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Life in the skies: I globetrot for a living

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Mariam Ali is living her dream. Imagine working at 37,000ft in a jet cruising at 900Km/h, mingling with all kinds of people? A dream job, right? Well, this is what Mariam does for a living. Her journey began at Fly Dubai as a member of the cabin crew, before joining Emirates in 2015 as the airline’s business class hostess.

So, what does the job of a global airline’s cabin crew entail? And what is it like to globetrot to and from work?

‘‘My main job is to ensure the passengers aboard are comfortable and safe. It’s also my responsibility to ensure passengers have the best experience during the journey by attending to all their needs,” she says.

‘‘Some journeys, such as Dubai to New York, are very long, sometimes lasting more than 10 hours. This can get boring and exhausting, so it’s important to ensure passengers are happy and relaxed.”

This job has offered her travel opportunities to places she had never dreamt of going to before.

‘‘Every journey is an opportunity to experience new cultures and to interact with people from diverse backgrounds,” she says.

‘‘It is always a delight to discover new cities and revisit those that I have been to before.”

Multi-racial interactions begin long before Mariam’s plane starts taxiing on the runway, thanks to Emirates’ 20,000 flight attendants who are drawn from 150 countries.

India is Mariam’s favourite destination, owing to the sub-continent’s diverse cultures, sub-cultures, languages and dialects.

What are the key selling points for this career and why would a young person be interested?

‘‘First, if you do it for a long time, flying can become a lifestyle. Most air hostesses are offered the best accommodation, travel allowances and per diems,” she says, adding that this is the best job for those who are outgoing and adventurous in nature.

‘‘You always get to meet and interact with team members whom you have never flown with before, which is very exciting.”

But even though they might not always know each other before every flight, the team always has a common goal: To fly passengers to their destinations within a safe and exciting environment.

Major airlines also offer extensive training in the industry to boost their employees’ career development.’’

Additionally, flight attendants have a clearly defined career growth pattern.

“Beginners start at the economy class level before progressing to business class. You are then elevated to first class and later cabin supervisor and service trainer, depending on your interests. All these come with attractive perks,” she says.

The selection process in major airlines is, however, a highly competitive and rigorous exercise.

“Candidates who meet the basic requirements of personal presentation and etiquette are handpicked from dozens of applicants, after which they are interviewed on various aspects of the business,” says Mariam, who is also a a fitness coach and a gym trainer.

Once selected, the team is taken through an intensive training that covers the aspects of safety and security, customer service, grooming and general medical training.

“This is particularly necessary because it enables us to know how to handle medical emergencies on board whenever they occur.

“Unlike some careers, where you must have qualifications in that particular area, most airlines admit professionals from different academic backgrounds, with only basic training required.”

Mariam studied food and nutrition at the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) in London, and also holds a higher national diploma in aviation management.

After employment, a candidate can further their studies and specialise in different areas. The downside of her job, she says, is jetlag.

“You fly through different time zones every day. When you leave Dubai for Chicago, for instance, you depart in the morning and arrive there while it’s still in the morning. This throwback upsets the body, and you have to adjust accordingly so that you can sleep.”

Mariam notes that getting used to jetlag takes time, and that the body naturally adjusts to cope favourably with the long flights.

‘‘When I arrive in Chicago in the morning, I usually go sightseeing and shopping in the city, then retire to bed at night. This allows me to sleep well. On average, we spend 50 hours in the city, and by the time we’re flying back, my body has relaxed adequately.”

Eating healthy foods and maintaining an active lifestyle is highly recommended for this kind of a job.

‘‘We’re encouraged to engage in sports, go to the gym, do yoga or meditation so we keep our bodies and spirit active,’’ she says.

A strong personality, a pleasant demeanour and positive attitude are crucial in this industry.

Mariam travels to seven or eight destinations in a week, and gets 10 to 12 days of rest every month. With such a compact schedule, meeting her family is not always possible, but her employer offers her a very decent incentive.

“The airline provides a concessional ticket for every crew’s family, which allows us to travel together with loved ones. Whenever I travel, I purchase tickets at discounted prices, or use the free tickets that the airline provides.”

Installation of WiFi on planes is one of the trends which is expected to enhance the flying experience for customers.

“It’s now possible to connect with your loved ones and go about your life from altitudes of 35,000 feet.”

But misconceptions about the career abound too. People assume that members of cabin crew are poor at maintaining lasting relationships because they are always travelling. This is false,” she observes.

Mariam is an avid reader too, with a particular bias for fiction.

“I like reading crime thrillers by John Grisham. I also love history. My most recent read is a book called Sapiens by Yuval Harari, which is a history of evolution of humankind until the 21st century.”

An ardent hiker, Mariam has climbed Mt Kilimanjaro, Elbrus in Russia, Stok Kangri in northern India and Everest Base Camp in Nepal.

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Business

PHOTO: Ken Mijungu unveils own startup company days after being fired from NTV

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Days after being axed from NTV, journalist Ken Mijungu has revealed his next move.

Mijungu took to his social media pages on Monday, July 6, where he announced he was diving into the legal field.

