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VIDEO: Kenyans in US open up on untold challenges they face in new documentary

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BY BMJ MURIITHI

A new documentary released in the US over the weekend is shedding light on some hitherto untold challenges Kenyans face as immigrants in that country.

Written and produced by Kaba Mbugua, the film which was released Saturday in Raleigh, North Carolina, features a number of Kenyans who candidly tell their own real life stories.

Official estimates put the number of Kenyans living in the United States at 130,000. The figure has however been disputed in some quarters with some claiming that there are at least 300,000 immigrants from the East African nation. Many hold well paying jobs or run successful enterprises while others are students.

The documentary however shows that some Kenyans, just like the rest of the immigrants from other countries,  struggle to make ends meet. A myriad of challenges have sometimes led some – especially the youth – to fall into bad company, ending up in jail, homeless shelters, on a forced flight back home or, in extreme cases, even dead. The film highlights  the misconceptions held by some Kenyans about life in the ‘land of the free’ and the subsequent effects.

“I was a criminal…I was arrested for illegal possession of a gun and cocaine” reveals James Njoroge who has since been deported. “I smoked Marijuana and had many minor violations,” he adds.

Ms Alice Raine, who has since returned to Kenya tells of how uninformed she was about life in the US before leaving Nairobi.

She explains how shocked she was when she arrived in the US.

“We used to eat from trash cans because we had no food and the restaurant where we worked would not let us touch the “expired” food,” she says, referring to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) laws which are strictly observed by eateries in the US.

“Our first year was terrible. We had come on a one way ticket and so we couldn’t go back,” she adds.

“Many Kenyan professionals who are well educated find themselves doing very demeaning menial jobs just to make ends meet in the US. This is simply because they do not have the requisite papers to enable them compete on equal terms with other job seekers,” says another Kenyan.

Wariara Thuo explains how difficult it was to get a place to stay and a car soon after she arrived in the country.

“They wanted to see my documents everywhere I went.”

But some Kenyans here don’t give up easily and they opt for marriage, explains Japheth Matemu, a US-based immigration lawyer.

“However, citizenship through marriage is not as easy as some think. It must be a one-woman-one man union and it has to be entered into in good faith in order to be recognised by federal law,” he adds.

He says many Kenyans who are married in Kenya are denied an opportunity to adjust their status because they never divorced their spouses and the records show it.

“They forget that there is a record trail from the time they applied for their visa as they mentioned that they were married in order to increase the chances of getting the coveted document ,” he says.

Matemu explains why the “Kenyan mindset” has landed many Kenyans in US jails. “Some things that are not taken very seriously in Kenya are sometimes considered outright criminal in the United States. Many Kenyans, especially young people, have ended up in jail for crimes like driving under the influence (DUI), which in comparison, is not taken very seriously in Kenya,” he adds.

Documentary film make Kaba Mbugua. PHOTO/COURTESY

He says people who overstay their visas have it very rough but they hardly talk about it because they would not like their families and friends back home to know of their predicament. Matemu however says life for Kenyans with valid student visas is relatively easy.”

“If you come here on a student visa, then you are also allowed to work and sustain yourself. Holders of some other Visas like the DV (popularly known as Green Card), are also good to go,” he says.

He however warns against “Marriage for papers.”

Mbijiwe Mwenda, a counselor with Family Development Institute says some people have made “a business venture” out of marriage. He tells of how they marry for papers and divorce as soon as the marriage “matures,” only to get married to another “client” soon afterwards.

“They pocket about three thousand dollars (Sh 320,000) every two to three years for marriages that have nothing to do with bedroom affairs,” he says.

Joseck Asikoye of Jabali Africa explains why he thinks cases of domestic violence among Kenyan couples in the US are on the rise.

“Pent up anger among  Kenyan men in the US is one of the reasons some are killing themselves. He says they find it difficult  to “bring out the Kenyan men in them” due to the repercussions of such acts. You can’t physically discipline your wife here,” he says.

“You have to do your homework before relocating to the US. If you are violent by nature, the America is not for you because the authorities are zero tolerant to violence,” he says.

Willie Owusu & Ndungi Githuku in action
PHOTO/COURTESY by metta metta ART

Ms Kanyi, who came to the US at age 7,  tells of how she fell into bad company leading to her deportation at the age of 17. If you don’t have papers and you get yourself into criminal activities in the US, that is a sure air ticket back to your motherland,” she says.

