Youth Day

YOUNG PEOPLE SHOULD CONTINUE TO PUSH FOR INCLUSION IN LEADERSHIP

By Fidel Castro

Crime Si Poa celebrates young leaders in Kenya as we mark International Youth Day, amidst ongoing vote tallying exercises after the conclusion of the country’s general elections. Youth representation availed during these general elections will help shift the paradigm that has been for years, where the older generation is perceived to “own” the political echelon.

The youth should be empowered, encouraged and supported to occupy more elective positions. Political systems should review their structures to allow youth representation, which is presently not the reality among most African nations. When young people are disenfranchised or disengaged from political processes, a significant portion of the population has little or no voice or influence in decisions that affect group members’ lives.

To make a difference in the longer term, it is essential that young people are engaged in formal political processes and have a say in formulating today’s and tomorrow’s politics. Inclusive political participation is not only a fundamental political and democratic right but also is crucial to building stable and peaceful societies as well as developing policies that respond to the specific needs of younger generations. Young people to be adequately represented in political institutions, processes, and decision-making, and in particular in elections, they must know their rights. Young people should also be given the necessary knowledge and capacity to participate in a meaningful way at all levels. As much as we are having intense debates on the empowerment of women to occupy both elective and appointive positions as buttressed by the Kenyan 2/3 gender rule, we should also see robust, deliberations to bridge the gap that is currently at play vis a vis national governance.

Kenya is a young nation with a fast-growing democracy where great embargos are scattered on the way to realizing this beautiful and inclusive end can be realized. In such an atmosphere where there are obstacles to participating in formal, institutionalized political processes, young people can rapidly feel disempoweredMany tend to believe that their voices are not going to be heard or they will not be taken seriously even if they are heard. This in turn leads to young people being increasingly excluded from taking part in decision-making, or in debates about key socio-economic and political issues. This is despite social equity, justice, environmental protection and cultural diversity demands. This, therefore, cuts short the process of achieving sustainable development goals.

However, throwing in the towel is not the solution, the young generation that forms a larger percentage of the nation’s population, should soldier and maximize the available opportunities to gather the required muscles to break through the web of political exclusion. Nations that we admire today walked through this path and achieved.

SGBV

Sexual and Gender-Based Violence So Pervasive in Kenya

Have you ever wondered how it feels like to be a girl or a woman in Kenya? Despite exceptional contributions to society, girls and women suffer non-equivalently. Gender and sexual-based violence is a problem that is rampant amongst us. The African culture endorses SGBV and ownership of the female gender. The African cultural nature has also made demands that women be submissive. 

Recently in Kisumu, Crime Si Poa (CSP) team dealt with a case of a 70-year-old retired teacher who was arrested after it was discovered that he has been defiling three 13-year-old girls. Lucy, one of the pupils was groomed and used by the culprit to lure the other two pupils to the house of the culprit where he defiled them.  

The man was caught when one of the pupils did not make it home that night. The worried mother, of the minor, went fetching for her in school the following day, where she found her. After interrogation by the mother and her teacher, the terrified student revealed that Lucy took them to the perpetrator, who defiled them. The matter was reported to the area police station, unfortunately, the culprit could not be detained since he “fell ill” and had been admitted to a hospital. 

As I author this article, the girls are being taken through counselling and the perpetrator is still sadly walking free. Let us face it, reporting SGBV cases is a subject that brings judgment and victimization to the victims. Society has taught us if a woman is assaulted it is their fault.  

The cycle continues, and before we even deal with the first case, another case yet of another 13-year-old girl Mitchelle Wanjeri, a class six pupil at Mwariki Primary School is unveiled, this time in Nakuru County. Wanjeri faced two attempted defilement incidences. In one of the henious incidents, the perpetrator (the alleged neighbour’s husband) tried forced penetration using fingers. 