Ken Mijungu unveils own startup company days after being fired from NTVKen Mijungu has announced his next move days after he was axed from TV job. Photo/Source: Ken Mijungu.
Source: Instagram

Posting on his Instagram account, Mijungu, a trained lawyer, shared a photo of his new business with his name boldly encrypted on the wall.

From the photo, it was clear that the former TV journalist was shifting his focus from media to focus on legal consultancy.

View this post on Instagram

Believers will always be believers Mathew 6: 26-34

A post shared by Ken Mijungu (@kenmijungu) on

According to the photo, the former anchor’s firm will be offering legal consultancy on immigration, finance, property, imports and exports.

To affirm that his achievement was a matter of faith, Mijungu captioned the post with a Bible verse.

“Believers will always be believers Mathew 6: 26-34,” he wrote.

Mijungu who many considered as bold and intelligent was among those who were shown the door at Nation Media Group on Friday, July 3.

He shared the news of his firing through a touching Twitter post that saw most of his fans take to the comment section to encourage and console him.

According to his post, the journalist said he was given his termination letter after working for NMG for seven years.

He thanked the station for the opportunity and thanked God for always been there for him.

The NMG firing came a couple of weeks after Mediamax laid off over 100 workers via text messages.

By Tuko.co.ke

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Kenyan business community lauds President Kenyatta for lifting the lockdown

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BY OLIVIA MUNGWANA

The government has lifted the lockdown imposed earlier on major cities following the eruption of the Covid 19 pandemic. The announcement by President Uhuru Kenyatta on 6th July 2020 came just three days after Optiven Group CEO George Wachiuri called on the government to lift the lockdown. Wachiuri who was speaking in Kiambu County said this was imperative if the economy was to grow.

He added that, “while we support every effort to keep our people in good health, we have seen a large number sinking in to depression for lack of jobs and basic needs. The number of families seeking intervention for daily upkeep through the Optiven Foundation has grown tremendously in the last three months.

Wachiuri who is the chairman of the Optiven Foundation was referring to beneficiaries of the Spreading Hope campaign that was launched at the onset of the eruption of Covid 19. To date the Optiven Foundation has supported over 200 families under the campaign with beneficiaries domiciled in Kajiado, Machakos, Nairobi and Nyeri among others.

The eruption of Covid 19 pandemic has contributed to a rundown of the economy, affecting majority of sectors including health, manufacturing, education and many others.

With the pandemic came rising cases of infection and other unforeseen challenges that saw the government seeking partnership with stakeholders to mitigate the situation. Optiven Limited was among the first respondents with the company donating a quarter of a million to the national kitty. Wachiuri says, “as an investor in business in Kenya, Optiven felt this was our call to make a difference.

We believe in what the taskforce is doing to better the situation”. Through the award winning Foundation, the company has in 2020 continued to offer psycho-social support while adhering to the Ministry of Health and World Health Organization recommendations on engagement.

5 Key Facts On the Lifting of the Lockdown

  1. Cessation of movement in Nairobi, Mombasa and Mandera lapses on 7th July 2020
  2. Curfew extended for 30 days
  3. Government to revert to lockdown if situation deteriorates or Covid 19 cases surge
  4. Vehicles traveling to and from areas that were previously restricted to be certified by the Ministry of Health
  5. On air travel, local travel to resume on 15th June 2020 while international travel to resume on 1st August 2020

Quote: “I urge all Kenyans to take personal responsibility and avoid unnecessary contact”.
Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya
6/7/2020

Thoughts by

George Wachiuri: A Leading Entrepreneur, a Published Author, Philanthropist, Youth Empowerment Enthusiast, a Family man and CEO of Optiven Group

Contact Optiven Group: 0790 300 300
Email: admin@optiven.co.ke
Website: https://www.optiven.co.ke

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When the deal is just too good … How Urithi members paid millions for air

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Urithi, a housing co-operative that has marketed itself as the best bet for those who cannot afford mortgages, has sold air to unsuspecting Kenyans, killing their dreams of becoming homeowners.

In yet another property scandal, more than 32,000 members of the co-operative are counting their losses.

Those who had taken bank loans to finance their purchases are dealing with double losses, given that they have nothing to show for the money.The losses run into billions of shillings, Urithi having run out of lies to feed its investors.

Some have waited for more than eight years, and are coming to terms with the fact that they have lost their investment.

Its directors, who live large and drive posh cars, ride roughshod over investors and have no time even for direct media inquiries, preferring to use police to silence protesters rather than face their customers and offer solutions.

Urithi chairman, Samuel Maina, in the most recent status update, dated June 2, said the co-operative had profiled every project to give clear timelines and deliverables.

“Over 30 land projects are in good progress and their title deeds shall be delivered in a few months. We have set up a robust communication desk to contact each of the members based on their obligations or payment status,” he said.

Mr Maina said those who understand the Urithi socio-economic model, understand that “each project is independently based on its timelines, region or structure”.

“Each should be addressed as such, without mixing issues,” he added.

Urithi is accused of collecting money from members to buy land, which it used as collateral for loans. Some of the land is now facing auction.

