Author Archives: Two Feet Project

About Two Feet Project

One sight Unforgotten. Various needs revealed. Four zealously crazy people And A call to passionately redemptive love! One life at a time, Forever Changed Two Feet Project

THE LIFE AND STRUGGLES OF ORPHANS IN KENYA (my story)

The future of an orphan in Kenya and elsewhere in the world is uncertain. Babies born to single mothers and those who have lost their parents due to AIDS or other serious, unfortunate diseases, face discrimination. They are likely to be rejected by society and face a hopeless future of poverty, homelessness, and abuse. Girls may be forced into bonded labour or child prostitution. Even if they survive, they lose out on education, suffer from malnutrition, and are vulnerable to disease and at risk of early death.

My parents passed away when my siblings and i were still very young. I was five when my father died and six when my mum passed on. I was still too young to understand how difficult life would be but old enough to know that our lives would never be the same again. Five young orphans stood in line to have their last family picture taken during mum’s funeral, their fate only God knew.  Things changed rapidly after that with my big brother dropping out of school, my other siblings and I frequently being sent home due to lack of school fees, my poor old grandmother trying her best to provide for us. She did not have a job and neither was she strong enough to till the shamba so she ended up selling livestock and household items in the market to buy food. Most people live below the poverty level of less than one dollar a day so our extended family found it difficult to care for us.  I ended up being sent to a children’s home, one of my sister’s  was sent to central Kenya to live with my aunt while the rest stayed with grandma, my little brother later joined me at the home but then left to live in a boy’s home. I saw the rest of my family ten years later after completing high school.

Even though I never lacked anything at the home, emotionally I was traumatized. I felt guilty knowing that my siblings lacked basic needs. We all grew up separately and faced our own struggles but one thing that broke my heart is that we were strangers. I remember meeting my sister for the first time in ten years, standing in Nairobi town not knowing what she looked like. She was married and pregnant with her first child. She was fortunate to complete high school with the help of an uncle who paid her school fees. After high school she got a job in Nairobi but life was too hard on her own and that’s when she met her husband and decided to settle. She is now separated and raising her son single handedly .Our eldest brother stayed up country. Married with a stepson and a daughter, he does not work, he joined a gang, and was involved in crime until he witnessed one of the gang members being shot by the police while fleeing. Now he drinks and uses all types of drugs.My other sister is now a single mum of two beautiful kids and is struggling to raise them as she does not have a job.  My youngest brother struggles every day to make ends meet and depends on me and our eldest sister.

After leaving the children’s home, the world was different on the outside. I was ignorant and unequipped for life outside the home. I had no idea how to survive on my own. I was jobless and alone, and ended up living with friends. I got temporary jobs, which went for long hours and very low pay. Life was extremely hard. There were times I almost gave up completely but something kept me going. I kept telling myself that God must have had a plan for me. I never resorted to drugs but I started using alcohol. I was in an abusive relationship for two years, but when my sister got wind of this she took me in and helped me find a job. I worked in one of the most dangerous streets in Nairobi selling phones, twelve hours a day, seven days a week with very little pay. Finally, I got a job in a mall in Nairobi but some workers were laid off, as the shop wasn’t doing so well, me included, and once again I was jobless and a liability. Seventeen years ago I was separated from my siblings, we all grew up separately but have undergone similar struggles, our story is still being written. I thank God for Grace Children’s Center for taking me in and provided for me, giving me an education and a family of wonderful brothers and sisters.I thank God for Two Feet Project for making my dream of getting a university education come true. I am a beneficiary of their scholarship program and part of their staff. TFP has given me the platform to impact lives of Kenyan youth who are going through hardship, and for the first time I have the courage to share my story, I am determined to change many young girls’ lives that are going through what I have been through. God must have had a plan.

Written by, Lucy. It has taken years to talk about my story, but now that I have the chance to change someone s life, I am determined to do whatever I can to ease someone’s hardship through mentorship.


