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How lack of child-friendly loos is causing parents distress

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A middle-aged woman stands along the corridor between the ladies’ and men’s washrooms on the first floor at Garden City Mall in Nairobi. On the surface, she looks like someone who is torn between using either the “ladies” or the “gents”.

Few seconds later, a boy of about five years staggers from the men’s washrooms. Zipping up his trousers and inspecting his hands, the lady asks him if he has washed his hands.

Stammering, the obviously mortified boy tells her that the sink was too high for him. The seemingly impatient woman drags the boy toward the ladies’ washrooms in spite of his resistance.

While this might strike one as a normal procedure, lack of washrooms designed specifically for children is a ordeal that parents and guardians routinely go through in malls and other public places in Kenya.

A spot check by Saturday Nation in Nairobi’s leading restaurants, malls including the The Hub, Prestige Plaza, Junction Mall, Thika Road Mall (TRM) and Garden City and other popular public amenities paints an unflattering picture — most of these facilities do not have restrooms for children.

A significant number of these do not provide potties while their toilet and urinal bowls are either too high or too wide for children’s use.

Those that have family washrooms fall short of providing maximum safety for them, with most lacking anti-skid surfaces, which exposes small children to fatal falls.

Java restaurant along Kimathi Street provides a surface for mothers to change their babies’ diapers in the ladies’ washroom. The men’s restroom, however, does not have a similar feature, should a nursing dad wish to change attend to his baby.

The rest of city restaurants and hotels have neither changing rooms for babies nor facilities that help young children to use the bathroom with ease.

The men’s urinal at TRM for instance, has urinal bowls for young boys. These feature steps on which young boys stand as they pass urine. But even so, these boys have to share the facility with older men.

At the nearby Garden City Mall, only men, women and people living with disabilities have designated restrooms. Children use the facility chosen by the accompanying parent, often to the child’s discomfort.

Unlike in Kenya, many states in the US have laws that require public facilities with more than six toilets to have at least one family restroom.

In many countries in the world, public facilities insist that children older than seven years must use gender-appropriate restrooms.

While a seven-year-old boy or girl may use a toilet unassisted, parents often fear for their children’s safety in the washrooms, owing to cases of defilement and even kidnapping.

Mercy Njeru, a human resource expert and a mother of two boys and one girl aged nine, six and two respectively, believes that separate washrooms for children in malls, restaurants, worship facilities and other public places is not an option but a necessity.

“My greatest fear as a mother is defilement and possible abduction of my children. We live in a country where scary stories of child molestation are rising by the day,” Njeru says. According to her, use of public washrooms, for instance, is a dreadful experience.

“As a parent, you are never sure of the levels of hygiene in the washroom, and as a mother, you cannot enter the “gents” to supervise your son. While waiting outside, you are also not sure if he is following the dos and don’ts of proper toilet use such as sanitising the toilet seat that you have discussed with him. This exposes your child to all manner of germs,” Njeru laments.

Njeru wonders why, for instance, the children’s changing room is the same for both boys and girls at most swimming pools.

“Sometimes I allow my boys to use the men’s changing room even as this makes me uncomfortable. I am always worried about who else might be in the facility and what their motives might be. Yet, as a woman, I cannot just storm the men’s facility to check before my sons go in. It gets very hairy when they take longer than expected,” she says.

She adds: “It’s embarrassing to stand out of the men’s facility and call out their names as they change or relieve themselves. But their safety comes first. I haven’t had a scare, but I am always uneasy whenever they are using washrooms with adults.”

Njeru says supervising her two-year-old daughter with the toilet is easier, as she goes with her to the “ladies”.

Susan Mbabazi, an office assistant in the city, has two nieces and a nephew, all aged below 10 years. On most weekends, she takes them out to play, to eat out and to have fun at the mall.

“My nephew is six years. Whenever I am out with them, the boy must strictly use the ladies’ bathroom. It is safer for him and even myself,” she says.

Susan adds that she cannot risk taking the boy to the men’s washroom “to sooth his ego”. She, however, notes that even ladies’ washrooms are not the best for minors either.

