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After failed bid to become a nun, now I rescue girls

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Growing up in Ndunyu Chege, Muranga County, Wangari  says she witnessed untold gender-based violence meted on women in her village. “What was happening in the village was like a competition to see man could beat their wives more severely; I remember one time when a man chopped his wife’s arm from the shoulder!” she says.

Wangari says such incidents made her hate the institution of marriage. In Class Six when a group of nuns visited her school to speak to students, she made up her mind to become one of them. This was a decision made to avoid the institution of marriage and the violence she had come to associate it with.

“When the nuns visited and told us about the vocation, I got a way out of what I thought was bad and I started wearing gowns synonymous with how nuns dress,” she recalls.

Her father, a teacher in a local school, supported her choice and changed how he looked at girls and their place in society. He encouraged Wangari to follow her heart. She would make the first false start into sisterhood when after her O-Level education at St Francis Girls School Mangu, she joined Little Sisters of the Poor, a religious community.

“The sisters run a home for the old people and this is where I was taken and I was given a job of looking after an 89-year-old man,” Wangari says. After a few days, she quit and joined Ursuline Sisters but, in her mind, it was still about escaping the institution of marriage. Her superiors realised this and gave her a two-month break to go and reflect on whether this was what she really wanted.

“Two senior sisters in the community sat me down and asked me if I had really made the right decision and I tried to convince them that indeed I had but they decided that I had to go and think over it before I could come back,” she says.

She never went back. On the same day she left, she went to live with a lady whose husband was a military officer to avoid going back home. While in the house, she recalls the husband meting out violence on his wife to the point of burning her with a hot iron despite the fact that she was pregnant. That very day, she left the house and went back home to her parents.

“I told them that I was no longer going to be a nun, so my dad took me to college where I studied for a diploma in marketing,” she says.

She got her first job, starting off as at the front office desk at the Kenya Accountants and Secretaries National Examinations Board (Kasneb), she would work at the institution for 14 years before she left and started a magazine focusing on gender-based violence.

The journey to saving girls from early marriages would start in earnest when she was called to the Nairobi Women’s Hospital’s Gender Recovery Centre to do a story about a 13-year-old girl who had been defiled by a teacher and gotten pregnant.

She recalls: “We were told that the teacher had bribed the girl’s father with Sh3,000 and I asked to be given the girl to care for after she had left hospital.” From this experience, Wangari says she realised she did not have to wait until girls got themselves into these sticky situations before they were rescued. She says prevention is better than cure.

The 52-year-old has since then been involved in gender-based violence recoveries through the organization, Woman’s Hope. She has been rescuing girls from early marriages and pregnancies and putting them back in school. Through the organisation, she has rescued more than 500 girls.

How does she do this?

Using local chiefs and the Nyumba Kumi committees, she gets to know vulnerable girls who she picks and takes through a programme at the centre she runs in Karen. Social workers also help in identifying these girls.

After rescuing the first girl, she started an initiative called ‘Sweat It out for a Needy Cause’ where the fitness enthusiast would, together with her friends, donate Sh500 whenever they ran. From the funds they collected, they bought hygiene effects for vulnerable girls.

“We realised that these vulnerable girls were prone to getting early pregnancies and (into) marriages because of promises for small things like sanitary towels; we then started training the girls we rescued at a house we had rented which could care for 30 girls before moving to the current bigger centre in Hardy, Karen,” says Wangari.

The girls are taken through a three-month training every year during school holidays in April, August and December, where they learn some basic skills. They meet counselors and mentors who speak to them. As part of the initiative, she came up with a ‘Dignity Pack’, which contains sanitary towels, panties, soap and petroleum jelly because in giving sanitary towels, some girls would come saying they have no panties which still exposes them to predators.  Wangari says that through the initiative, girls have learn skills while other have gone back to complete their formal education.

“When I get a girl who should be in school, I ensure that they first get back to school because I have experienced that in waiting we could lose the girl to early marriage of pregnancy,” she says.

Currently, the centre is making face masks for sale to as a means of sustaining the girls and some of the families they support. She has also roped in her zumba class to help in feeding the vulnerable, especially in Gataka, during these difficult times, which have left families struggling. When we caught up with her earlier this month, it was at an event at Tone La Maji Centre in Nakimurunya, Kajiado County, putting a smile on the faces of 33 boys.

By Standardmedia.co.ke

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Lifestyle

Veteran Vioja Mahakamani actor Mzee Makanyanga passes on

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Comedian Mohamed Tajiri popularly also known as Mzee Makanyanga has passed away at his Majengo, Pumwani home.

The news has been announced by Ken Waudo the chairman of Comedians In Kenya Society.

Comedian Mohamed Tajiri popularly also known as Mzee Makanyanga has passed away at his Majengo, Pumwani home.

The news has been announced by Ken Waudo the chairman of Comedians In Kenya Society.

He told Mpasho in a statement, “As #ComediansKE Society we would like to wish Mzee Makanyanga’s soul to rest in eternal peace. We celebrate him and his moments with us during his lifetime.”

He added,

“Arrangements are underway to inter his body tomorrow at 1pm at the Kariakor Muslim Cemetery.”

Mzee Makanyaga was born 1935 at Pangani, Nairobi was a veteran actor and comedian having acted in KBC/VOK programmes such as Zuberi, Chipukizi, Darubini, Vioja Mahakamani and Vitimbi.