CAUSES OF DRUG ABUSE AMONG SLUM DWELLERS

In 2004, the National Agency for the campaign Against Drug Abuse(NACADA) carried out a national survey of alcohol and drug use among young people aged 10 to 24 in Kenya. The results revealed that the most common substances used by young people were alcohol, tobacco, marijuana (bhang/cannabis sativa) miraa (khat, a plant used as a narcotic), and inhalants such as glue. Among all these marijuana or bhang is the only illegal drug. The survey found that substance abuse was much higher among out of school youth than among students. However, this large disparity may be partly due to students under reporting the extent of their substance abuse.

Every day I encounter first hand young people abusing drugs in school, on the streets and even some in the comfort of their homes, and it is a bit disturbing because I remember at a young age my friends and i would sit around and swear never to abuse drugs and any of our classmates who admitted to smoking were looked at as outcasts, now it is the complete opposite, if you don’t smoke or drink alcohol you are seen as “uncool” especially among students in secondary schools and universities and mostly by those who come from rich or middle class families. As has been seen elsewhere around the world young people in Kenya are dramatically influenced by their friends’ substance use, however my main focus for now is to discuss drug abuse in the slum areas.

According to a study by APHRC done in 2002 the most common drugs used by people who live in slum areasare cigarettes (65%), marijuana (52%), glue (14%) and petrol (11%), There are many reasons that can drive a young adult living in the slum areas to drink or engage in drug abuse, the most probable cause is unemployment, lack of jobs is a big problem in Kenya and especially among people living in slum areas, as we all know an idle mind is the devils workshop. Young people will use drugs just to pass time and kill boredom not knowing that excessive use leads to addiction and dependency on the drugs they use.Lack of a stable income drives young people to use drugs to escape reality, some will even engage in the business of selling drugs just to make a living.Peer pressure is also a major cause of drug abuse especially to those who complete school and start mingling with those who were already done with school and those who never went to school due to lack of jobs or school fees to further their education; they are encouraged to engage in drug use since there are no job. Due to poverty and poor living standards in slums most parents feel the need to use drugs and alcohol to reduce stress thus they do not provide parental guidance to their children who assume that it’s okay to take drugs since their parents do it too. When you live in a surrounding where everyone smokes and drinks you grow up doing the same things without even thinking about it.

In an environment crowded by unemployed people and poor living conditions a lot of evil arises, for example theft, rape and domestic violence thus victims will turn to drinking and drugging as a way to numb the pain, Rape and abuse can cause depression and anxiety to a young mind and those who suffer from this conditions like the effects that drugs and drinking have on their minds, they may find that these substances temporarily lift their spirits. These are a few causes of drug abuse, whatever the cause though; the path of drinking and doing drugs can take a very nasty turn if it gets out of control. Substance abuse is causally related to unintended injury, suicide, and interpersonal violence, unplanned sexual intercourse which increases the risk of unwanted pregnancy, STDs and HIV& AIDS.

This shows that drug abuse is a reality; the implication is that with this threat hanging over it, the future of the society is uncertain and therefore something must be done urgently to address the issue. Change can only be attained if all the parties concerned have seen its need and have made an informed decision to effect it.

Written by Lillian Mwai, she is a student majoring in Co-operative Business Administration at the Co-operative College University of Kenya. She is also involved in spreading drug abuse and HIV & AIDS awareness in Kibera slums.

 

 

 


HOW LACK OF SANITARY TOWELS AFFECTS EDUCATION FOR GIRLS

According to the African population and health Centre (APHRC), Limited access to safe affordable, convenient and culturally appropriate methods for dealing with menstruation has far reached implications for rights and physical, social and mental well-being of many women and adolescent girls in Kenya, it undermines sexual and reproductive health and has been shown to restrict access to education

UNESCO estimates that one in 10 African adolescent girls in remote areas misses school during their menses and eventually drops out because of menstruation related issues. Studies have shown that many girls in Kenya miss 3-5 days of school every month during their monthly periods due to lack of sanitary towels, Any teacher would tell you that a girl without access to sanitary towels feels embarrassed, unhygienic and uncomfortable, she also loses self-esteem and with that the confidence to interact with her classmates or with teachers in the classroom. This deliberate absenteeism is mainly as a result of lack of financial resources to afford the cost of conventional sanitary towels available in the market. Most of these girls as well as women are forced to use unhygienic clothing materials to keep dry during their menses, a situation that on many occasions causes embarrassment to users as the materials are leaky, to avoid such situations; these girls avoid school while women curtailcertain social engagements that would expose their vulnerable state. This makes it hard for female students to compete with their male counterparts in education putting the female child a step behind throughout life.

