housing program to help slum-dwellers move to the suburbs.
In Jamii Bora, Jane was pushed to save for the future, to lean forward. There is growing evidence that the most powerful element of microfinance is not microlending, but microsavings, and that’s how Jamii Bora starts: it encourages members to save small amounts, perhaps just 50 cents a week. Then members are coached to use those savings, coupled with loans and training, to start tiny businesses.
Jane learned to sew, left prostitution and used her savings and a small loan to buy a sewing machine. She began buying secondhand wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses for about $7 each, and then cutting them up to make two or three smaller dresses.
Jane’s business flourished, and she used her profits to buy a small home in a safe suburb and to keep her children in school. Her eldest daughter, Caroline, became the first child in the family to graduate from high school and is now taking computer classes.
The intellectual star of the family is Anthony, the second child, who is ranked No. 1 in his class of 138 pupils at a good boarding school with much richer students. Anthony, a star soccer player even though he has no soccer shoes, hopes to go to college and become an engineer. He told me that when he gets his first paycheck, he’s going to buy something beautiful for his mom — and his eyes glistened as he spoke.
Another child, Cynthia, a seventh grader, has just been chosen by teachers to become head girl of her school next year, a tribute to her grades and leadership. Jane hopes to send Cynthia, who dreams of being a lawyer, to a good boarding school as well, but it’s difficult to see how she will pay all these tuition costs.
Careful research by Professor Esther Duflo of M.I.T. and other economists suggests that microfinance can chip away at poverty but is not a panacea. You see that in Jane’s life.
After I finished my interviews, catastrophe struck. Cynthia’s big toe was mangled in a traffic accident, and ultimately it was amputated — a disfigurement in a country where people routinely wear sandals. Jane devoted every scrap of savings to medical costs — leaving Anthony unable to return to school.
Our documentary team took up a collection, and Anthony is now back in class. But the crisis was a reminder of how fragile the family’s gains are. Jane’s life reflects the lesson of mountains of data: overcoming poverty is a tumultuous and uncertain task, but it can be done.
There’s a tendency these days to give up on poverty, to dismiss it as a sad but inevitable feature of humanity, particularly at a time when we have deep economic problems of our own. But if a former prostitute in a Nairobi slum can build a dressmaking business, buy a home in the suburbs and produce over-achievers like Caroline, Anthony and Cynthia, then it’s worth remembering that sheer grit, and a helping hand, can sometimes blaze trails where none seem possible.
If readers want to help by sending Jane old bridesmaid dresses to boost her sewing business, I have information about how to do so on my blog.

New skill helps Kenyan man find love



Otieno Abala has a physical disability, due to having polio as a child. He used to scrape together a living as a cobbler.
Three years ago he was a batchelor. On a Practical Action project he learnt how to install improved stoves which were more fuel efficient, and healthier as they produce less smoke. Now he could earn more money Otieno realised that he would be able to save enough for the all-important dowry.  In Kenyan culture this is important as it shows that a man has sufficient income to keep a wife.  Now he is happily married to Caroline.
Otieno surprised trainers by learning all the skills required in a day. “The training takes nine days, but to my astonishment, he learnt the entire course in a day,” says Ms Herine Kawaka, the programme leader.
“I usually made about Sh300 (£2.50) per day as a cobbler,” says Otieno. But my life is changing due to the new skills. I am now better placed to earn more,” he beams. “Due to poverty, I was not able to gain formal education. This limited the jobs I could secure or business I could venture into.”
He says physically-challenged people become dependent on other people because they cannot get education or buy aids like wheelchairs: “If I had a wheelchair in my childhood, perhaps I would have become even a teacher.”
Otieno is determined to get ahead in spite of a lack of formal education. Already, he has spent the money earned from the project to pay a dowry.

A new wife

His new wife Caroline says he is caring and hard-working. Otieno says the new business pays for all his daily needs, reducing dependence on his parents and six siblings. But he faces a number of challenges.
“Last week, I went to fix a jiko (improvised stove) in Ng’iya market, three kilometres from here. By the end of the day, I was very tired,” he says. “On some days, I get many orders. Potential clients get disappointed when I fail to turn up to install their jiko on time.”
A client, Margaret Achieng, says Otieno fixed hers a month ago: “He did the work within 30 minutes and assured me the jiko would function well. Indeed it has.”

A typical day

On a typical day, Otieno wakes up at 6am and hits the road to whichever homestead needs his skills first. “I call it a day at around 6pm. I then spend some time with my wife before going to bed at 10pm.” Otieno says most physically challenged people suffer as a result of lack of funds to support them.
Source: Practicalaction.org