I had Kenya friends in the US who took their own lives,” adds Kanyi.

Francis Maina also tells his story. He explains how he was stuck in the US for 13 years and couldn’t invite his family after he overstayed his visa.

Asikoye Justus advises Kenyans who immigrate to the US to obey the law. “There is no short cut here. There are many people rotting in jail,” he says.

Film maker Kaba Kaba in action. PHOTO/COURTESY

The 37-minute long film is  written by Kaba Mbugua and the soundtrack is by Jabal Africa. Audio post-production is done by Kenyan thespian, Ndungi Githuku.

Watch it here courtesy of Kaba Kaba Films:

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Business

SPONSORED: Optiven Thanks Diaspora Community as Hundreds are offered fully Paid Holiday for a Record 6th Time

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Optiven Group has a vision of economically and socially empowering and Transforming the society. As a follow-up to this vision, hundreds of customers whose majority are from Diaspora were given a treat of the end of year at PrideInn Flamingo Beach Resort – Mombasa.

This offer was for all those who had invested during the promotion of Tujibambe Mombasani where one was to purchase and pay a property from 1.7M and above.

This was right on the heels of the prior campaigns as follows:

👉🏽Tembeza Mpenzi – Amboseli https://youtu.be/gdu935WbGcI

👉🏽Dinner with a LION – Maasai Mara https://youtu.be/9PKv6ljLAho

👉🏽Lipa CashTwende Mombasa SEASON 3 https://youtu.be/a8hper39wj0

👉🏽Lipa CashTwende Mombasa SEASON 2 https://youtu.be/ZdvPaEU8EY8

👉🏽Lipa CashTwende Mombasa SEASON 1 https://youtu.be/V80a-jaFZlk

Optiven is happy to bring these great customers together to network. Know each other & build a strong community

We now look forward to rewarding hundreds of customers who are catching up with our current campaign TAJIRIKA NA OPTIVEN APP campaign.

This campaign rewards customers who purchase land through the Optiven App. It also rewards those who refer others through the App. It is a win win as all parties benefit. This is actually giving every Kenyan globally to have a piece of Optiven.

👉🏽Tajirika Na Optiven App – https://youtu.be/2TGPRXffI28

Join the Optiven family today and keep enjoying our Philanthropic offers and give aways from time to time.

Call us/ WhatsApp us on: +254 723 400 500
Website: www.optiven.co.ke

 

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Diaspora

I just turned 40…I came to the US when I was 20; What Have I Learned?

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BY JANE MUKAMI

It has been 20 years since I arrived in the U.S. from Kenyan – where did time go? I was 20 years old when I got to Atlanta with no idea how life would unfold. Now at 40 years old, What have I learned?

  1. The land of milk and honey does provide opportunities for success but nothing is handed to you…you gotta milk the cow AKA work hard for the milk and honey. My 1st job was a cashier at Wendy’s making $5.50 [500/=] an hour, but that was just the beginning #StartWhereYouAre #StartWithWhatYouHave.
  2. Success is relative and should be defined by you and not by society. My definition of success is being happy doing what I love while experiencing freedom – debt freedom, financial freedom and location freedom – ability to serve my clients/work from anywhere in the world #DefineYourSuccess.
  3. Success requires continued learning/education, breaking away from doing the same ol’ things, with the ol’ same people. Growth comes from finding new circles, friends, hiring coaches/mentors, people who inspire + push you to become who you were created to be. It’s ok to be a small fish in a big pond. It gives you room to grow into a whale #LevelUp.
  4. Life’s too short to sweat the small stuff – have fun, laugh, enjoy your journey, protect your space by decreasing negativity, drama, toxic friendships or relationships that do not serve you. Do not worry about what others think or say about you. Focus on you, be intentional about what you want and make it happen – mute all else #GoGet #NoExcuses #StayHungry #StayHumble

Read more about my “Coming to America” story on my website.

