Kilifi Archives - CREAWKENYA

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January 31, 2020by CREAW

In Kilifi County, pregnancy remains a key barrier to girls’ education. In 2018 alone, over 17000 girls fell pregnant – some of the cases are attributed to wayward bodaboda riders who lure young girls with gifts and impregnate them; some girls also fall pregnant after being molested by those they trust most: relatives teachers and clergymen.

When we meet 16 year old *Riziki at her maternal grandparents home, she is cuddling her two year old son- a product of an affair she had with the bodaboda rider. Then, she was in Form two.

“I met him on my way to school and he offered to transport me,” she says. What followed were everyday rides that transitioned into sexual encounters.

“He promised to take care of me but denied being the father of my baby when I informed him I was pregnant,” says Riziki

Like many other girls in Kilifi, Riziki forms part of the statistics of girls whose dream to ascend higher in education and make their future a reality is cut shot by pregnancy emanating from wayward bodaboda riders.

In the wake of this, CREAW through the Haki Yetu Jukumu Letu initiative with the Embassy of Netherlands in Kenya incorporated the Bodaboda riders in the community outreaches where they learn how to ensure that children are safe and well protected from sexual violence and other ills in their communities.

PHOTO/CREAW

Daniel Tinga is the chairperson of Bodaboda riders in Kaloleni Sub County. He tells us that through the community outreaches he has learnt the dangers that sexual violence pose on the lives of young girls. From the lessons, he teaches his fellow riders to uphold respect and dignity of the women and girls they come into contact with.

“As a bodaboda rider I have the responsibility to ensure my customers whether young or old, arrive to their destination safely,” says Tinga.

In Ganze, Tinga’s counterparts are also organizing around the issue of defilement that has labeled them as perpetrators. In them is a resolve defy the ‘normal’ – they are building agency and using their voices to champion for good.

“ As a father I want, other girls in my community to grow well and complete their education just as my daughters. I want girls to fly high and build our village to greater heights,” says Shadrack Kazungu, a bodaboda rider at Matano Manne, Ganze Sub County.

He explains to us that after attending various community dialogues by CREAW his outlook on violence against women and girls has changed.

PHOTO/CREAW

“I learnt that cat calling and groping violates the rights of girls. Before I was never attentive to such matters because in my industry, they are ‘normal.’ I am glad there is a shift, the conversations have helped us build consensus amongst us,” he says while noting that, in their Association they are on the look out for individuals who goes against the ethics and conduct they have set as such, they are excommunicated and matters referred to the police.

At Kibaoni, the Bodaboda riders’ voices are even getting more louder in their day to day work. In their numbers, they want Kibaoni Bodaboda Association to be known for good. With their collective voices, they are certain that their community can only getter better.

“We have a good relationship with village elders and Chiefs within Kibaoni who help us in tackling gender violence matters even among our circles,” says Sudi Zalikini.

Writing by Christine Ogutu

 



January 30, 2019by admin0

A 30 kilometers journey from Kilifi town leads us to Chasimba in Chonyi, one of the six Sub-Counties haboured within the oceanic County of Kilifi. It is about midday and the sun is warming up to usher us into a rather cool and conversational afternoon.
Over the roads, the greenery sight of maize plantations and the swaying palm trees that invokes the serendipity of freshness and harmony welcomes us to a village that has long reconciled with a past filled with crime.
Incidences of GBV
It is here that wails of children and women enveloped the villages over the years and as Merceline Akinyi puts it; “not a day, not a week went by without the wails of children robbed off their innocence being heard in the nearby thickets.”

Mercyann Akinyi (center) during the skills assement workshop in Kilifi. PHOTO: CREAW