Despite the matter being reported to the authorities and relevant government officials, no actions have been taken against the perpetrator. Her mother has been unsupportive even after several accounts of being summoned, she has refused to show up and an arrest warrant was issued to her for neglecting parental duties. The mother has since been missing in action prolonging the chance of getting Mitchell the justice deserved. Our efforts to get Mitchelle a rescue centre to protect her from the abusive environment have not bored any fruit.  

Sadly, Mitchelle lacked support documents, which include medical and police reports needed to be able to be admitted to the Clabrin Shelter a rescue centre based in Nakuru. Her mother interfered with previous reports claiming her child is a liar and a prostitute. Just like the other cases mentioned above, this case is still pending and stuck at the police.  

Gender-based violence creates unpredictability in young girls. Women and girls live at the mercy of sexual predators who treat them with disdain and subject them to unspeakable violence. This same society is quick to question even the innocence of children when it comes to the subject of gender-based violence.  

Some women are also partly to blame as they encourage and promote these archaic patriarchal ideologies as in the case of Mitchelle. Women have been degraded, gagged, humiliated, and stripped away of their dignity over time in such a way that they decide to suffer in silence. 

Society does not know how to take responsibility thus we shift the blame to the victims. Perhaps, she seduced the assailant, no, what she wore led to her being raped, she drank too much she deserved it, she is lying she just wants to cause trouble. “If she is beaten, she incited it, if she is raped, she invited it” Gloria Steinem 

For how long is society going to tolerate the way in which our young girls are abused, and their childhoods robbed from them? How long do we always have to wonder how high our girls can fly before the monsters and predators get to them and ruin their lives? 

Victims are always blamed by those who hold power in the community. Powerful perpetrators get to frame the narrative of violence by frustrating any efforts made to fight SGBV.  

It is time to sensitize society on violence against women and change the narrative on violence toward women. As a society, we have lost empathy and the spark that makes us human. We must start seeing the need of valuing and protecting one another. 

Paralegal Graduation

Paralegals Graduate with skills to foster Justice at the community level

Over 65 community paralegals in Kisumu and Vihiga counties have been awarded certificates after successfully completing a three-week paralegal training that has empowered them with legal skills to promote access to justice in their respective communities.

Under the Access to Justice program, the sheria mashinani project is aimed at bridging the legal gap existing among the underserved communities due to poverty and ignorance of the law. 

Speaking during the event held on Thursday, August 4, 2022, at Mama Grace Social hall in Kisumu, Sylvia Morwabe, Programs Manager, Access to Justice said a  lot of people in the communities get in trouble because they have little knowledge of the law. 

“The purpose of this training is to impact and empower community members especially the youth with legal skills and knowledge to increase access to justice.  The community paralegals will help the community better understand what the law entails and guide them on how to demand for better services and get help in times of crisis,”  explained Sylvia.

According to Hon. Justice Joel Ngugi, only 21 percent of Kenyans have access to the courts as a primary source of justice. He urged the group of paralegals to demystify the idea that justice can only be found in the courts and work to reactivate the exciting community justice systems to ensure easy access to justice.

“As we celebrate this milestone I call upon this team to be missionaries of justice  to ensure that justice can be accessed by all,” urged Hon. Justice Ngugi.

Crime Si Poa Chairperson, Wilfred Nderitu, accentuated the importance of conducting the training in underserved communities by pointing out the existing gaps and the role the team will play in addressing them.

“You are coming in to bridge a gap that has been there due to ignorance, poverty and bureaucracy by assisting those who don’t know their legal rights or lack access to a lawyer to attain justice,” He said.

County Criminal Investigation Officer (CCIO) Francis Wanjua urged paralegals to play the role of being a community guardian by utilizing the knowledge learned to guide those around them to stand for their rights. Stating that a trained society is easy to deal with.

“ We appreciated the work Crime Si Poa is doing in empowering young people to act as peer counsellors and reaching out to fellow youth who are the most affected by crime. I urged the youth to be ambassadors of peace in the coming election week,” said Njau.