He was 85 years old.

by Mpasho.co.ke

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Woman who lived with boyfriend’s body for three days arrested

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The police on Tuesday arrested a woman in connection with the death of a Pwani University student in Uasin Gishu County.

The 26-year-old woman identified by police as Jane Wairimu is suspected to have killed David Wairire, 23, in Kipkenyo, Kapseret Constituency on Saturday night.

Police officers say the suspect then stayed with the lifeless body of the man until Tuesday 26 October when neighbours discovered the student had died.

Residents said the duo have been living as a couple for nearly six months.

Body discovered in the house couple shared

Wairimu startled neighbours after she claimed that thugs attacked her and Wairire on Saturday night, but the matter was not reported until Tuesday when the university student’s body was discovered in the same house the couple have been living in.

According to the suspect, Wairire lost consciousness after the alleged Saturday night attack at a nearby Kipkaren Trading Centre.

Her explanation regarding the circumstances of her boyfriend’s death and why she did not report the attack since Saturday night is what raised eyebrows. Neighbours have accused her of killing the university student.

Body found with stab wounds

Wairire’s body had its hands tied, a stab wound in the stomach and a bruise on the face. The police suspect it to be a case of murder.

The house is part of rental houses he inherited from his late father, and he has been collecting rent, tenants said.

His uncle Moffat Muriuki said Wairire was the only child of his late parents and has been managing the estate his father left behind.

Mr Muriuki said the late Wairire had been living with the suspect for the last five months and the two had not been quarrelling.

“I last met him on Thursday last week, and we have not talked since then. I was planning to attend a burial in the neighbourhood when I was called by Wairire’s neighbour that my nephew was dead,” Muriuki said.

He added: “I don’t know much about the character of the young woman he has been living in his late father’s rental property but neighbours say they have been living peacefully.”

He wondered why the woman failed to report the death and stayed with the corpse for four days.

Missing since Saturday

James Lugano, a next-door neighbour, said he also became suspicious after he failed to see Wairire for several days.

“I met his girlfriend in the morning and I asked her how Wairire was doing, and she told me that they were attacked on Saturday evening and that he has been unconscious since then. I was shocked and asked to see him. Upon entering the house, I found him lying lifeless covered with a blanket from the chest down,” Lugano narrated.

He continued: “I doubted whether he was alive and I moved out and luckily some traffic police officers on patrol were driving near the house. I requested for help and immediately they entered the house, and they told me that my neighbour was already dead.”

Uasin Gishu County Police Commander Ali Gitonga said both Wairimu and the deceased had bruises on the bodies, an indication that the couple may have fought.

Mr Gitonga said the suspect is being held at the Langas Police Station for interrogation.

“We suspect that the young man died two days before the body was discovered.

Investigations are ongoing and the body has been taken to the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital for autopsy,” the police boss said.

by Standard.co.ke

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MP Millie Odhiambo denies shouting down DP Ruto

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Suba North MP Millie Odhiambo (pictured), has denied shouting down Deputy President William Ruto at Bomas of Kenya yesterday at the Bomas of Kenya. Odhiambo says she was only answering questions posed by the DP in his BBI address.

The outspoken legislator says she did not have a microphone to enable her respond to DP Ruto’s submissions against the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report.

“I was answering his questions because he was asking us questions about what should be done, and I was basically reminding him he is the deputy president and I should be asking him the questions he was asking and not vice versa,” the MP said in an exclusive interview with KTN News.

Odhiambo concurred with DP Ruto’s thinking when she acknowledged that there may be areas that need strengthening in the report even if it promises more gains to the Kenyan people.

 “There are some issues that will be addressed through the constitutional review and some through legislative action,” she told KTN News.

Suba North MP Millie Odhiambo during the launch of the Building Bridges to a United Kenya Taskforce Report at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

During the launch at the Bomas of Kenya, DP Ruto made several submissions on areas to be reviewed in the BBI report.

In his speech, he said the real elephant in the room was the post-poll winner-takes-it-all mentality which the BBI was trying to address by creating the position of a Prime Minister and two deputies.

He wondered how that would take care of other big political heavyweights who would still find themselves without political offices.

Midway his speech, the DP had to pause as sections of the crowd jeered at him while shouting “Respect the President.”

According to Odhiambo, the DP was talking of a coalition government something that the BBI report is not addressing.

“BBI is talking about inclusion [and] we are saying that in a case where you win as a president, then you need to expand the framework of regions that are represented in the executive,” she said.

The MP rubbished reports that DP Ruto allies never received invites for the Bomas of Kenya conference.

Odhiambo said most of the Tangatanga allied MPs chose not to show up despite being invited to the forum that was to be used to air issues in the report.

However, Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwah, a DP Ruto ally, says the process was surrounded with hypocrisy.

He echoed Ruto’s remarks that the report did not touch on issues affecting Kenyans such as unemployment of the youth, saying this ought to constitute the national dialogue.

“The only two people who captured imaginations of Kenyans were DP Ruto and former vice president Musalia Mudavadi,” he said, adding that, “those are the only people who were bold enough to articulate the real issues affecting Kenyans.”

Despite being heckled Ruto made his remarks insisting we needed to have a candid discussion before the report is embraced.

by standardmedia.co.ke

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