The Uuuhs and Aaarghs of my life

Posts tagged ‘Humanitarian’

Innovative Teen Farmers!

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There are no words to express just how proud I am of my students at the Seed of Hope Centre!

As a mentor, I had decided to explore a different mode of teaching. I took a chair, sat down and gave the teens a platform for creative self expression.
These kids spend all-day learning in class but it was about time they had a form of output outside class activities.

Value of Student Clubs

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After successfully establishing four clubs during the last school term (Technology, Young Leaders,  Talents, Agriculture), the students are still packed with energy for more ways to develop their interests.

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The Agriculture Club stepped up and officially launched their club with fun landscaping activities around the school where both students and teachers participated.

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Innovative Farming

During the August 2014 school holidays, the Agriculture Club members independently organised holiday club activities like purchasing potato sacks (with their own money) for their landless kale farming project.

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All this, I came to witness recently when I visited the Centre to surprise the teachers with some news about the support of the Rabbit Department under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries through a rabbit production manual for the students to use.

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The potato sacks had been filled with fertile soil and vibrant green kale seedlings danced to a gentle breeze as they hang on the sides of the sacks.

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From the teens at Seed of Hope, I have witnessed a great shift of behavior and attitude. They no longer need to be told that they could have a great future; they believe so. They don’t need to be closely monitored, they have learnt to be independent. They don’t need to be told, “Smile” because they naturally smile all the time.

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How to get involved

There are a number of ways you could get involved as a friend of Seed of Hope:

The teens at the Centre need mentorship for club projects by professionals under the following fields:

*Agriculture – Kale farming. Rabbit farming. Chicken farming. Pest control of kale seedlings.

*Techies – How to use iPads. How to create and manage a Facebook page. How to use the internet for school research projects.

*Young Leaders – How to be a leader amongst fellow young people. How to overcome challenges that come with youth leadership. Opportunities that teen leaders need to explore.

*Creatives – Innovative projects for a club with a mix of talents (Singing, Fashion Design, modelling).

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How to make a donation

The Seed of Hope teens are in need of various items that will go a long way in improving their lives and stay at school. These include:

1. Bras, panties, clothes, sanitary towels and bathing soap for girls.

2. Underwear, bathing soap and clothes for boys.

3. Farming equipment for the Agriculture Club. (Spades, hoes, digging forks, farming machetes & rakes)

4. Any support that will contribute to internet connection for the students. (Currently no internet access at the Centre)

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Contact:
Florence
Headmistress – Seed of Hope Centre
Mobile: (+254)721405298
OkHi Map Link: http://goo.gl/e0yXNz

For more about the Seed of Hope Centre, please click here.

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Healthy Mind, Healthy Child

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Today, I had so much fun teaching the kids at the Kenyatta National Hospital Paediatric Learning Centre.
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The children were energetic and excited to learn. Some coloured some drawings, others wrote stories, others played with word blocks and others followed the teachers with books in their hands saying, “Teacher! Teacher! Please give me some homework…”
Now, how often do we hear children ask teachers for homework?
These kids love learning despite their state of physical health.
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The smiles on the faces of the little ones was like sunshine. They would like to stay engaged at the learning center but there aren’t enough volunteer teachers.
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Guess what? There is hope! This Friday, 23rd 2014 there will be a training session for volunteer teachers. This will be from 2:00 to 3:30pm at the Kenyatta National Hospital Paediatric Learning Centre (3rd floor). You are most welcome to join the team of volunteers!
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Volunteering at KNH Paediatric Learning Centre

Young people are encouraged to volunteer at the learning center.
Volunteering hours are usually from 11am – 3pm and from Monday to Thursday. Every volunteer will be part of any of the teams which work in two-day intervals. E.g. Team 1: Mondays and Wednesdays.
Kindly forward your name to Liz (below) for security clearance at the Paediatric Ward.
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Cancer Survivor Party!
You are invited to a great party at the KNH Paediatric Ward on June 2nd, 2014. Join the kids for a fun day of Arts & Crafts, Puzzle games and other fun activities.
Kindly confirm attendance by 30th, May 2014.

Sponsorship for this event is welcomed and will be much appreciated.

