Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ladies In Action and Sukuma Kenya nominated as "Unsung Peace Heroes"

Just received some very touching news that Ladies In Action and Sukuma Kenya are among 8 nominations that have been selected as "Unsung Peace Heroes" for efforts during the post-election crises. As you may remember, this blog was initiated to raise funds and awareness for victims of the crises in and around Kisumu. In a matter of weeks, all of you out there donated a total of 12,000$ which Ladies In Action (the tiny little charity run by my folks) used to help thousands of people.

The nomination process was done through the public and they received over 500 entries via sms, phone calls and emails so we are rathered honoured as a family and all the credit really goes to my folks, Tobias Kadongo and Ren Odabashian and other volunteers who were on the ground helping people as well as all our friends and family and friends of friends who sent in vital funds. Thank you...

Other nominees whom I look forward to meeting tomorrow and the small prize giving ceremony are:

1. Alfred Sakwa Sabatia (Eastleigh) - Alfred is 21 years and grew up as an orphan. Since 1996 he lived under sponsorship of the St. Teresa's Catholic Church in Eastleigh. He got hurt while bringing a friend's child to school. He decided to help others during the crisis. He took food, clothes, and utensils given by friends, churches and organizations to Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps in Mathare, Air Force and Huruma. He organized peace talks, composed peace songs, verses and plays, started a peace self help group to keep the youth engaged named "High hopes", "The jaws" and "Joapapes", he joined organizations like Eastleigh Youth Network. Currently, he is recording three new peace songs.

Esther Wanza Muisu (Mombasa) - Esther is 42 years old and a Kamba married to a Kikuyu. She lives in Mikoni, Mombasa. During the period December 28th - January 15th she helped people with food and shelter, a total of 25 people slept overnight at her place. She said; "I know what it means to lose".

Joel Cheruiyot Sigei (Bomet) - Joel is a 48 year old Kipsigis who hid 18 people, 4 Kisii families, for 2 weeks in his compound. He did this secretly to hide them from the community. He gave them maize from his stock and milk from his two dairy cows. Furthermore, he helped children in an IDP camp by bringing them 40 litres of milk every day. When the violence ended, he arranged transport for the 4 families.

Freddy Kamakei Ole Sangiriaki (Narok) - 'Freddy' is 28 years old Maasai who wanted to protect his Kikuyu friend from an angry group of Maasais looking for ‘enemies’. He got beaten up and decided that this could not be accepted. He and his neighbor friends formed a group called 'Kenyan Initiative - by Kenyans for Kenyans' consisting of mostly Maasai together with Kikuyu, Kisii and Luo men. They went out at night to follow and find the angry mob. By talking to them they convinced them to stop the violence and killing after one week. As they went around Narok area, other groups copied their example and set up similar 'peacekeeping groups’. As a result, (Freddy claims) the violence ended much sooner in Narok area than in the rest of the country.

Maureen 'MKenya' Auma Obonyo (Kibera-Kisumu Ndogo) - When others were too afraid, 'Maureen Mkenya' went out and helped the weak in Kibera. When Kibera started 'burning' there was a sudden shortage of food. She witnessed the anger and despair from close by. Uzima Foundation received food donations and Maureen distributed food and food vouchers for them to the sick and the old. Maureen hid her Luo identity by calling herself Maureen MKenya. Some people thought she was a Kikuyu and she was beaten up three times for this reason. She furthermore facilitated peace sessions and organized football tournaments and drama festivals.

Ann Wangari 'Mugeci Damiano' (Nariobi) - Next to her own three children Ann (39) takes care of 15 orphans in the age 6 to 15 years. During the post-election period she went to Muranga district and found 59 children from a burned children’s homes, children from Molo and Narok who needed help, she chose the youngest and brought them to her home in Kasarani. One is Luo and the rest are Kikuyu. All children are now in school. She receives support from friends, church and family.

Paul Omukaya Ayodi (Kawangware) - This 39 years old pastor took immediate action after the election violence broke loose. He took orphans and people who lost their homes to a school for shelter. He helped a total of 20 families of which 5 families are still supported by him, mostly with contributions through the church. One family is Luo, two Kikuyu families, some Luhya and other tribes. Every day he works in a bar in Nairobi from 3pm to late and the rest of his time he dedicates to charity.

Needless to say that none of the people who did anything to help during the post-election crises did it for personal recognition (except politicians of course), it is wonderful that all these people have been recognised in the hope that it brings us together more as a country. As Sharad Rao, former Director of Public Prosecutions and chair of jury says, The initiative is premised on the understanding that in order to move forward, there is a need to profile and hear the very beautiful stories that gave us hope as Kenyans and strengthened the social cohesion among the antagonistic communities. It recognises that not everyone gave in to the madness in those dark hours. There were people who, during moments of crisis and violence, risked their own lives to save members of other communities,” says Sharad Rao, chair of the jury and former director of public prosecutions.

Special thanks to Media Focus on Africa and Butterfly Works for putting this together. In a time of perpetual political darkness, its nice to have some light.

Thank you.


Colleen said...

That is wonderful news that the Ladies in Action have been nominated and to read about the other groups too.
Groups like the Ladies in Action are truly a light in the darkness.

muthoni music said...

Dipesh and the Ladies in action, You are wonderful people. This blog is where i counter check all my political and activist opinions on stuff from, and i think its great that you have been recognized for your wit and your courage. Thank you for staying positive about Kenya,and for caring enough to do something. And for challenging the hell out of every single on of us.

Sukuma Kenya said...

Thanks for these beautiful words Muthoni and Colleen!

Rombo said...

Congratulations to you and your folks, Dipesh.

As with Muthoni, this has become my go to page for political activism news.

Keep up the good work and all the best.