“There are careless women who will be walking naked in the bathroom without a care in the world. Others change their bras in front of the mirror in the glare of everyone in the room. Some iron their panties in the open. As an aunt, these are not spectacles you want a minor to see,” she regrets, adding that malls with gym facilities are notorious for such abandoned behaviour.

The worries of Pauline Wanjira, a mother of two sons aged six and one from Kasarani in Nairobi, are not any different. For Pauline, visiting the malls and other high-traffic public places is a nightmare, especially when they have to use the washroom or change diapers.

“I have had several awkward moments in malls when taking my children out. My son thinks he is old enough to mind himself. Whenever we are at the mall, he insists on using the ‘gents’ but I can’t allow him to use the men’s washrooms if his dad is not with us,” Pauline says, adding: “People are so evil these days and I can’t risk letting him off my sight for even a moment.”

“One time, I was forced to go back home to change my baby’s diapers because the mall did not have a facility for that. It was so frustrating,” she narrates.

“My elder son refuses to use the women’s bathroom. I am always able to make him use it, usually after an argument. But this leaves him embarrassed,” Pauline explains.

As a safety measure, Pauline ensures that her son has used the toilet before leaving home to avoid problems at the mall.

“I am now used to changing my baby’s diapers and suckling him in the car. But malls can do better to help mothers with young children,” she says.

Kindergarten teacher and mother of a teenage boy Nelly Osako says that even schools for small children should promote washrooms for the different sexes, noting that children need to understand the differences in their anatomy from early on.

source:nation.co.ke

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Health

Man in 46-day isolation freed, then slapped with new charge

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When Kelvin Aura heard that he would be held in a police cell after being discharged from a Homa Bay Covid-19 treatment centre, he was disillusioned.

Aura , who was discharged on Saturday, had spent 46 days in an isolation ward, and could not understand the turn of events.

The 27-year-old is the driver who ferried eight mourners with an empty coffin to attend a burial at Kadede village, Kamser Seka Sub-location, Rambira Location in Rachuonyo North Sub-county in April.

Since then, he has been isolated at Malela Covid-19 treatment centre in Ndhiwa Sub-county. When Aura was released at about 11.30am, he knew he would go for a 14-day self-quarantine in his Nairobi home as instructed by medical personnel. His second tribulation began when he arrived at Kendu Bay Police Station to pick his vehicle.

The vehicle had been moved to the police station when he was in quarantine at Homa Bay Kenya Medical Training College in April. Aura said while at the police station he was told he would be charged for giving false information.

“I fainted after realising I was being held instead of going for self-quarantine in my house for 14 days as medics had instructed me. It is then that I was released to go to the home where I had ferried the mourners,” Aura said.

Directorate of criminal investigations

He was released and instructed to report to the office of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations in Nairobi on Tuesday (today). Armed with the appropriate documentation from health officials, the youth was allowed to travel to Nairobi. “I do not know why I am being charged. I only expected to be in self-quarantine,” he said.

Aura, a resident of Mumias in Kakamega County lives in Nairobi where he works as a driver for a transport firm. He decried financial challenges orchestrated by his isolation. “I have not paid two months house rent of Sh30,000. I have only Sh2,500. That is why I am appealing to lawyers and human rights organisations to rescue me,” Aura said.

At the treatment centre, life became unbearable for him due to solitude. His being asymptomatic made him deny that he was coronavirus positive. Aura objected his condition by recording a video which went viral, saying he was not sick.Instead, he appealed to the government to release him from the centre.

“I had no signs of illness yet health professionals were telling me that I was coronavirus positive. I was lonely and desperate,” Aura said.

The denial forced county health officials to counsel him. “They counselled me until I accepted that I was Covid-19 positive. Today, I thank God that I am negative and I am out of the treatment centre,” Aura said. He said the medics treated him well. “They fed me well and gave me drugs. Anything I required they provided for,” he said.

County Health Executive Richard Muga said Aura’s sixth and seventh tests proved he is coronavirus negative. “His first five tests showed he was emitting the virus. The latest tests show he has recovered,” Prof Muga said. Rachuonyo North Sub-county Police Commander Sarah Chumo said she was making inquiry on Aura’s detention at Kendu Bay Police Station.