Paediatric Learning Centre Wish List

Priority
Toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap (washing & bathing), petroleum jelly, baby diapers (Huggies diapers, 0-3months), face towels, sanitary pads.

Classroom
Exercise books, pencils, colour pencils, crayons, erasers, rulers, ink pens, writing ink.
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Contact person:
Liz
Programme Director
Colour My World Kenya
(Partners with Kenyatta National Hospital Paediatric Learning Center)
Mobile: +254714481371

Proudly Humanitarian – Reshma Aziz Khan

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It is very rare in life to come across people who literally put their heart into what they do for a living. Fortunately, I have got one such friend called Reshma who is not only a warm pot of joy, but a true warrior when it comes to the business of helping people. But what makes one stop for a while and think, “I want to be a humanitarian?” Well, this is how Reshma discovered her passion as an aid worker.

Reshma: When I was young, I wanted to be a cardiac surgeon. My dad had a heart condition, and I wanted to grow up and help people like him… but then before he passed away, I started to get some averse reaction to seeing blood, so that plan definitely was not going to work! I still wanted to help people, and when I was in high school, someone told me about the life of an aid worker – I was hooked! Knowing that there are millions out there who need a helping hand. We have all been put on this earth as ONE humanity, and it is our responsibility to lend that helping hand, no matter how tough that can get!

So what has Reshma been up to lately?A marathon! But not just any other marathon. This year, Reshma has signed-up for the #Dead2Red marathon where she will be running with her team from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea.  She tells us more about the marathon:

Reshma: So it’s actually an annual event, the Dead 2 Red Marathon,  a relay event suitable for amateurs and athletes of all ages and genders without restriction. The marathon stretches 242 kilometres from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea. It starts at an altitude of 415 metres below sea level and leads up through the Arabian Desert reaching an altitude of 120 metres above sea level before descending towards the shores of the Gulf of Aqaba at the Red Sea.

Quite a brave challenge it is to be running from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea! What would make Reshma leave her comfy desk in Nairobi to take-on such a challenging task?

Reshma: This year, the date of the race coincides with the three year anniversary of the Syria Crisis. CARE International is running this marathon to raise awareness and funds for the plight of the more than 2.5 million refugees in the region and the more than 6.5 million people who remain displaced within Syria’s borders. As a lot of the media remains focused the on military clashes and the political efforts toward resolving this crisis, CARE urges the world to not forget the  humanitarian needs of more than ten million people. We want to raise awareness by putting a human face on this crisis and by showing our solidarity.  Our goal in running this marathon is to raise 50,000 US Dollars for the Syria Response in Jordan and Lebanon.

To accomplish such a great task, Reshma needs a great team to run with her from sea to sea to show solidarity for refugees in Syria. How will she do it?

Reshma: The CARE team consists of CARE staff working in Jordan, Lebanon and Kenya, as well as five Syrian refugees who themselves are volunteers in CARE’s urban refugee centres. In total, our international team consists of 10 members hailing from the USA, Portugal, Kenya, Germany, Jordan and Syria.  The Syrian refugees on the team are former engineers, teachers, graphic designers and students. They all volunteer with CARE to support and serve fellow Syrian refugees.

Yes, humanitarians do get the chance to creatively spread awareness about the increasing need to help people. But why did Reshma sign-up for the #Dead2Red marathon? Isn’t it a big risk?

Reshma: Having worked with refugees in Kenya’s Dadaab camps, and having heard their stories, you realize that any one of us could be a refugee. Could you imagine a life where you had to leave everything you knew behind, including all your possessions, community centres, possibly friends and family, job, everything. I am running for the refugees of the world, to show them that they are not alone.

Preparing for marathon from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea is not a cup of English tea! Reshma is honest to say that it has been tough, especially when it comes to physical training ahead of the event. However, quitting is not an option for this lady.

Reshma: …Running the marathon in itself is one of my biggest challenges! Those who know me know that I cannot run to save my life!  So trying to run more than 100 metres has been difficult, but I am happy to say that I can run 3000metres today without seriously huffing and puffing, so getting there! Also, I am always so busy, so trying to find time to run almost every day has been a challenge!