A girl absent from school for four days in 28 days (month) loses 13 learning days equivalent to two weeks of learning in every school term. In an academic year (nine months) a girl loses 39 learning days equivalent to six weeks of learning time. A girl in primary school between grades 6 and 8 (three years) loses 18 learning weeks out of 108 weeks. Within the four years of high school a girl can lose 156 learning days equivalent to almost 24 weeks out of 144 weeks of learning in high school.

The amount of money allocated for provision of free sanitary towels was slashed by 99 million shillings in the financial year 2013/2014, this is the 300 million shillings allocated previously to the ministry of education for the provision of sanitary towels to 568,925 needy girls between class 6 and 8, a fraction of the 2.5 million in need of the towels. This means that only 1/3 of the targeted girls will benefit. Recently on citizen TV there was a shocking story about young girls in Marigat,Baringo county who use chicken feathers, goat skin, soil and even leaves during their periods due to lack of options, as shocking as this can be, it is happening, many girls are forced to use unhygienic methods to keep dry during their monthly period. Some girls dig a hole and sit on it throughout the period meaning they miss school, others cut pieces of blankets and clothing, some cases are too shocking and sad to even imagine.

The issue of lacking sanitary towels in Kenya is not new, what is new is more people are informed and have become aware of the situation and more people can now take action. It is not enough to be shocked and sympathize and talk about it. We all need to do something about it, this is the first step in empowering women making sure the girl child is in a position to compete with her male counterparts in school, instill confidence and self-esteem, girls need sanitary towels, many cannot afford them and this is the reality. A packet of sanitary towels costs ksh 40 that is about $0.50 so we should do something. Are there people and organizations doing something about this? Yes. Is there enough being done. No. There are areas on the map that do not benefit at all, more and more girls are being born every day and a lot needs to be done.

As projects and campaigns are being carried out to provide sanitary ware, there is also need to provide information to girls about their bodies and menstruation itself. Studies have shown that there exists limited knowledge about the biological process of menstruation among girls and women living in remote areas and slums, many women and adolescent girls in Kenya have limited knowledge about their bodies, especially in relation to menstruation and sexual and reproductive health. In some parts of Kenya menstruation is treated with silence and as a taboo topic, this limits women’s and girls’ access to relevant and important information.

If something is not done and if the government does not keep its word it means, as one website campaigning for sanitary towels in schools put it, “Kenya is unlikely to achieve Education for all (EFA) goals and gender parity by 2015 or the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

Written by Lucy. Research by UNESCO and APHRC


THE LITTLE THINGS THAT ARE SO BIG

It was in the month of April when I was applying for University. The United States International University is located along the Thika road highway near the Safari park hotel. I alighted from the bus at Safari park and as I walked up the stairs at the foot bridge i noticed a beggar seated just above the stairs and, without thinking or looking, I threw the ten shillings I held in my hand at his feet and walked away. I did not think about him again, and for the few days I crossed the bridge I did the same thing.

I was accepted at the university and so every day I would carry an extra ten shillings to give the beggar at the bridge. One day I was late for school, so I was running up the stairs to cross the foot bridge with my phone in my hand. I tripped and my phone flew out of my hand and landed at the beggar’s feet. As he picked it up to place it in my hand, I took a closer look at him. A man in his late fifties, he had white hair and a little white mustache, wore a green hoody jacket, one foot had a shoe on, the other foot was shoeless and swollen and some skin had peeled off but had healed, a case of elephantiasis maybe. I took the phone and said hi, he smiled back at me and said I should be more careful climbing up the stairs. I walked away and as I reached the other end of the bridge I looked back at him and walked slowly down the stairs. I could not stop thinking about this man, and the fact that I hadn’t given him the usual ten shillings. I kept wondering where he comes from, does he have children, how many people actually talk to him as they drop coins at his feet and how does he feel when no one talks to him?