As a well known anti-GBV crusader in her village, Akinyi recounts the many nights women spent over at her home as they escaped from violent spouses. She tells the tale of the many cases of gender based violence (GBV) perpetrated by bodaboda riders yet the area lacked a fully functional police post to lock up perpetrators or safe shelters for survivors.
Today, hope is brought alive as the community gears to the opening of a newly established Chasimba police station; a first of the first since time immemorial. This has brought with itself a sense of safety and security among communities in the surrounding areas.
“The nearest police station we have ever had is located in Kilifi town; 25kms away. We had to travel miles away to report crime,” she says, adding “follow-up of cases becomes challenging with a transportation cost of Sh800 each day and most cases ends up being thrown out of court.”
It is a tale that Inspector Paul Achebi based Bando Salama DCC’s office in Chonyi knows to well. He grins as he narrates to us how Chasimba Police; located three kilometers away from where he sits has eased his work.
“Currently we do not have vehicles to transport suspects to Kijipwa where we have holding cells or to court. Most of the time we use bodabodas and run the risk of suspects escaping,” narrates Inspector Achebi.
Achebi tells us that he has had incidences where he uses his own car to support survivors to follow-up on their cases in court but he is happy that the Chasimba Police station will have all the infrastructure and resources needed to improve police response to criminal activities in the area.
And so what did it take to get the police station?
Mwanajuma Kusa has lived in Chonyi since birth, she has lived through the insecurity and seen it all; how the bodaboda riders would slash to death residents, the cold bloodbaths by organized criminals like the outlawed Mombasa Republican Council (MRC)- calling for a responsive government to the needs of Coastal communities.
And the cases that add more salt to what Mwanajuma terms as the “evil that resides within the community” is the scourge of gender based violence that has left many homes broken, children left without mothers and fathers and many teenage girls defiled and impregnated by people well known to them: brothers, uncles, fathers and neighbours.
“We have a culture of ‘disco matanga’ that exposes girls to teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Despite the government outlawing such, the practice still persists in the community,” she says
Mwanajuma’s concern was to have a safer community for the many women and girls whose interest resides in her heart. As a member of Sauti Ya Wanawake, Chonyi Chapter, she gathered all the women to discus the issue of a police post being established a stone throw away from the villages.
“To gunner support, we first conversed with community members including the Kaya Elders. Together we agreed that we would approach the area Member of Parliament (MP),” recalls Mwanajuma.
She pauses and shifts to how it was challenging for them to stand before the Kaya Elders, knowing what the “traditions postulates”- voices of women are never taken into account. She says they stood firm and explained why it was time that the community got a fully-fledged police station. They needed to be heard not as “women” but as a community. It was a sigh of relief; their voices were heard and now they had a unity of purpose.
In the turns and sometimes postponement of meetings among the community and authorities, patience carried them through. “We knew even if it took years and ages, our call will be heeded,” she says.
In 2015, the MP would finally call for a meeting that included all the structures in the communities including the grassroots women leaders who have been at the forefront in the campaign. A committee was formed to fast-track the construction of the police post. Fast forward, in 2018 the dream of the community was born alive. Chasimba Police Station stands strong, tall and ready to kick.
Addressing GBV
Inspector Achebi who has walked the journey with the women groups in the advocacies explains that he is happy with the network that the likes of Mwanajuma and Merceline have created.
He says, such network has helped in raising awareness on critical issues in the community. It is such that has helped changed the perceptions on issues of GBV and accorded women the strong voices to participate in spaces that were regarded as “male only.”
“In all honesty, it takes the community to create safe spaces for their coexistence. As a law enforcer, I have learnt that we should always create an understanding with each and every member of the community. I attend Chief barazas to listen to community concern and address their issues,” explains Achebi who is also the Chonyi Sub-County Commander.



January 25, 2019by admin0

Beatrice Charo confidently walks as she approaches us, with a fruity voice and a smile that paints a ray of sunshine allover her face, she greets us and ushers us in towards her living room. Here, she speaks passionately about the community she had called home for decades. It is here in the coastline town of Malindi that she had started her teaching career.