[But…] I keep pushing! I have to do this, not so much for me, but for the refugees! Keeping that in mind makes me go on!

On a lighter note, the life of a humanitarian comes with a variety of fun moments especially in cultural contexts. Here is an example where camel is involved.

Reshma: The inter-cultural communication – especially when you don’t speak the same language as the people you are helping, or your colleagues in another country! I remember the first time I was offered nyiri nyiri, dried camel meat – a delicacy in northern Kenya and Somalia….Everyone was looking at me expectantly for my approval, so even though I was not the biggest fan, I had to smile through this camel-fat filled aroma – not pleasant at all!

Aside from supporting CARE International in Kenya as a Knowledge Management Coordinator, Reshma happens to be a professional belly-dancer!

Reshma: Well many already know, but I LOVE to dance…….. I have been a belly dancer since I was young…dance is my way of connecting to the real me, carefree, like the wind!

Getting Involved

If you have been looking for a way to contribute to charity or just touch someone’s life out there amid the Syria crisis, Reshma invites you to join the cause and send a donation through this CARE International page.

For more about the Syrian Civil War, please click here.

Join the conversation on Facebook by following the hashtag #Dead2Red and see what the runners have been up to as they prepare for the marathon!

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If you have never met a real humanitarian warrior, you can now check that off your list having virtually met one!

“…I can do my best to make sure that I helped as many people as I could to empower themselves , for the improvement of their own lives, those of their families and communities.” ~Reshma Aziz Khan

Modelling meets Charity!

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When a good friend tagged me onto a Facebook post about a call for models for an upcoming charity swim marathon, the first thing that crossed my mind was, “When was the last time I put on a bikini?”

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But when reason settled in, I realised that I was just trying to look for a reason to shy away from wearing a bikini. But when I later accepted the Facebook event invite by Evgeniya, the event planner, I was struck by inspiration.

Evgeniya posted photos of talent auditions at a place called Huruma which some consider to be a slum area in Nairobi. The children looked so happy and I could not resist smiling as I scanned through the photos.

I had no plans for the weekend and this was a chance for me to be part of an amazing charity event that involved children… I was sold and ready to walk that runway to make the day as great as intended.

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But if there was something I did not understand, it would be what a Rotary club is all about. To be honest, I always thought it was one of those old clubs full of old and retired expatriates who play Bingo during vacations on a fancy yatch. I know… I have watched too many movies starring old people 🙂 This is why it was surprising to know that there was a Rotary Club in Nairobi. I thought, “There aren’t any docking stations in Nairobi!”

Sad… I know. Later on, I did my research and found out that Rotary International is a global village of neighbours, friends, and community leaders. They team up to create initiatives that promote positive change and resilience in various communities around the world. So far, the village comprises of about 2.2million members. Nairobi’s Rotary Club is currently headed by David Hastie (President: 2013-2014).

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So what made this year’s Rotary Swimarathon special?

Well, it is because of the unfortunate return of Polio in Northern Kenya. Since 1985, Rotary has led the battle against Polio and the club wanted to support the End Polio Now immunization campaign. This also led to the teaming up with the Nairobi Swimmers Association (NASA) to bring together swimmers on Sunday, 23rd February 2014 to swim non stop between 3 and 4pm. The swim marathon happened at the same time globally! 🙂

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To add to the fun, there was an inspired serving of entertainment by Sanchat Trust Restart groups which included an amazing choir, break dancers, sensational salsa dancers and lovely little models doing the catwalk. These talented groups of young people had travelled from Gilgil to showcase their great talent and to appreciate the Nairobi Rotary Club for their support.

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To add some icing on the cake, there was a spicy catwalk by professional Nairobi models showcasing Mohamed Bana’s Kikoy swimwear collection and gowns for auction.

It had been long since I last strut on the runway but I had so much fun with the models that it all came naturally. None of the models asked for payment as we all understood that it was for charity and we all enjoyed and cheered-on the little ones as they did their catwalk.

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So where did all the money go to?

A third of the proceeds from the event went to supporting the End Polio Now campaign, another third went to Nairobi Swimmers Association (NASA).