Within just a few months the impact of the training has already manifested itself with the majority of the paralegals attesting to the role they have played in aiding community members access justice. Isaiah Munyala, one of the graduates, described how he has helped educate and advise different community members on arising issues, noting that the majority of his community is ignorant of the law.

“ So far, we have been able to advise on at least three different cases, one of which was successful. We can attribute this to the intensive training we have received from Crime Si Poa team,” he said proudly.

Michael Bala, another graduate, could not hold his excitement as he explained the positive influence the training has had.

“Before the training, I did not know the legal procedures to follow when dealing with child neglect and SGBV cases which are recurrent in my community.  Since the training I have been able to assist in multiple cases that have helped many families get justice,’ he expressed,


Peace Walk

May we dwell in Unity, Peace, Love and Liberty

By Fidel Castro

Have you ever wondered why the voice groaning for peace is so loud? Have you ever wondered why this thing, peace, is presented as a priceless jewel whose value cannot be quantified? What is peace and what does it hold to humanity and society?

I know these are some of the questions that have been lingering in your mind, don’t worry, you’re not alone, I have also been thinking through those lines and that is why my pen has decided to settle this matter.

This is not exaggerated talk; neither is it a pep talk. It is the cry of many Kenyans who would want to live a normal life, because in the event when there is no peace, life is never normal. I can’t imagine you shelving off those family treats, those evening walks as the sun is travelling west, shelving the fun moments you religiously have with friends randomly, pale kwa base, I can’t imagine.

The beauty we so much adore in our country, the life we value, the tremendous infrastructural development, the flowers that are blossoming outside your house, along the walk paths, inside Uhuru Park, are in existence because for the last 5 years there has been peace.  

We are just 8 days to elections and just like waters flow never to return to their source, elections will come and go. However, one is for sure, elections will always leave a mark that we will always point to for the next five years. These marks can be positive or negative.

The marks of the last general elections are present with us. It is therefore undeniable that elections will always leave a mark. I remember with nostalgia, the year 2007, what a horrific time we found ourselves in. The tales of that time are as fresh as a daisy. The gory scenes and very terrifying period we had in Kenya.

The wounds of that time are visible only the blind can not see and only the callous cannot relate. Those with their voter’s cards, left their homes to exercise their democratic rights, not knowing what was awaiting them, people left their homes with plans of coming back to wrap up the unfinished business, little did they know that their fellow tribesmen were set ready to instigate violence.

2022 is here, August 9th is fast approaching, and the day is coming at a supersonic speed, what’s chasing after this day? It will come and will generously allow us the opportunity to exercise our democratic right.

Vote for peace. I know we are told that history repeats itself, yes, but also, we can recreate our own history. It must not always be as it was before.

As days keep unfolding, we grow and as a snake moult for example scraping the edges of its mouth against a hard surface until the outer layer sheds and begins to fold back around its head, so should we allow ourselves to shed off the outer layers?

The layers that push us to hit hard our neighbours, our tribesmen, our community mates, and those we share with the same amenities. I am glad various political factions believe that people have the power to make choices. Let us harness that power that resides within us and choose peace.

I need peace, you need peace, we all need peace.

Peace Walk In Rongai

Peace caravan ahead of August 9 polls

Crime Si Poa this Saturday joined government officials, Kajiado County residents and other stakeholders in a peace caravan that aimed at fostering peace ahead of the August 9 general elections.

The peace caravan, organized by the Deputy County Commissioner, Kajiado North Chiefs, Beacon of Hope, Kajiado North Peace Ambassadors, and Crime Si Poa, transverse the larger parts of Kajiado county, from Ngong, Matasia, Kiserian, Ongata Rongai to Kware conducting civic education and awareness to promote peace and unity.

Speaking during the event Irene Were, Programmes Manager Crime Si Poa, called for community members to embrace peaceful co-existence before, during and after polls especially now that we have one week remaining to the elections.