By Standard.co.ke

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News

Uhuru: Why it can’t wait any longer

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President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday signalled the urgency for Constitutional change and necessity for a new political mindset.

In a passionate pitch made at State House Nairobi during the Madaraka Day celebrations, the President left every impression that he is determined to preside over far-reaching constitutional amendments that will “secure the country’s growth and development”. Previously, Opposition leader Raila Odinga has been the avowed champion of constitutional change.

Conversely, Deputy President William Ruto has been blowing hot and cold with regard to the changes, believing they would cloud an already clear succession path. Both Ruto and Raila were at the State House event.

The past one month has been characterised by ceaseless pounding of the DP’s political edifice and the routing out of his allies.

“A Constitution is not an end in itself; it is a means to a greater end. It is a living document. And if certain elements of the Constitution outlive their historical purposes, they become a cancer. They must be removed or they will infect the good elements of the mother law,” said Uhuru.

Time for change

According to the President, the time for the change is now. He reminded the country of past constitutional changes in 1991 and 2008.

“I am already discerning a constitutional moment. Not a moment to replace the 2010 Constitution, but one to improve on it. A moment that will right what we got wrong in 2010,” he said.

Of the 1991 repeal of Section 2(a) reintroducing multiparty, President Kenyatta said the section had outlived its historical purposes and morphed into “political cancer.”

The 2008 National Accord and Reconciliation Act changes, he said, happened out of historical necessity. In 2008, Raila became the country’s second Prime Minister after Mzee Jomo Kenyatta who transformed into President and Head of State a year after independence. “If the political architecture provided by a Constitution cannot support the growth and progress of a nation, that Constitution becomes cancer to the body politick,” said President Uhuru.

Quoting Kenya’s founding fathers, Mzee Kenyatta, Jaramogi Odinga and Tom Mboya, he said a good Constitution must be responsive to the aspirations of a nation and be a means to a greater end. “Having been involved in the Lancaster constitution-making process in the 1960s, Mboya cautioned the nation against constitutional rigidity,” he said.

At the base of these changes, however, the nation must obtain the right mindset and re-imagine itself, he said. Although the constitutional change is at the core of this re-imagination, a change in civic culture will crown and firm it up.

New kind of leadership

We cannot re-imagine our nationhood without changing our political architecture. And we cannot change this architecture without re-engineering our Constitution,” he said.

Quoting a sermon by Cannon Donaldson of Westminster Abbey, the President bemoaned the difficulties of policing a political culture beset with skulduggery where politics is defined by “Wealth without Work; Pleasure without Conscience; Knowledge without Morality and Worship without Sacrifice”.

He complained of a leadership keen on taking shortcuts, devoid of integrity and lacking in national duty and devotion.

“We need political leaders totally committed to promoting not self, but what will transform lives of our people in line with what our founding fathers yearned for. Indeed, as Martin Luther King Jr said: ‘We need political leaders not in love with money, but in love with justice. Not in love with publicity, but in love with humanity’,” he said.

By The Standard

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Entertainment

Comedian Felix Odiwuor alias Jalang’o has given fans a glimpse at his luxurious Nairobi mansion. “I got a chance to come home much earlier today, it’s looking good

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Comedian Felix Odiwuor alias Jalang’o has given fans a glimpse at his luxurious Nairobi mansion.

Through a series of instagram stories video, Jalang’o, who’s also a radio host at Milele FM offered a glimpse at his affluent home.

The comedian started by showing his sizeable compound complete with a beautiful garden and a small farm.

“I got a chance to come home much earlier today, it’s looking good,” he is heard narrating in the background.

As he pans the camera, a one-story mansion is seen in the background, neighboured by an equally majestic mansion.

The comedian’s affluent home.

Side hustle

Jalang’o also took the chance to introduce his side hustle.

“I am hustler like that,” said Jalas before showing over 40 crates.

“I know most of you didn’t know that I sell eggs. If you need eggs, let me know; I’ll supply as many crates as you want.”

By SDE

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