The remaining third went to supporting Rotary charities in Kenya, including:
1. Eye camps for free cataract operations in rural populations.
2. Energy saving jikos (traditional stoves) for schools who provide free lunches to students.
3. Sanitary and water schemes for slums and schools.
4. Providing bed kits to primary school children, in partnership with Sleeping Children.

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At the end of the day, I felt so blessed to have been part of such an inspired event. Some members of the public had
paid an entry fee of Ksh. 1,000 and students above 18years had bought tickets worth Ksh. 500 to be part of the event.

A feeling of warmth and fulfilment runs through me when I remember the little ones from Gilgil modelling and the young drummers from Huruma who were our musical guide as we spiced up the runway with Mohamed’s tasty fashion designs.

Pots of joy!

If you fancy Mohamed Bana’s designs, you can reach his fashion store through mobile: +254739632804

Check out more event photos here.

With Love,
Ayuma.

Kenyan Boys need Mentoring on how to Handle Girls

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Today, I seriously scolded a boy after he slapped a girl just because she did not do what he asked.

I was furious and deeply disappointed! More so because I know that children borrow habits from adults around them. He had seen a grown man do the same and thought it was the best way to make his point to a girl.

In primary school, I saw young boys run after girls whose breasts and hips had started developing.
The girls were in serious pain after the boys carelessly squeezed and pinched their breasts.

Yes guys, boobs really really hurt when developing or during menstruation!

Clearly, neither did the teachers nor the parents teach the boys that a girl’s body is sensitive and should be treated with care and with respect.

At a young age, I saw the real face of rape as dozens of boys in school raced after a girl in my class so that they can all ‘play’ with her developing breasts, hips, vagina and bottom. At one time, one of the targeted girls fainted after she sought refuge in a school bus but forgot to lock the door.

I was disgusted and often faced threats by boys when the girls asked me to help them with reports since my curves had not developed hence not pausing a danger to myself. I was scared of all the threats from the boys. The teachers did little to stop the madness and I was forced to be silent.

But today, I had a voice and I could not remain quiet. I told the boy that he acted like a coward by hitting a girl, not once but twice. I taught him how he ought to treat a girl. I told him that violence has never solved anything. I told him that he needs to grow up and learn to use his brain to communicate and not his hand. I requested him to shut up and not try to give me any excuse for what he did and take responsibility.

The girl was so scared and I tried to comfort her.

When the guardian of the boy came, I was shocked to see just how oblivious he was of the seriousness of the situation.

Disgusted, I scolded the boy, suggested a punishment and frankly told the guardian to man-up and discipline the boy.

I walked away disappointed to see just how much boys are not being mentored to act like real men.

Please, teach a boy how to handle a girl!

Someone out there might do the same to your sister, mother or daughter.

#StopGenderViolence

You’ve Got Enough to Help Someone

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As I watched an episode of extreme makeover home edition, I got inspired by what one man said.

He said that many of us look forward to an opportunity that somehow makes our existence here on earth worthwhile. Such opportunities require selflessness as we devote ourselves to helping other people.

Reflecting upon my country Kenya, I see the need of selfless acts of charity within every stretch of 100m within the city.

Homeless families sitting by the roadside. Men so broken with poverty to a point of madness. Children misguided with begging as the only way to look forward. And citizens walking past them as if the needy are invisible.

But somewhere deep inside me, there is hope. I look inside my home and it is clear that I have got something here and there that can make a big difference in someone’s life who needs it more.

And so enough with demanding that our government takes action. Enough with demanding that other people do something. Enough with looking at myself as ‘not enough’.

It just takes one person to notice that it is Not OK to have homeless people in our streets.
It is not ok to allow poverty to break our countrymen to a point of psychological suicide – depression.
It is not ok to let Kenyan children to live in the streets and grow up thinking their only hope is in begging for a living.
It is not ok for a fellow human being to sleep hungry.
It is not and will never be ok!

Whatever you’ve got available is enough to help in restoring the hope in others. There isn’t such a thing as the ‘right moment’ to help. Any time is the best time to help someone. It only takes being on the receiving end to see just how real this is.

So when you go about your day and walk in the streets, just know that you could be a blessing in disguise to someone who needs a helping hand so badly.