Potential investors were drawn to the projects by enticing adverts, well-planned trips to view the land, with mega ground breaking ceremonies and artistic impressions of what their future homes would look like.

Some were taken to Malindi more than fives years ago, accommodated in a posh hotel and then driven 20 kilometres to be shown the land that they were buying.

Urithi then asked for fencing and title processing money, but after being paid, the sales agents dis-appeared and blocked customers’ calls.

The promise was that they would own the homes within a relatively short time and the payment schedules only sweetened the deal.So they trooped in their thou-sands to join the co-operative. Now they are in tears as they realise that they were duped into buying air. Most agents who sold properties on behalf of the co-operative have also vanished.

The clients are now lining up at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to lodge complaints. For more than two weeks, the Nation has tried to get the company and its agents to talk. Last Friday, Chairman Maina did not pick our calls.

1qBut he sent a text message: “Hello, thanks for inquiring. I will call you once I am free to talk.” He has not communicated.

We asked him what had led to the flood of complaints from distressed members, and what had caused the latest problems.

Simon Gathai

When Mr Simon Gathai invested Sh1.95 million on land within the Nairobi metropolitan, he knew that was what he wanted.

Even though it was covered with coffee bushes, the sales talk that accompanied the artistic impressions of what the estate would look like when completed were enough to convince him to buy it.

“I was told that roads would be constructed, a perimeter wall and common areas for residents,” he told the Nation. He took a bank loan to pay the entire Sh1.95 million for an eighth of an acre plot at Ruiru Ridges in April, 2018.

After paying, Mr Gathai knew it was just a matter of time before he would have land to build his home.

“But ever since, we are still waiting for our titles. They have just been telling us to wait. The whole project seems to be a sham,” offers a disappointed Mr Gathai.

“I have tried approaching the management to be shown my plot so that I can uproot the coffee bushes and develop it but I have not been successful,” he adds.He says the co-operative has been reluctant to call status meetings, fearing members will know each other and mobilise themselves, which would work against its interests.

Meanwhile, Mr Gathai continues to service the loan he took to pay for the land, which pains him.

Benear Shapaya

In 2016, Mr Benear Shapaya attended a ground-breaking ceremony for the co-operative’s housing projects. He was trying to weigh his options on where to invest, especially in property.After the sumptuous meal and flowery speeches on how the co-operative would walk with members to see them own their own homes, Mr Shapaya decided to invest in one of their projects.

In August that year, he secured a Sh1 million bank loan, which he used to book a two-bedroom unit in Joska-OTG Phase 2.

The property’s full cost was Sh1.6 million.He was promised that the project would be completed in two years, and so he proceeded to pay monthly instalments. However, as months turned into years, there was nothing to show for his money.“I don’t even know where the property I bought is. I have tried finding out from Urithi offices but nobody seems to know. It seems I paid money for a project that does not exist,” he says.

When he saw things were not turning out as he expected, in May last year, he wrote to the co-operative, saying he wanted to withdraw his membership and seek reimbursement of the money he paid.

“That was after I made my last payment and went on the ground, only to find there was nothing to show for the money I had paid. I realised we had been duped,” he told the Nation.

He had invested Sh1.4 million and had completed servicing the Sh1 million loan.

‘They do not seem to be interested in finishing the project. Whenever they say they are doing something, it’s just some cosmetic kind of thing,” he says.He now wants his money re-funded after realising it was not a genuine deal. Jane Maina

What motivated Jane Maina to join Urithi was the desire to own a home, and the fact that she worked in Mombasa and did not have the time to supervise the construction of a house.

She considered buying a housing the easier option. In 2016, she joined the co-operative’s OTG-Joska and Juja-Gem projects, where she thought she hoped to own three houses. By the end of 2017, she had completed payments for the OTG project, which cost Sh1.6 million.

During the Annual General Meeting AGM in 2018, Ms Maina says, Urithi Chairman Maina promised members of the project that all the units would be completed by November that year and their houses would be handed to them. That has not happened to date.Ms Main has paid Urithi Sh4.37 million.

She regrets having sold a plot on Thika Road to invest in the project.

Susan Nyaga

Before Susan Nyaga’s husband died, they decided to acquire a house to avoid paying rent.

And she came across the Urithi adverts in late 2016. Since her husband was working in Somalia, she secured a Sh1 million bank loan for the down payment.

She would pay the remaining Sh600,000 in instalments.

Unfortunately, she lost her husband in January 2017 when she was still struggling to settle the balance, as well as service the loan.

“At the time, I was under a lot of stress, having lost my husband. But the co-operative kept asking me to complete my payments while the bank was pushing me to service their loan,” she says.

So she took another bank loan to repay the first one and pay Urithi what she still owed. All the while the co-op promises that the houses would be handed over to the owners by March 2017. But March came and went, without any communication from Urithi.

In April, she visited the site and found out what was happening. It was then that she realised, to her shock, that the house she had been told was almost complete did not even exist.

Meanwhile, the bank from which she had taken the second loan was on her neck. She sold a car and a plot to repay the bank.

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