“I would like to second what the speakers have said, your neighbour will remain to be your neighbour even after elections. Let us maintain peace throughout this electioneering period. Politics should not divide us,” said Irene.

Patrick Mwangi, Deputy County Commissioner added that the government is keenly monitoring the happenings in the region to avoid instances of chaos. He further called on Kajiado County residents to maintain peace and unity despite being a very competitive race.

“ in every election, we have winners and losers but that should not trigger violence even if there are those who lose feel dissatisfied with the outcome. We all have our lives to live, elections come and go, when we negate peace, even the things that we value so much will lose their values,” He said.

Paralegal Training

Celebrations as 40 Inmates Graduate as Paralegals

Celebrations at the Nairobi West Prison as 40 inmates graduated today as paralegals after a 2-week training under the Crime Si Poa, Access to Justice Program. The remand and convicted inmates have been awarded certificates after successfully completing the customized training aimed at equipping them with legal knowledge and skills to assist them as well as their colleagues in accessing justice.

“I am glad to be one of those graduating today. This not only gives us hope but also helps close the criminal justice gap. I feel like a lot needs to be done as far as crime awareness is concerned. Many inmates do not know which acts are considered criminal and which acts are not. Little effort has been put in place to ensure people get the knowledge on crime hence such initiatives as this are much needed in prisons, ” said an inmate (name concealed).

According to Sylvia Morwabe, Programs Director at Crime Si Poa, most inmates in Kenya do not have access to legal representation which adversely affects their trials. The training will thus help the inmates navigate the justice system better leading to fewer miscarriages of justice and wrongful convictions.

“Big congratulations to all graduates for successfully completing the set course. This has been an interactive class. With paralegal skills, the inmates will have an understanding of the law to ensure they get just and fair trials,” said Morwabe.

The training curated and conducted in partnership with the Law Clinic of Strathmore University covered key areas of the criminal justice system, including legal areas such as the trial process, essentials of a fair trial, law of evidence, appeals & reviews, amongst others.

“I appreciate Crime Si Poa for this initiative. There is great importance attached to how you present and conduct yourself while in court. Through the program, inmates have been equipped effectively in order to effectively handle their cases. We ask for more reading materials in order to advance this initiative in prison,” said Regional Commander, Henry Kisungu.

Speaking during the awarding ceremony, Deputy Public Prosecutor in the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions Ms.Emily Kamau, applauded the graduates for the milestone achieved in attaining legal know-how and encouraged them to continue with the pursuit to learn more.

“I have seen many people who have built successful careers having gone through prison. We know of Nelson Mandela among others. It, therefore, does not mean that this is the end, there is still a future for you all. ” She said.

Paralegal Training

DOES THE LAW MATTER FOR THE POOR IN SOCIETY 

Does the law only work for the rich? This is a statement that is often used among Kenyans and the majority of Africans in countries where access to justice is a nightmare. The years of constant injustice experienced by individuals and as captured by the media help brew this perception. For a very long time, many people have had to grapple with the idea that knowledge of the Law is utterly useless. 

Testaments from Inmates in various prisons that we work in have proved this statement to be untrue. The despair that comes with the lack of understanding of court proceedings, magistrate ruling and the impact of the sentence on their lives is heartbreaking.  

Unfortunately, due to an overburdened justice system, many accused persons often lack proper representation and are left to represent themselves in court, resulting in a miscarriage of justice. Many of them are left wishing they had done things differently in court, however only a few get that chance.  

As we continue to advocate for reforms in the criminal justice system, to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and their rights are protected, we also aim to educate incarcerated persons in different prisons on the law. Crime Si Poa (CSP), through the Access to Justice Program, spearheaded paralegal training in Nairobi West prison where 40 inmates have successfully trained for 1 week and are set to graduate today with legal skills.  