Beatrice Charo. PHOTO: CREAW

With the beautiful beaches that stretch across the horizons of the dark blue waves ocean; a picture is painted of a land at peace with itself yet down the sandy beaches, the cries of young girls making life in the twilight becomes just a whisper, and as Charo puts it, many girls are forced to drop out of school as a result of child exploitation that exposes them to sexual violence, early and forced marriages and child pregnancies.
“Often girls are forced into marital roles when their families betroth them as a trade off to ease poverty. These girls are forced to abandon their education and instead transition to fulfill the duties of wife and mothers,” she explains, noting that this limits girls’ ability to earn income and build sustainable earnings that will lift their families out of poverty and so the cycle of destitution in the family chain becomes limitless.
She says these limitless challenges that the girls face in the community also mirrors in their school performance vis-a-vis boys. Therefore, it is imperative that these learning environments must always be safe and gender inclusive to nurture a sense of responsibility and respect among boys and girls.
At Kibokoni Primary School where she teaches, she has made it her personal cause to ensure that girls are retained in school and that they enjoy safer learning environment free from any exploitation. She credits it to the knowledge that she acquired from several training sessions organized by CREAW for teachers in Kilifi County. In the trainings, teachers are trained on the aspects of gender-based violence (GBV), positive ways to discipline children and the rights and responsibilities pertaining to child protection.
“Every Wednesday, we have a forum where we sit with the girls to listen to the challenges they experience in and around school. This encourages them to speak up to avert severity of psychosocial issues and build on their self confidence,” she says.
Charo however is not alone in the anti-GBV war in schools; Getrude Karisa a teacher at the nearby Upewoni Primary School is elated that by virtue of being teachers, they have the opportunity and responsibility to nurture the voices of school going children under their care to be able to speak out on GBV. Both Charo and Karisa are members of the Beacon Teacher Movement.
The Beacon Teacher Movement is an initiative of the Teachers Service Commission that was initiated to give teachers the opportunity to promote child protection in their schools and communities. The teachers are trained to create awareness of child rights and responsibilities among learners and what to do when they are abused.
Karisa’s major concern is the numerous night Disco matangas- night vigil dances around Malindi attended by men, women and children to dance the night away in celebration of the deceased. Beneath the celebrations, men prey on young girls.
Kilifi has been cited as one of the counties with high prevalence of teenage pregnancies conceived mostly at the local disco matangas. According to the Ministry of Health (MOH) 22 percent of girls aged between 15 and 19 in Kilifi County have began child bearing which is higher than the national statistics which stands at 18 percent.
“A week cannot go by without the night vigils. Many girls are defiled and some end up being pregnant and infected with sexually transmitted diseases in the process,” says Karisa.
She notes that communities must now move away from the popularisation of night vigils, which are unsafe to their daughters. They must have candid conversations on how to protect children. She recalls of a recent incident where a 16-year-old girl who schools at Upewoni was defiled by 18 year old in a disco matanga and the families were unwilling to talk about it or report the issue to the police.
How then does she handle such matters?
“I noticed the girl was pretty much disturbed and unusually quiet while in class. I called her aside and we talked at length, she opened up. We reported the case to the police. The matter is now in court,” Karisa says.
In Kilifi, the County Government issued a directive that banned disco matangas citing the rise in cases of sexual abuse and HIV infections among minors. Despite that night vigils still continues under the watch of local administration officials who collude with communities.
Both Kibokoni and Upewoni Primary schools have speak-out boxes installed in key locations that pupils post their issues. During the monthly parents meeting, the teachers are given an opportunity to educate parents on child protection and to handle GBV incidences when they arise.
Karisa’s main motivation lies with the fact that her parents gave her the opportunity to go to school despite the cultural conservatism on girls’ education among the coastal communities.
“I would not be where I am if I was not empowered through education. I have to ensure all the other girls also get to experience what it means to ascend through education and become responsible adults,” says Karisa.



January 22, 2019by admin0

In the rural parts of Kilifi, many girls are at risk of violation; most common is gender based violence (GBV). Over the years, the County has recorded incidences of child pregnancies and child marriages which has remained a major barrier to them accessing and transitioning to higher levels of education.
Cases of early pregnancies among school going children are widespread and a contributing factor to high incidences of school dropouts. According to a baseline survey on GBV conducted by CREAW in the County of Kilifi, cultural practice such as night vigil dances is largely to blame for the rising cases of teen pregnancies.
In 2018 alone, more than 14000 cases of pregnancies among school going children were reported by the Children’s Affairs Department. The girls affected are between the age groups of 13 and 19. The worrisome statistics tells the tale of many girls whose education has been cut short as they transition to motherhood roles.
In the wake of this, the office of the Women Representative through the Affirmative Action Fund has prioritised on educating girls to build a generation of informed, empowered and skilled girlhood.

Chairperson of the Kilifi County Affirmative Action Fund Jonathan Mativo

The chairperson of the Affirmative Action Jonathan Mativo spoke to CREAW about the scholarship initiative and how it is building sustainable livelihood for women and offering girls an opportunity to access basic quality education from disadvantaged homes within Kilifi.
CREAW: What is Affirmative Action Fund (AAF)?
Jonathan: Affirmative Action Fund (AAF) is an initiative of the national government that targets the vulnerable in the community. Established in 2015, the fund seeks to address the plight of vulnerable groups through enhanced access to financial resources for socioeconomic empowerment among women, youths, PWDs, needy children and the elderly. Currently, the Office of the Women Representatives in their respective counties manages the fund.
Kilifi has been widely reported as among the counties that records high number of child pregnancies. How do you think your scholarship and mentorship initiative will address the plight of many girls across the county?
We are committed to ensuring that families who live below the poverty rate are empowered and able to meet their daily needs as well as create sustainable livelihoods. Our initiative primarily targets to create access to livelihood support for women and access to secondary and tertiary education for disadvantaged girls from extremely poor households in Kilifi.
I will give you an example of a girl named Kadzo. ‘She comes from a family of eight. She is in class five and none of the siblings has ascended to higher education for lack of school fees. In the family, they do not have access to health and are not able to access information on critical issues that include getting access to bursaries.’ This is a scenario mostly depicted among families in Kilifi. AAF is mostly for the inflicted: women, girls and the elderly.
Our initiative provides yearly scholarships for many girls like Kadzo. We believe that with the strong educational background, women and girls have the capacity to achieve their goals and create financial freedom for themselves and their families.
Students supported by the Affirmative Action Fund in Kilifi

