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How things fall apart for Kenyans in US

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When news about Al-Shabaab bride Violet Kemunto bride broke out last month, the Nation team set out on a mission to locate her home in Kisii County.

A lead took the team to Nyankoba in Kitutu Masaba and Kiomiti in Nyaribari Masaba. It is there that they ended up locating the home of Violet Nyaroka, not her real name. Except she wasn’t Violet. Her story was different.

Nyaroka has been in the US since 2006 and her relatives say she went there on a green card. She later informed them that she had enrolled in a college to study medicine.

In the years since 2006, she has visited her relatives in Kisii only once, back in January 2018, when she came for her mother’s burial. Her father died in 2001. After he died, her grandparents took up the role of funding her education in Kenya.

Her kin told the Nation that they do not know much about their granddaughter’s life or what she does now in the US.

“All I know is that she went to study medicine. We rarely communicate and when we do, it is usually brief with very scanty disclosures. We last spoke two months ago when I was inquiring about some succession issues regarding our parents’ property,” said Nyaroka’s brother.

When the Nation contacted Nyaroka for comment on the concerns raised by her relatives, her response was curt.

“And who are you? Stop threatening me. Where I live and what I do is nobody’s business. Mind your own business,” she said.

Nyaroka is among many Kenyans who reside in the US but have gone quiet on their families, with little known about their lives.

Her case is not unusual, David Ombati, a senior chief in Masaba South Sub-County, told the Nation.

“Many other people from this region have left for the US. How they go and what they do is not known. And with the nature of today’s life where people do not want to be bothered, it becomes difficult to ask questions,” he said.

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Cases of Kenyan immigrants in the US failing to return home for decades have left many of their relatives worried, sometimes more about their plight.

According to a 2018 Bloomberg report, there are 120,000 Kenyans who legally live and work in the US.

The figure could be higher when illegal immigrants are accounted for, especially those who go on student or visitor’s visas but do not return when they expire.

But many other Kenyans are stuck in America even when they could be better off here, and some rarely visit or talk to relatives.

Former University of Nairobi lecturer Omari Onyango said various circumstances force some Kenyans to continue living in the US even when it harms their well-being.

“There are those who have tried to find either meaningful employment or a viable business in Kenya before they can relocate. Both are difficult to come by for various reasons,” said Dr Onyango, who runs a successful dental clinic in Los Angeles, California.

Onyango, quoting an unpublished manuscript by Dr Marvin Opiyo titled Stuck in the USA: African Immigrants, said Kenyans who have established families in America find themselves stuck there because academic standards are superior and schools are well-funded and more reliable than in Kenya.

“In regard to employment, Kenya is experiencing a high unemployment rate and so to land a job with similar benefits as is the case in the US is difficult,” said Onyango.

He added: “Those who have tried to start a business in Kenya end up losing large sums of money because of lack of honesty among their relatives. Nobody wants to relocate until they have an ongoing income-generating venture back home.”

Opiyo, who is a teacher in California, says high and unrealistic expectations have landed many Kenyans in the US in trouble.

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“The school system in America is not easy. Many people do not understand this system before they start putting high demands on people who live in America,” said Opiyo.

“Kenyans, especially women, enjoy expanded social and economic freedom abundant in the US and, therefore, find no incentive to return to Kenya.”

Onyango said weak law enforcement agencies also make Kenyans in the diaspora reluctant to return home.

A story is told of a man from Bomachoge in Kisii County who went to the US ostensibly for further studies. Only death brought him home after two decades in America.

Joseph Omambia, not his real name, abandoned his wife and three children 10 years ago. They are now in college and only see him on WhatsApp.

Their mother, a senior official in a Kenyan parastatal, has been taking care of their children alone.

In another case, when Tom Orina, not his real name, left his parents’ Karen home in Nairobi for the US about 20 years ago to complete his undergraduate degree in business management, he did not know what awaited him.

When his father, a former Kanu operative in President Daniel arap Moi’s regime, mooted the idea that the young man should transfer from the United States International University (USIU-Africa) to a university in San Diego, he was halfway through his studies.

Before young Orina took his flight to the US, his father convened a fundraiser in which millions were raised for his college tuition, accommodation and living expenses.

His father booked his flight to the US and promised to send him the money before he landed in California, saying it would be risky to carry the cash to America.

Soon after arriving in California, Orina found out that his father had not sent a penny to the college admissions office.

His calls went unanswered. His mother, unemployed and dependent on subsistence farming in western Kenya, did not have money to bail him out and soon found himself among the homeless.

