Stories from Kenya you need to hear

I’ve been at GlobalGiving since 2008, after spending 7 years in Neuroscience. What attracted me to GlobalGiving in the first place was knowing that stories like these were out there, and that I could do something about it.

Imagine the possibility of inverting power structures in Africa and changing the way money gets spent to help communities. What if technology could allow people living on a dollar a day to get their stories on the web, and join a global conversation, so that what matters most gets noticed and people give a little to solve problems?

A recent profile of GlobalGiving’s co-founders explains the big picture quite well:

"Mari Kuraishi and her colleague Dennis Whittle abandoned their desks at the World Bank in favor of a more direct approach to development. They resolved to work with the people living on the front lines—the people who have the strongest incentives to reduce poverty, protect human rights and the environment, spread education and improve health in their communities."

And here are some of the stories we’ve recently collected from Kenya directly from the people themselves, in no particular order:

I had never before seen the old man standing on our doorstep but sure enough when I blinked, he was still there. In a voice weak with days of hunger and thirst, he asked for a drink of water I was a little scared if this strange wild looking man and hurried to the kitchen without answering him. “Mummy, there’s a man outside who wants a drink of water”, she looked puzzled but came with a glass of water to the door. The old man drunk quickly in long gulps never pausing for a breath of air. When he finished he handed the glass to my mother and though shabby, was polite enough to say “thank you”.
Overcome by curiosity, I asked “who are you? And where do you come from?“
A sad look came from his eyes as he answered, “a long way away from here my child”.
By now, both my mother and I were intrigued by the old man and she invited him in to tell us his story. He spoke with a slight accent and looked as wise as his years. His clothes were little more than rags and had not been washed for a long time. “Where I come from, the land is for green and fertile and I like in a wide plain. After his story I was shocked since this man was my grandfather whom my fathers abandoned many years ago!!! (ID:1eb09a37-f620-42e1-a6e3-10313f5b6453)

In kibera we have many plots but no toilets and also funnily there are more churches than toilets. Flying toilets is the norm of the day in Kibera and they are thrown anyhowly. I ask people from kibera to build more toilets to keep our environment clean. (ID:2070b4b7-584a-4975-8a45-344fa1787b2f)

Corruption has become rampant recently. Everyone from the top government officials to the last man in Kenya are involved or are affected by it and so development is hindered. My sister went for an interview for a teaching job in Kisumu. The bus that we boarded to Kisumu was being driven by a drunk driver and when we realized that we couldn’t alight the bus as we had already payed our fare.

As we approached a police roadblock and the bus was stopped we thought that the police will order us to get out of the bus but we were shocked when the police were given money and the driver got in the bus and we drove off. As we were about to reach Kisumu we were involved in an accident that my sister escaped narrowly with minor injuries. We got at the place for interview and my sister was told to wait for 30 minutes. She was called back in and unfortunately she was told she didn’t qualify for the job, but we later realised that my sister lost the job because she didn’t bribe the interviewers. (ID:24a272b1-4b01-4710-ba86-69e92c0185a5)

Mutheu is 24yrs old and a o-level graduate. She narrates her story how she was raped at the age of 19yrs old.

"My mother died during my form four examination which I cleared but with a lot of stress about how we could manage living with my elder mother. Who still mistreated us even when my mother was still alive. My family is a polygamous one with 8 children. One day a man pretended to be good and found me around our garden at the edge
crying at 6pm. Took advantage of my problems after the burial. We chatted for a long time so promised me to wait for him for only 15min to get for me some money because he was from the city."

Poor her, she waited until 7:00pm what did she get? The man really came with what was a piece of cloth choked with his arm and tied her mouth with that piece of cloth and her hands too. So he raped her even without a condom and gave her 500shs.

She couldn’t say it to her step mother because of her attitude towards her. She decided to come to Nairobi, Kibera, to her relative – with the money the rapist gave her. So she told her cousin and they took her to the hospital and examine her but HIV negative. She urges ladies to join one of the organization like BOX-GIRL learners self defense and conflict skills. As I my self want to join the self defense group for my secure. (ID:2e66dddb-9bc0-4c98-bf27-f99abfc1fb26)


Again from the recent article, Mari Kuraishi says, “If you’re really committed to development, what are you going to do? Tell the people who live in countries where the governments are weak or corrupt, ‘Best of luck, your government couldn’t manage its way out of a brown paper bag so whatever support the World Bank gives you is probably going to be frittered away, but that’s your problem and not ours.’”

Hell no. You fight back. You start Box Girls and tell people about it on some website, so that Mutheu has the power to fight off rapists. You support open technology like Ushahidi and FrontlineSMS that helps people get the word out, and may some day transform Kenya into a direct democracy. And you spread the word about what others are doing, by blogging, using facebook, twitter, or writing a letter to your local paper. Talk about what matters, and what matters will change.

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