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Phyllis Omido: The woman who won Sh1.2b fighting lead

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When, in 2009, Kenyan environmental activist Phyllis Omido explained to her employer that their business of battery recycling could “end up killing” the people living near the plant, she was asked never to talk about it again.

This was the first of many times she was told to be quiet, but she did not do as she was told.

At 31, the business management graduate had just joined Kenya Metal Refineries, a firm in the coastal city of Mombasa, which was recycling car batteries to extract the lead.

She had been asked to commission an environmental impact assessment, but when she presented the expert’s report, the company directors did not act on its findings.

The battery melting process emitted both toxic fumes and a discharge that seeped into the neighbouring densely populated Owino Uhuru community. It affected both the air and the water, causing illnesses the residents could not understand.

A mystery illness

It also had an impact on the employees. But at that point in 2009, Omido did not know the extent of the problems – or the level of damage to the environment.

From childhood, she had always loved nature and had wanted to study something to do with the environment at university.

But her guardians in Mombasa—where she had moved after the death of her mother 15 years earlier in western Kenya urged her to take a course that would enable her to get an office job.

The problem was that the office job she had taken was with a company that did not seem to care for what she loved.

Despite concerns, Ms Omido continued working for the company and in 2010, her two-year-old son fell ill. He underwent treatments and tests, but he did not get better and the problem could not be identified.

Things got so bad that he was admitted to hospital and it was then that a friend suggested that the child should be tested for lead poisoning.

It turned out he had dangerously high levels of lead in his blood.

The discovery that her son had lead poisoning—perhaps ingested from breastmilk shocked her.

Omido was angry. She quit her job, while pushing for the company to pay for her son’s treatment.

She also had tests done on three other children from the community. Her fears were confirmed.

‘You’re making it up’

Armed with the test results, Omido started writing to government agencies seeking action to stop the pollution. They ignored her, she says.

“The National Environmental Management Authority (Nema), in fact wrote back to me and said what I was saying was fictitious and they were ready to defend it in a court of law”, she told the BBC.

Nema had been partly responsible for licensing the factory in the first place.

She wanted to prove that it was no fiction so with funding from an environmental organisation, she organised for more lead poisoning tests to be done.

Omido then felt she had the evidence, but her determination to make her case led to frequent run-ins with the authorities.

“I just took it a day at a time. We were just depending on goodwill. When I was arrested for instance, I didn’t even have money for bail. And I had 17 people to bail out,” she says.

She was detained for one night in 2012 and charged with inciting violence after organising a march in Mombasa.

Two legal charities, Front Line Defenders and the East African Law Society, helped with the money and defence. The campaigners were acquitted because of a lack of evidence.

Omido considers the years before 2014 as “a very difficult time” when she almost gave up the fight.

She was often scared because of being harassed by the authorities. An attack by

unidentified armed men just outside her home terrified her so much that she went into hiding for months.

“I only survived because my neighbour arrived at that time. His car lights shone on the place where I had been hit and had fallen on the ground, and my son was screaming,” she says.

Beaten up

At one point, members of Omido’s family were also unhappy. They argued that she was not being fair to her son, who saw her being mistreated by the authorities.

But the campaigner says she felt indebted to the community because “there were so many people who believed in me and paid a very high price for that”.

She remembers one “heart-breaking” incident in 2011 when the police arrived and fired tear gas after a community meeting.

“They then ransacked people’s houses on the pretext of looking for illegal substances,” she says.

“These are poor people who earn so little. I wish they would have arrested me instead,” she adds.

Despite the setbacks, Omido fought for more than 10 years to get the case to court and get a decision to go the community’s way.

The $12 million award is supposed to be paid jointly by the government agencies that were found to have been negligent as well as the directors of the company, which shut down in 2014.

The judge also ordered the government to clean Owino Uhuru within four months, saying failure to act would result in a fine.

Omido says that “money cannot even compensate” for what the 3,000-strong community has been through. Nevertheless, the funds can be used for treatment and medication.

But this may not be the end of the journey as she does not believe the money will be immediately forthcoming as the government has a poor record of paying compensation ordered by the courts.

It has until the middle of September to pay up. If it fails, then Omido will not keep quiet.

However, the most important thing now is to test all the children and ensure that those affected have access to medication all of them on medication and to clean the environment so the community can live in a place that is safe for then.

-BBC

 

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Lifestyle

Woman surprisingly receives cash after praying to God for help

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A woman identified as Maine21089868 recently shared some pretty good news on Twitter.