In the evening I talked about this beggar at the bridge with my roommate for a while and I asked her all the questions I had in mind. I decided I would always say hello when I dropped change at his feet, so the next day I said hello, then dropped the ten shillings and walked away, and every day that followed I would do that. He would answer with a big smile on his face and shouted a God bless you as I walked away. As days passed, I realized that people who gave him change after me would also say hello, and I saw how happy it made him. As I walked away I realized it made me feel happy as well. I realized if I didn’t say hi to him,I would walk away feeling extremely guilty and it made me feel really bad. My roommate thought I was crazy but I wasn’t. Well, maybe I sounded a little crazy.

I haven’t asked for his name yet but every time he sees me walking up the stairs he smiles like he has won a lottery and even though i don’t give him change sometimes, I always stop to say hello. What little thing do you do that makes someone else feel important? What little thing makes you feel bad if you don’t do it? Angels are not only in heaven, they are everywhere. God has given all of us the gift of life and the ability to make other people happy. You can be someone’s angel and spread happiness to the world. There are so many little things we can do to make a big difference in somebody else’s life. Think about this little things and do them, as little and unimportant as they may seem they touch someone’s life in a mighty big way. Try talking to that lonely girl in your church or classroom, smiling at the gateman as you walk in and out, or complimenting your housekeeper when she does a good job. Believe me, it makes them feel important and appreciated.

No man is an island. We all need each other to survive in this world and it should be everyone’s duty to warm people’s hearts everywhere we go. Be the difference that the world needs, walk a mile in somebody else’s shoes, and imagine yourself in somebody else’s place. As you check out your to do list, think about how you have made someone smile or how many people think about you when they do a flashback of their best moments of the day. Make a change in the smallest ways and make a big difference and if you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in the same room with a mosquito.

Written by Lucy, the chief blog editor of this website and program assistant at two feet project.

 


INDIVIDUAL IDENTITY DETERMINE YOUR CHARACTER

Abraham Lincoln, the legendary American, once said, “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” Billy Graham went further and said ‘’When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost. Perhaps the greatest catastrophe of the

Y-generation lies in the question of character. Each one of us, including the author of this piece, has an element of character in him. All of us have that je ne sais quoi about us; this indescribable element about us is what defines our character. Our character is the offspring of our own individuality, that aspect of being different, being you. Our point of disaster is when we throw this essential element right to the dogs, and this marks your death. The generation for whom I pen this piece is susceptible to various elements of life which later grow into a chute that determines our character. It could be good or bad. I hold it dear that the ultimate achievement a man can gain during his moments on this earth is resolute character. Character, more than wealth, health, fame, Intellect, or any other worldly

pursuit, determines whether a person is indeed great or not. With an avalanche of pursuits dwelling among us, especially we the youth, viz.: wealth, women, good jobs, fame et cetera. All these are indeed within our disposal for the taking but even then in the pursuit of all these, fueled by our physical appetites, and devoid of character, we end up losing ourselves. Individual identity underlines our character. It is an individual element, not collective. Forget your brother, sister, comrade, workmates, school mates, even your parents. It is that serious. It is all about you. Perchance most of us are afraid of being us, being different, because of the fear that you will be shelved, that you will be seen as a nonstarter, that you will be alienated, that you will be termed with so many adjectives simply because you are being you and not them. I cannot deny that you will be subjected to all the above and lest you are strong in your identity and what you believe in, what is the difference between you and the dry leaves upon a tree that follow every command of the tyrannical wind as to which direction to follow? The divine author of our being made us as individuals, never as collectives. There was certainly a reason for that, lest we debase him. Individual identity comes from the self- realization and awareness that character comes from imbibed principles that we attain during our growth. Do I have to engage in promiscuity because I am told it exposes you to different grapes from different vines? Do I have to smoke because it makes me quench my thirst? Do I have to sniff and take in a daily dose of bhang and heroine because it makes me high? Ok, let’s make this clear. All men are meant to be on the ground, to trample upon the earth until they depart it so I find it foolhardy when I am told about this hogwash of getting high. I can’t and won’t believe it till that day that I see a man or a woman who has permanently built his edifice among the firmament and floats there, literally. Only then will I believe that there are indeed some substances that makes us high, literally. The whole point am trying to make is that we do not necessarily have to do or act according to the zeitgeist-the spirit of the time. He that follows this path eventually ends up losing himself, his identity and ultimately his whole character. You end up glorifying others and belittling yourself; which I can only describe as a disease of the bonehead. Until that moment that we come to dispense with the idea that we constantly have to be like others because they are friends or co-equals, we will never discover our true individuality, which shapes our character. What you will be doing is merely living in other people’s character, not your own, which is meant to be inherent upon you, and you alone. You do not have to be indispensable to the wantonness of your peers, to be at peace with thyself lest you lose your ground, dignity, individuality, and eventually your character, which is you. Why not do something that your peers have never contemplated doing. Something like community work, being sensitive to the plight of those around you and giving a hand where you can. Why not allocate even a smidgeon of your savings or salary at the end of every month and dedicate it to a children’s home or pay or contribute towards the welfare of those destitute ones around you? It is these small things that you do that ultimately and immensely culminate into shaping your character and elevating you a step higher. I find profound satisfaction when every Saturday, after all the work during the week, I check in at a nearby children’s home for community work. This same day is the day I have dedicated to my gym and physical training but I only partake in this after my blissful sessions with the children who need