Atlanta has been good to me…do I qualify for the title #GeorgiaPeach Even though I don’t like sweet tea, fried chicken, pork rinds, biscuits and gravy, grits, waffles and fried chicken…I’m I the only one still very confused by the words chicken fried steak…?? 🤣🤣

Funny enough, I feel as though the past 20 years were simply a rehearsal, a warm up, a preparation of sorts – my life is just now beginning #selfactualized I’m excited….its #GoTime.  Cheers to 20 more 🥂🥂🇱🇷

 

 

 

 

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Diaspora

Excitement as two young Kenyans get Visas to come study in US through ‘Airlift Program’

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BY BOB MWITI

On November 25th, I woke up to some awesome news in the middle of the night!..I couldn’t sleep anymore!😆😆😆

Congratulations to our 2 Kenya Airlift Program beneficiaries, who just got their US student visas approved! Elosy will be joining University Of South Florida In January 2020, for a Master’s degree in Business Analytics & Information Systems. Neils will be joining Illinois State University In January 2020, for a Master’s degree in Information Systems. We are slowly building a movement of brilliant young Kenyans here in America! Dmk Kiogora..Thank you bro for making this dream a reality! It’s God’s Doing!🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾

To learn more about the program, please download the handbook from the “study in USA” page of our website at www.appstecamerica.com

They say, where there is a will there is a way, and this saying is slowly manifesting itself in one of the most ambitious projects for Kenya’s Diaspora since the Tom Mboya days.

Appstec America, A US-based, Kenyan-owned company, whose founder Bob Mwiti was recognized by African Warrior Magazine in 2018, as one of the 40 most inspiring men in the
diaspora in 2018, has embarked on an ambitious project of airlifting brilliant young Kenyans to study IT-related master’s degrees in some of the top universities in America through its study in
USA flagship program, The Kenya Airlift Program.

Neils and Elosy. PHOTO|COURTESY

In partnership with ABEDS, a Sacco formed by MCA DMK Kiogora of Abogeta West, specifically for the purpose of financing the program, Appstec & ABEDS have so far successfully succeeded in securing visas for 3 beneficiaries to top American Universities (one inAugust this year and 2 others joining school in January 2020). The latter 2 just received their visas, which was proudly shared by Bob & DMK on social media. More other beneficiaries of the program are currently preparing for their entrance exam known as Graduate Management
Admissions Test (GMAT).

Hon DMK was recently recognized for his work in the airlifting program by being awarded the Utumishi Bora Award of 2019. This young energetic leader from Meru County, who is a former University of Nairobi student leader, is transforming his ward and has been hailed as one of the best performing MCAs in the Country.

Bob, who is a former international student faced the many challenges that a lot of African students face in America once they graduate. Challenges to do with good Jobs and long-term  work visa and permanent residency. After he graduated from college in the US, he was not able to secure a job with his MBA and as a result he decided to pursue a career in IT where he trained as a consultant as was immediately able to get a Job as a Systems Analyst working for fortune 500 companies. A job which came with employment-based greencard.

 

Airlifting Program Building Strong Movement of Young Kenyans In AmericaA Kenyan-Owed US based Company Is Slowly Building A Movement Of Brilliant Young Kenyans In America Through Its’ Airlifting Program.

The Kenya Airlift program is trying to solve the challenges that African students like Bob face all the time. Challenge to do with finances for tuition and living expenses which a lot of African

students face and drop out of student immigration status, challenge of getting well-paying Jobs and the challenge of getting post-graduation legal working papers and permanent residency
through employment.

Through the Airlifting program, beneficiaries are able to get unsecured international student loans from a US based lender to the tune of up to USD 50,000, they are also able to get
graduate assistantship scholarships worth thousands of dollars and are also able get relocation expenses loans from ABEDS Sacco of up to USD 6,000.

 

The beneficiaries also get FREE training from Appstec America on the IT skills that are highly needed in the US tech industry. This training is offered on the side, as the beneficiaries pursue
their master’s program so that by the time they graduate, they have the Job skills needed. The training is offered in the areas of Oracle and Robotics Process Automation, which are some
the hottest technologies in the tech Industry today.

Appstec America also intends to help the beneficiaries with Job placement in IT projects in America once they graduate from college. Jobs which will help them repay the loans and also
get work immigration papers and permanent residency through employment.

The program is open to all Kenyans. To learn more about the program, you can download the program handbook from the study in USA page of www.appstecamerica.com.
If you have any questions, you can send an email to scholars@appstecamerica.com or call +1 813-573-5619 ext 402.

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