The much-needed training set to take place in over ten prisons CSP works in will enable inmates to effectively defend themselves to positively influence their ruling. The training which entails trail advocacy, writing appeals and reviews, court procedures, and sentencing will prepare remandees as they proceed with their trial processes.  

The paralegal training is also extended into the community, where CSP sensitizes members of the community on the importance of knowing the law and teaches them what the law entails, so that they may know how to live in its confines and learn the diverse ways to resolve conflict aside from the court to avoid prolonged cases.  

ICT Rongai

TAPPING INTO DIGITAL SKILLS TO CURB CRIME IN RONGAI

By Fidel Castro

ICT Graduation – Rongai

20 youth beneficiaries in Rongai, Kajiado County have graduated with digital livelihood skills after a three-months training by Crime Si Poa. The ICT training was conducted in a bid to engage youth with innovative skills, consequently, curbing high crime rates in the area.  

This is the second cohort that has successfully been equipped with relevant computer skills through the Digital Livelihood Project under the large umbrella of the Social Enterprise Program. Through the project, the youth have had an opportunity to acquire relevant techniques that will succour them in their daily lives.

“We greatly appreciate Crime Si Poa for this initiative, our children have not wandered away in crime and drug abuse, because they were engaged by this program, may God bless you Crime Si Poa,” said Leah, a parent of one of the graduates.

AJIRA Digital Coordinating Officer, Antony Chege, made outstanding remarks encouraging the youth to soldier on the path to acquire more knowledge on digital skills and possibly venture into online work.

“Do not settle at this, keep pushing to acquire more. Currently, almost everything is digitized, you, therefore, need these skills at your figure tips in order to have an upper hand,” said Chege, adding, “There are many legalized profit-making platforms available online, it will do you good to join such platforms and earn your own money with the skills that you have.”

Beyond this, the program seeks to engage young people to reduce the high rate of idleness in the community which redounds to an opportunity of engaging in crime and criminal activities.

According to Phanice Kimutai, Digital Livelihood Project Officer, Crime Si Poa’s greatest motivation is to reach the entire community with the anticrime message. Apart from preparing the youth for a technical world, the organization also empowers young people to be heralds of the anticrime message.

“After this auspicious graduation, sell the anti-crime message far and wide, let people see its breadth and length, let them feel its depth and its height to the end that our community becomes crime-free,” concluded Phanice.  

Street Talk Rongai

STREET CONVERSATIONS ON PEACE KICK OFF IN RONGAI

By Fidel Castro

We are at a time when the political anxiety in the country has taken a worrying trajectory, with a rigorous campaign trail and a fast-approaching general election. With such a trend, Crime Si Poa has taken an initiative to engage the youth and members of the society in a street talk on crime and peace ahead of the August general election, in a bid to avert the possibility of violence.

This month the street conversation has been held along the Kware and Mandazi Streets in Ongata Rongai, Kajiado County. Encountering members of society, mostly the youth, has been an eye-opening expedition. We have come across raw issues affecting the community and what would be the reason for unrest in such a time.

 As we traversed the streets of Rongai, it was evident from our interactions that most citizens are pro-peace. They are trying as much as they can to keep calm. However, the mood set by political leaders in the country is to push communities to fight each other to gain political mileage.

“We are peace-loving people, no one wants to cause chaos, we are trying to sensitize ourselves not to cause chaos before, during and after the elections to avert our businesses from being affected by violence,” said Godana, one of the young business people in Rongai, adding “We urge our political leaders to caution themselves against using divisive statements in political rallies. This is what anger supports from different political factions and eventually causes violence.”

Entrepreneurs and business owners lauded the effort by Crime Si Poa to ensure a crime-free society, sighting the urgent need for expanding the good work to the interior parts of Rongai where crime has exasperated.

“I appreciate the work you are doing in our community; indeed, we should keep calm during this electioneering period and continue with our businesses after the elections are done,” Stephen Kenyatta, a garbage collector in Ongata Rongai.