Love is everything good people. Let us go out there and share it!

Love and Sunshine,
Ayuma.

Michelle Ayuma ~ Creative Communications Specialist

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Michelle Ayuma - Creative Communications Specialist

“Slowly, I’ll rise and get up there. Slowly, I’ll reach the top. Slowly I’ll learn my lessons in life. Slowly I will try my best.” ~Anon

I think that what makes me unique is the fact that I can only function in creative environments. Literally! This is how I get inspired to do something, write a new story, design a new concept or even sing a new song. Also, as a humanitarian, I draw my passion from children. There is always something about children that gives me the courage to keep going, to keep hoping, to keep sharing love in different ways and hopefully leave the world a better place than I found it.

If there is something the world does not know about me, it would be that I started writing stories as a pre-teen. I was always a geek and I never got the chance to hang out with the cool girls or the cute boys in school. Writing helped me paint a world of my own with unique characters that often featured intercultural and interracial relations. At a young age, I picked this up real quick and so later on in life, I had more confidence to meet with people from different backgrounds and totally enjoy their company.

The lowest point in my life so far was about five yeas ago when adversity hit me hard to a point I launched into depression for about three years. After recovery, I came to have a deeper appreciation for life and seasons of loss as well. This helped me appreciate the scars of my past which made me reflect on my strengths which pulled me out of depression.

If I were to meet with the girl I was five years ago, I would tell myself that I am my only limitation because the future is as bright as I imagine it to be. Not knowing my worth is what led me to depression. I can only imagine what difference it would have made in those three years of my life if I was reminded that if I keep working towards my personal vision, I would stumble but I’ll have something to keep fighting for.

My greatest achievement so far is receiving an Enterprise Champion Award this year from OpenText for showing exemplary effort in the promotion of Knowledge Management best practices as a Communication assistant at CARE International’s East and Central Africa’s Regional Management Unit. What makes this a special achievement is that it was my first time interacting with the term ‘Knowledge Management’ but I did not shy away from learning about it. I requested for mentorship by some awesome colleagues in CARE Kenya and CARE Canada and they sure taught me so much and I had fun in the process. This also helped me teach regional staff members and regional communication focal points about fun and interactive ways to share knowledge with an extra African touch – storytelling. I am truly excited to see how some of the initiatives that I started carry-on even after my leaving the amazing CARE global family.

TOP 3:

Best: …travel destination of my dreams is a hot air balloon ride over the Maasai Mara. I love Africa and Kenya to be specific. My country has got the best mix of bush to beach and a snow-capped mountain. How awesome is that!

Craziest: …dream is dancing in the streets of India like in Bollywood movies with a large crowd of people tossing colourful dye and flowers everywhere. Loved it!

Worst: …food is boiled cabbage. I cannot stand the smell of boiler cabbage. The sulphur… oh man!

BEST TIPS ON CREATIVE COMMUNICATIONS:

1. Never compare your dream with that of other people. As a creative, you need to stand out as uniquely as possible.
2. Have a great appetite for learning. Look for opportunities to be mentored by people with knowledge and experience in your fields of interest.
3. Avoid negativity. This is poison to any living creative on the globe. Positivity creates a healthy environment for a creative mind.
4. Keep a journal and write down all of our ideas and thoughts. Reflect upon these from time to time and see how they actively influence your direction in life.
5. Keep-up with the latest news within your field of interest.
6. Invest in technology. Know the latest trends that would compliment your interests and your personality.
7. As a Christian, I love to pray and meditate. This always keeps me on check as I balance what I want out of life and what my purpose is while I am still on earth.

WHAT AM I UP TO LATELY?

After my time at CARE International came to an end, I went back to doing volunteer work as a mentor for young girls at Vision Africa’s Seed of Hope Center. Also, I am currently being mentored by the best of humanitarian communication officers who represent various INGOs at the regional communications network. As I look for my next opportunity to learn more about humanitarian communications and Knowledge Management, I am learning more about creative methods of communication. I am so happy and my heart is full!

I am 25years old.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Email: ayumamichelle@ymail.com
Skype: Michelle.Senda
Twitter: @ayumyum

PS: Please share your thoughts with me. Thank you!

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