What are the challenges that girls face everyday in Kilifi?
Apart from poverty that ravages their livelihoods, girls are at risk of violations such as gender based violence. Many of them are married off to older men at a young age; transitioning them to parental roles and are not able to ascend to higher levels of education. This limits their chances of accessing quality basic education subsequently employment opportunities to support their families. Additionally, cultural practices give preference to boy child education at the expense of girls. Such creates inequality in the community.
Owing to the myriad challenges above and the glaring gender-gaps in the education of boys and girls, how does your initiative address the inequalities?
We give priority to girls due to the fact that transition rate is low amongst girls, however we also give scholarship to boys from disadvantaged families. But even with that, we know that there is need to address the deeply rooted cultural norms and barriers that disadvantage both boys and girls. The more reason why we are partnering with development organizations and partners like CREAW with community focused initiatives to bridge the gap.
Apart from the scholarships, we are also partnering with the national government to provide Information Communication and Technology skills training for unemployed youth. We traverse through the villages, set up computer packages classes for youths. The trainings are done in monthly intervals in all the sub-counties. Currently we are in 17 villages, reaching out to over 2000 students. For six years now we have done over 60, 000 youths.
Due to the nature of your work, how do you map out children who are in need of bursaries from the community?
We usually conduct community dialogues and visit households as well. In the dialogue we talk about the AAF and it goals. We also talk about the importance of ensuring all children enrol in schools at the right age and transition to secondary schools.
In the dialogues, parents, guardians or community members point out names of the children who are out of school for one reason or the other after which we do household visits to ascertain the situation.
We work with women groups; who bring along their children to forums. We sensitise them on what AAF aims at achieving and ways in which they can access the funds. They also are key in mapping out boys and girls who are challenged in accessing education in the community.
CREAW’s Steve Kioko presents a Baseline Report on GBV to Jonathan Mativo at his offices in Kilifi

How many scholarships have you given so far?
In January this year we gave out 50 scholarships to 39 girls and 11 boys across the county. We capitalised more on girls who are disabled or those whose parents are people living with disabilities or they are affected by cases of GBV. Every year we commit to getting over 50 girls on full scholarships that takes them through to form four.
Is it only bursaries or the scholarship also covers other expenses?
When we commenced the issuance of bursaries we realized that it was just a percentage of the money to address education needs of students. We needed to factor in logistical costs and basic needs. Apart from the yearly school fees, we also provide cash for pocket money and transportation to and from school. We do this to ensure we retain students in school and they are of good health for an improved performance.

Do you follow-up on the performance of the students that your initiative is supporting?
Yes. Every term we make visits to the various schools that the students are placed. We are keen on how they are performing in school throughout their education journey. Additionally, we encourage them to take up new skills through sports and joining clubs.
Your term of office ends in 2022, are there measures that you have put in place to ensure sustainability of the scholarship initiative?
After the girls are done with high school one of our ideas is to set up an education fund to see the girls go through the full cycle of 8-4-4 system of education. We are also creating partnership with development partners to support girls through universities.
In the short term, we want them to go through high school, keep them safe in school and comfortable. When they go to school they are safe from frustrations in school, but when they come back, they are back to such frustrations. When our session ends in 2022 we will hand them over to the new AAF committees to continue supporting them through school.
During school holidays how do you engage the girls within your cohort?
When schools are closed we organise mentorship boot camps for girls and young women. These boot camps provides safe spaces for the girls to voice out the challenges they are facing in school and at home.
During the mentorship sessions we bring facilitators and speakers the girls identify with and are role models in their sectors to motivate girls to be achievers. Some are more or less their peers. In the mentorship we also look at their after high school life, we want them to take up courses that informs their talent and those that also are meaningful to them.
I am also advantaged to sit in a consortium in Africa that speaks about the future jobs, we can easily start predicting how jobs will look like in 2030, so we prepare the girls on the environment and the dynamics of such jobs in future. We want to also mould the girls to support their peers in the community. When they close school we want to deploy them in the community like in dispensaries or other institutions to start developing skills and get reports. That is part of the mentorship program. We would want them to grow not only as educated but responsible people as well.
You were born and bread in Kilifi and understand the challenges that bedevil the development of communities. What motivates you to support children more so from Kilifi?
I am so passionate about education because the community also educated me. When I finished high school my parents had no money to take me to school, the community did a fundraising for me and I got school fees for the entire four years. I know what it feels for a child who would not get the opportunity to transition to high school. As a community oriented person, I feel content when my community grows. Development is a collective effort and we must all participate to ensure we build a generation with the required knowledge and skills for sustainable livelihoods.