According to the youth and the community members, most youth-related crimes during this electioneering period stem from the lack of job opportunities. The issue of unemployment continues to be a risk to the vision of attaining peace.

“The government should look out for the youth and give us jobs or at least create the opportunities. We are ready to do any work. The youth as well should take personal initiative and create opportunities for themselves.,” Allan Ngare, a business owner.

Crime si Poa continues spreading the peace message through available platforms at whatever cost for we believe that peace is a jewel worth paying the price for.

peace walk

1200 KENYAN YOUTH COVER A 600KM WALK FOR PEACE

By Fidel Castro

Peace Walk in Nairobi CBD

Over 600 Kilometers were covered, with 12 counties across Kenya visited in 21 days, full of sweat, hunger, thirst, pain, joy, and finally fulfilment. This is the tail of the 1200 peace ambassadors who began their journey on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, preaching peace from Kakamega and culminating it with the final stretch at Sarakasi Dome in Nairobi.

Despite the long trek having a myriad of challenges and a couple of humbling moments, the final stretch was home. The young Kenyas led by a team of 5, took up a rigorous campaign in such a demanding political season. 

According to Yvonne Murugi, one of the members of the Peace Ambassadors Kenya, completion of the peace walk was made possible by the immense support they got from well-wishers and partnering organizations may it be in-kind, financial, or motivation. 

“Completing 600KM huge milestone for all peace champions across the country. Finishing the last mile was made possible by donations, support,  d goodwill from Kenyans. We were highly motivated by the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower, “We seek peace, knowing that peace is the climate of freedom,” said Murugi. 

Murugi further stated that with the fast-approaching general elections, a lot is expected from every citizen in the realization of the county having peaceful elections. 

“Peace is an invaluable asset, it can only be guaranteed by everyone playing their role. As peace ambassadors, we are doing our part of spreading the peace word across the nation. As a law-abiding citizen do your part,” added Murugi. 

Speaking during the awarding of the medals at Sarakasi Dome, Dr. Vincent Makokha, Director, Chaplaincy Counselling Psycho-Social Support, Kenya National Police Service assured the youth of their support as they continue spreading the message of peace. 

“As the National Police Service Kenya, we are proud of you. To fellow officers in the service, thank you for supporting young people throughout the entire stretch of the long walk by ensuring their security is taken care of to complete this noble cause,” said Dr. Makokha adding “We appreciate the great gesture from the church as well, your support contributed immensely to ensuring the young people are motivated to complete the tough walk.”   

He also expressed the need for the mainstream media to be present in such campaigns. “My call to the media is to tell the world of the great things the young people are doing. Stop showing the negative aspect only. This is one of the greatest ventures of this year by the youth. The youth is a huge investment in this County,” he lamented. 

Prof Joseph Galgalo, Bishop, Anglican Church of Kenya, lauded the efforts put in place by the young generation in spreading the message of peace, contrary to the norm of young people being commonly known for instigating and causing violence. 

“There are people who are giving hope, standing for peace and saying things can be different, things can be better and they have come together, particularly this group Peace ambassador of Kenya, to do several activities to sensitize the youth not to be used, and not to cause in conflict or violence Peace and unity in their communities,” said Prof. Galgalo. 

While receiving the peace walk flag from the peace ambassadors, Jacob Ouma, Deputy County Commissioner, Starehe reminded the audience of the terrible ordeal Kenyans find themselves in after every five years. The perilous and gory times when tribal conflicts and killings are usually on the rise and the pain of those times. He pleaded with everyone to carry the message of peace to their respective neighborhoods.

“We have a beautiful nation, only a fool can break down and distort such a beauty. We all have a stake in this nation and must protect it jealously.  No one should distance themself from this venture. Let us hold our hands together and push to the end. When we attain a peaceful environment all of us will be at peace. ,” the DCC concluded.