our attention. To some of us it may sound rather mundane, right? I can see you nod to affirm this. That’s alright still. But trust me, the inner satisfaction and peace that I gain after disregarding all the Friday nights out is extremely inexplicable. Further, it molds my character. I can attest that the small things that I/we do are what eventually shape our character and expose us to different spheres of life. So, choose your identity, underline and understand your individuality, develop your own dignity, and define your character.

This article was written by David Okumu, he is 27yrs old a student at the Catholic University. he is pursuing a bachelors degree in law,had previously done a diploma in the same and a diploma in PR. He is working at Advermedia CO limited which he helped set up last year. His interest in life is reaching out to the needy through volunteering, community involvement and working with the youth.


SHOEING UP THE SHOELESS

On Viatu Africa’s Facebook page you will find messages extolling faith and belief; ‘’Jesus we exalt you, your love is so amazing.” You will be forgiven for thinking that Viatu Africa is a Christian faith group. It’s not. Karol Tunduli started this initiative in January 2012 and is our first local hero for 2013! He shares his story with Two Feet Project

My name is Karol Tunduli. I was born in southern Nyanza Province, in the late 90s my family moved to western Kenya. I began my music career in 2001 singing in a local church with a group, which was known as Christiannaires. The group had four singles, one being Yesu akupenda. The song did well on the local charts bringing me to the limelight.

My life as a Christian brought seemingly unbearable serving of loss, heartache, despair, fear, pain, struggle and suffering but God taught me how to smile through it all.

Apart from music I am the founder and president of Viatu Africa, a shoe for the shoeless project. The idea came about during a visit to western Kenya, in a small village called Netima in Bungoma County. I watched my son of 3years play with other kids from the village and I noticed that all the other kids didn’t have shoes, and it just made me feel so sad that something as basic as shoes is such a luxury in some parts of Kenya. I knew I had to help children get shoes on their feet. Many diseases have been prevented by vaccine, education, improved hygiene and research, yet they still spread, sometimes the remedy is as simple as owning a pair of shoes!

Everything I do, I do under the direction of my beliefs, for I am a man of God. I have always been involved in community endeavors and with some friends we have worked with various projects for children, such as sponsoring the Good Shepherd Children Centre in Nairobi. Running charitable ministries is not easy, you always need funds, and so my partners and I in Viatu Africa Kenya have to organize events to drum up support.

We have done events in homes like Nyumbani Children’s home, mobilizing people to give food and cloths. We have done some work in kibera slums and built toilets for bethel children’s home in katwikere slums. Last year we threw a big Christmas party for many HIV infected kids in Nairobi.

However Viatu Africa still struggles to get shoes. Recently I have become aware of the need to be more in the public eye, we are currently relying onwell-wishers to donate their children’s old shoes on Facebook, but this isn’t yielding results as fast as we would like. We are rethinking our strategy and asking for help and ideas on how we can take this to the next level. Our dream is to spread this dream across Africa, providing children with shoes.