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US-based Kenyan journalist Peter Makori said that there are many other students from Kenya whose parents sent them to America on the false hope that it is the land of dreams, milk and honey, where everything works out well in the end.

“What they don’t appreciate is that when you come on a student visa, you risk deportation if you’re caught doing any job,” Makori said.

The strict enforcement of the law in the US has seen many Kenyan immigrants locked up.

In November last year, Kenyans living in Minnesota convened a meeting to deliberate on how the community could salvage its badly damaged image.

The meeting took place against the backdrop of an increasing number of Kenyans being imprisoned for engaging in criminal activities.

Makori said several Kenyans, especially men, have been arrested and charged with rape and wife-battering.

In June last year, a group of Kenyan immigrant men met in Atlanta, Georgia, and formed “Maendeleo ya Wanaume(an empowerment group for men) to rail against women, many of them Kenyans, who allegedly called police on them at the slightest provocation.

A documentary written and produced by Kaba Mbugua shed light on some untold challenges Kenyans face as immigrants in the US.

The film, released in Raleigh, North Carolina, features a number of Kenyans who candidly share their ordeals in the US.

The documentary revealed that many Kenyans, just like other immigrants, struggle to make ends meet.

Challenges have at times led some — especially the young — to fall into bad company, ending up in jail, shelters for the homeless, on a forced flight back home or even death.

The film highlights the misconceptions held by Kenyans about life in the “land of the free.”

Source: Daily Nation

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Diaspora

Kenyan woman battling cancer in US appeals for help to pay her house rent

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BY BMJ MURIITHI

A US-based Kenyan woman has touched the hearts of many with her story. Zipporah Kamau who was diagnosed with one of the most devastating forms of cancer last year and has been going through Chemotherapy in Seattle, Washington, says the doctors recently told her that she had only three days to live.

Her story is heartbreaking to say the least. In a tragic twist of fate, soon after she arrived in the US in November 2017, her son was struck by a car and died in Nairobi.

When she and her then husband attended the funeral, he passport got lost and she was forced to apply for travel documents to get back to the US.

She stayed in Atlanta, Georgia, for a while before relocating to Seattle to live with her friend, only identified as Beth. It was then that she got sick and was diagnosed with Lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer that begins in infection-fighting cells of the immune system, called lymphocytes. Now the doctors tell her that she may need to go through dialysis as her kidneys are failing.

“I have gone through 9 rounds of Chemo and now they have told me that I have to start another round of palliative chemotherapy but I don’t think I can do it any more. My body is totally ruined by the previous round of Chemo,” she tells Jeremy Damaris of Kikuyu Diaspora TV in an interview.

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“They recently said I had only three days to live and that my kidneys are affected..but I know I can live longer than that in Jesus mighty name,” she adds.

Zipporah Kamau (Right) pictured here at an event in Kenya in 2016. PHOTO/BMJ MURIITHI

Looking emaciated and weak, she appeals to well wishers to come to her aid and help her to at least pay her house rent which has accumulated to over $4,000 as she has not done so since June last year.

“I live with a friend where I am supposed to pay $600 a month but because of my condition, I have’t been able to meet my end of the bargain for the last six months. My roommate is a very nice lady but she can only do so much,” says Zipporah as she fights off tears.

Zipporah Kamau during the interview. PHOTO/SCREEN GRAB

During the interview, she sends a message to her children back in Kenya. “Whatever happens, just know that I love you all very much,” she says, after calling each of them by name. She wishes she could pay fees for her children who are in college. “I hope to see you some day when I get stronger,” she tells them.

Photos taken in 2016 show a healthy looking  and bubbly woman compared to the recent pictures which depict a pale shadow of her former self. You may send your donation via CASHAPP.  The number is +1 253 499 3845 (Zipporah Kamau) or via MPESA at +254 718 504 548 (Jeremy Wambui)

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To get the full story, Watch the video below [in Gikuyu] courtesy of KDTV:

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Diaspora

VIDEO: Kenyan-born Gospel Musician set to launch new DVD/CD in US

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BY BMJ MURIITHI

Renowned Dallas-based gospel arstiste, Lizz Ndung’u MD is set launch her latest album in Texas this coming weekend (Sunday February 24th, 2019) at Rhema Gospel Church: 2700 Warren Circle, Irving, Texas 76502 at 2:30 PM. 

The forthcoming album is titled “Ndimuirigire”  ( I am guarded) which talks about how God  protects His people by surrounding them with a divine hedge of fire.