According to the young woman, she had received KSh 4,000 from a stranger after she had prayed to God for some help with money since she was broke.

“So yesterday I prayed to God asking for money because I am so broke, after an hour someone sent KSh 4,000 in my account written ‘TASK’, up to now I do not know who sent it,” wrote the lady.

According to the lady, she did not ask anyone for money and is convinced that miracles do exist.

“I did not ask anyone for money. Miracles still exist. Thank you, Jesu. #Level1Lockdown #HambaMzimbaSalaNtliziyo” she wrote.

In her post, she also included a screenshot of the funds that were miraculously deposited into her account only an hour after she asked God for it.

Twitter users shared mixed reactions to her post, wondering how they could achieve similar luck or “blessings”.

@ZAMONEYM9 said:

“I am praying for a share in your KSh 4,000.”

@2liKhumalo said:

“What are the exact words you used in your prayer?”

@BrianVukile joked:

“These miracles only happen to females.”

By Tuko.co.ke

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Entertainment

Mother-in-law actor Mustafa, wife announce pregnancy in adorable photo

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Talented Mother-in-law actor Dru Muthure alias Mustafa and his wife cannot wait to welcome a new member into their small family.

Mustafa announced that they are expecting through his various social media pages.

Mustafa who also doubles up as a Hot96 FM presenter shared a photo of his wife rocking a huge baby bump.

The excited man could not hide the joy and captioned the photo saying:

“My heartbeat in one picture.”

Mother-in-law actor Mustafa, wife announce pregnancy in adorable photo

Mother-in-law actor Mustafa and his wife are expecting their first child. Photo: Dru Muthure.
Source: UGC

Kneeling, Mustafa adorably held the baby bump with a wide smile spread on his face.

His wife on the other hand appeared overwhelmed. It appeared as if the two were feeling the baby kick.

Congratulatory messages

Following the announcement, the thespian’s friends flocked the comment section to show their love for the couple.

Many congratulated them for their blessings while others welcomed him to parenthood.

An Instagram user identified as Lydiah Gitachu wrote:

“Awesomeness, congratulations!”

A fan by the name Nelly_munga commented:

“Congratulations to You.”

Owens_wanjiru commented:

“Congratulations! Love just got real! So very excited for you.”

A few months ago, Mustafa celebrated his birthday in hospital despite thinking his big day would be filled with boredom and sadness.

Despite his condition, the people who love him showed up to cheer him up so he could experience some kindness and joy on his big day.

His friends and family arranged a surprise party and visited the actor with goodies and a cake.

The thespian who turned 41 was surrounded by love, cake, laughter, good times and a lifetime’s worth of memories.

By Tuko.co.ke

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Lifestyle

Lawyer Donald Kipkorir sees off daughter as she goes back to school in London

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Popular city lawyer Donald Kipkorir is not only an accomplished affluent advocate but a proud dad who has never shied from showing off his beautiful daughters.

The lawyer is known to have heavily invested in his children’s education which he showed while sending one of his daughters for studies oversees.

As schools slowly re-open in England months after they were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the lawyer had to send his elder daughter back as shared on his Facebook page.

Well, the lawyer did not just take her to the airport and saw her off. No! he had a dad-daughter moment and did what any parent would have done – prayed for her safety.

“Seeing off my beloved daughter returning to school in England…so proud of her…May the Lord bless thee, and keep thee,” he wrote.

Lawyer Donald Kipkorir sees off daughter as she goes back to school in London

Donald Kipkorir is not only an accomplished but also affluent advocate. Photo: Donald Kipkorir.
Source: Facebook

“The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace!” he added.

Unlike her initial trip, she wore a white pair of pants, a white top, covered up with a black half jacket and appeared not to be ready for a photo as she faced away from the camera.

The girl, who is a mirror image of her father, had initially posed for a similar photo at the international airport in January 2020 when she was leaving for school.

Kipkorir is one of Kenya’s most elite and successful lawyers as his law firm (KTK Advocates) has represented a vast number of clients.

The flamboyant lawyer previously revealed his secrets to success through social media post titled Jabez Prayer: My Life is Abundantly Blessed.

He revealed how he was brought up in a poor family that he actually wore shoes for the first time when he joined secondary school.

He added that he once worked for Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula in the 90s and ended up setting his own law firm.

According to the religious advocate, his clients are State corporations, banks, insurance companies, energy companies, universities, high net-worth individuals and ministers.

In his entire life, he said, he has never been a broker, never taken money other than legal fees that are receipted, has no bank loan, debts and pays his taxes.

By Tuko.co.ke

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