I will soon have to make a choice. This won’t take off if our attention is split, to me success is nourishing others by looking at how you can improve their backgrounds, and I believe that I will succeed.

Karol Tunduli is a born again Christian who is involved in charity work and is also a Christian music artist, a TEMA Samaritan Awards winner in 2007 and a safaricom hero 2013.He possess an IT diploma from Kenyatta university and a theological studies degree from springs bible school in Nakuru.


Life and Basketball

Just like life, success in sports calls for hard work, dedication, commitment, and team work (including tennis). I’ve grown up in an environment where sports are not taken seriously due to the fact that a big number of those taking it seriously are not doing so well financially. Are they happy doing what they are doing? Yes, they seem happy. Are they getting rewarded fully for the effort they put into what they are doing? I don’t think so or not all of them do get the full reward. Rewards disappointments aside, I love sports, particularly basketball and I believe God brought it into my life for a purpose. Before basketball, I tried playing football also known as soccer, which did not work out so well, maybe because I didn’t put in enough work out time. I was introduced to basketball back in 2002 when my sister (Bituro) suggested that I try it out since it was a cooler sport than football (everyone is entitled to his/her opinion), so I tried it out. Something that really kept me eager to learn the game was the willingness of total strangers to help out where they could at the local play ground (University of Dar es salaam basketball court), starting with the right hand layups and later on progressing to the left hand layups, then the jump-shots and so forth.

Life and basketball was not so easy, it was tough in the beginning, from sausage fingers to hustling my dad for basketball shoes, since he had so many other things to pay for, including school fees for the six children in my family. Joining high school, still fresh in the new sport of basketball wasn’t easy either, trying to learn the game and making the team, two things that did not work out simultaneously; one had to come before the other. After two long years of sausage fingers, playing in my socks, not getting picked by the older players in school and getting into trouble for coming home late, my efforts started to bear fruit, at least I was getting some playing time in pickup games. After three years of hard work, I made it into my high school team in 2004 and eventually was selected captain in 2005. Throughout my basketball journey, whatever I learned on the court has translated to the life I am living now, thanks to the support of every individual in my life, even those who thought I wasn’t good enough.

Through basketball, I have learned that nothing comes easy in life, even if it does for now, there will be debts to be paid in the future. Due to late exposure to the game of basketball, I was forced to train harder than everyone else in the team so as to catch up, this instilled in me discipline that I still use up to this moment in my life. Whenever I need to learn something, the end result motivates me to work hard, knowing that the effort will eventually pay off. Just like basketball, different situations in life have prompted me to make decisions that have changed my life.

Through basketball, I have made so many friends from all walks of life. I know I still would have made friends, but it’s different because it has happened through something that I am truly passionate about. Through my basketball experience, I am sure that my purpose in life is to touch lives through this beautiful sport, although I am yet to figure out how that is to work out. The amount of effort you put into sharpening your skills in basketball, is the amount of output you are going to get on game nights or game days (where I live,) just like life.

25 years old, that is what I will be turning on March 6 2013. Am I happy doing what I am doing? Not entirely, but it’s working out for now, so I can’t complain. I can pay my rent, I can afford a cab, I can take my girlfriend out for dinner or ice cream or a movie. My basketball journey is not yet over, that is what I truly believe because I got myself a basketball yesterday, 7 January 2013, preparing for training for the upcoming basketball season and other basketball opportunities which will be thrown my way. From what I have experienced so far, basketball has brought in more good than harm in my life, and it something I want to be involved in for a long time coming. I am currently applying for a sports management program which will equip me with the skills I need to make a bigger impact in the general sports industry in my country, region, continent and the world at large. Is it too big of a dream? No, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

 

Dadi Nyabiya Masesa is a 24 year old who currently resides in Nairobi and is working as an IT/Risk Consultant for KPMG Kenya. He loves the weather and can be found playing basketball whenever he has free time. Dadi is honored to live in a country that has, “so many unrealized and, untapped opportunities in all industries” and he’s a huge fan of the weather.