Besides being a singer, the former Atlanta resident is also a song writer whose star has continued to rise since she launched her first CD six years ago.

Her first album titled  “kirigiriro” (Hope) was released in 2013 while the second album entitled “Ngai ndarikitie nawe” (God id not done with you yet) was launched in 2016.

“I consider it  a huge blessing to introduce an additional name in my third album, ‘MD’ which stands for my husband. My previous albums only bore my first two names, Lizz Ndung’u, but I have since gotten married and I thank God greatly for that,” said Lizz in a Press Statement sent to KSN this week.

The event, which will be presided over by Rev. Dr.  Solomon Waigwa will be graced by a retinue of fellow gospel artistes with popular Diaspora media personality Jeremy Damaris as the Master of Ceremonies (MC).

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Lizz says the new album has already  powerfully ministered to her personally even as she looks forward to the launch. “God has been truly gracious to me and my family,” she says.

Her music is in both Kikuyu and Kiswahili and most of it is about giving hope and encouraging people to have courage as they face the challenges of life.

She says this new release will touch many in a myriad ways besides being a blessing to those who will watch or listen to it.

Lizz can be reached through her facebook  profile: @ Lizz ndungu. Her music Facebook  page  is @Lizznproductions while her email address is endungu95@gmail.com.

She and her husband Davis MD Maina  can also be reached via her phone number –404 751-6781

They welcome all friends and well wishers to Sunday’s event.

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Diaspora

STRANGE: Kenyan man in US says women reject him because he is a perfectionist, great cook

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A Kenyan man in Boston, Massachusetts in the US cannot find a wife because he is a great cook. Albert Kiage is not your average ‘hustler’. He has everything going for him. He has a good job, a string of real estate properties in the United States and Kenya and drives top-of-the-range SUVs.

His house is furnished with all the fancy electronic gadgets anyone would wish for in life. What’s more, Kiage’s says he has a balance worth writing home about in his bank account. What Kiage, however, lacks is a wife.

Not that he has not tried getting one. He is divorced once and has watched three women leave him because he is not only too clean, but also a great cook and a perfectionist to boot.

“I think I am an incurable germophobe, with an OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) that drives women away. I had constant wrangles with my first wife over small matters of hygiene and we divorced in 2007 after two years of marriage. I couldn’t stand her. I found her too dirty for my house. We just couldn’t cope,” complains Kiage.

Biggest problem

He says he has dated three women since then. In all the cases, he says, the relationships were serious and he hoped they would lead to marriage.

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Unfortunately, that was not to be. “The problem has always been the same. The first one always complained that I am a perfectionist. The two other cases were almost similar, with one complaining about my insistence to cook all the time. Truth of the matter is she was a joke in the kitchen,” says the accountant.

His biggest problem with most women stems from the fact that he is an incredible cook. Having lived his entire adult life single, save for the short-lived marriage, he has perfected his cooking skills and can’t stand bad food.

“You can only eat out for so long,” he says. “As a gym enthusiast, you want natural foods which you cannot find readily when you eat out. I am also very keen with my diet, it has to be balanced,” he says.

Living alone has taught him many things, culinary-wise. He can whip up every discernible Kenyan meal, including chapatis. “In fact some Kenyan female friends even come for chapatis, cake and barbecues at my home over the weekends. They know I am good at it. We always laugh over my obsession for cooking and cleanliness, but it’s never that serious,” he says. This, however, comes at a cost. It has continuously kept potential wives away.

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House wife

They come, settle, try to keep up with his standards, but many cannot. Partly because life is too busy in the United States for anyone to depend on homemade food every day of the week, and partly because Kiage must eat at home. He is able to do it. He doesn’t see why he should relent. Not that he chases them away. They just chicken out.

“They become increasingly uncomfortable, since I insist on cooking for both of us. I don’t mind at all. But many say, it is un-African,” he says. He says many women in America, whereas they are busy and crave independence, they still want a chance to play the role of a traditional house wife. And many are not ready to compete with him in roles that were traditionally considered to belong to women.

Kiage says his culinary skills must have been nurtured when he was young, when he was growing up with his father in Eldoret.

“I lived with my father and I used to do everything on my own. So I learned everything and became quite independent. Living as a bachelor only made me perfect the skills,” he says. He says he is praying and hoping to find a fellow perfectionist to settle down with.

READ ALSO:   Meet a young Kenyan woman who is behind a program to feed 1,200 needy kids

Source: Standardmedia.co.ke

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