On March 21st 2018 MSJC received the Father Kaiser Award from the Law Society of Kenya. This prize was to honour the work we have been doing around extrajudicial executions. We thank you LSK for the recognition and the support and look forward to walking together for justice. See pictures below from this event.
On March 31st MSJC organized a Community Dialogue on Disability which was attended by forty people. Below a recap of Mathare’s first community dialogue on disability.
In Mathare there are an estimated 300 persons living with disabilities of different types. Many of them are unregistered and face dire situations living in the slums of Mathare. On this day five speakers were present, who addressed the challenges that people with disabilities in Mathare face and did recommendations on how some of these issues may be faced.
The first speaker was Joan Njoki from MSJC, who herself has a son that suffers from Celebral Palsy. Joan discussed the different forms of disabilities, ranging from physical to intellectual, visual, oral and developmental. These disabilities can come in mild, moderate, severe or profound forms, which all comes with different challenges. In order to give sufficient help, it is crucial for people to be informed and to know what specific disability they or their child suffer from. A main goal of this dialogue was to broaden this knowledge. Furthermore, Joan addressed the main challenges that accompanies disability, such as housing, transport, education ,employment, reproductive health issues and a lack of income generating projects for the disabled. Besides that there is a lack of diapers for children and adults, as well as medicines and orthopedic devices. The disabled are in desperate need of therapy, but the places that offer therapy or daycare are not available or reachable for everyone. On top of that many people with a disability face stigmatization within and outside the community.
However, there are some institutions that can provide therapy and nutrition for the disabled, which were also addressed during this dialogue. Therapy and nutrition is provided by German doctors in Baraka, St. Mollas in Mathare North, Salama primary school, Mathare hospital and St. Francis in Kariobangi. Ongoing therapy (also at home) and good nutrition is important, while it can relieve pain and prevent more severe complaints and worsening of the disability. It is key that people are aware of the importance of therapy and nutrition and the places where it is provided.
The second speaker was Muriuki from Salama Primary Special Unit. He discussed some of the causes of disabilities and did recommendations on how to reduce the chance of a disability or the worsening of a disability. Causes may be found pre-birth, but also after the birth of the child. Pre-birth causes may be found in the (old) age of the mother, conditions during the pregnancy (such as drinking alcohol or bad nutrition) and insufficient care given to the mother during the pregnancy. However, a disability can also have a genetic cause. A disability may also occur after birth, for instance when a sick child is neglected and healthcare is not sought in time. If a disability is not managed properly the conditions can get worse. Muriuki also emphasized that awareness of disabilities is important. Parents should be aware of the conditions and need to manage the disability better through seeking timely medical care.
Besides that, Muriuki informed the people on institutions which provide special education for people with a disability. Such as City primary (Autism), Parklands primary and Heidemarie (Celebral Palsy), Muthaiga primary (Blind), Salama (Mental disability/Down syndrome) and special school (Mental problems).
Our third speaker was Cecilia, a social worker from the Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya (APDK). Cecilia addressed how people with a disability should register with the government. When this is done, people can apply for subsidies and other forms of support (such as orthopedic support, walking aid or education subsidies) from the government. Again, Cecilia highlighted the importance of knowing what your kid is suffering from, good nutrition and ongoing therapy sessions.
Our next speaker was Liz Waithera. She informed us about the Mathare day centre, which opened on the 3rd of April. This centre offers, among other things, day care services for children with disabilities. Moreover, they aim for economic empowerment for adults through an arts and music program. If someone for instance produces art, the Mathare day centre can help them market it and help you to eventually make some money out of it. The Mathare day centre is open every week, from Monday until Friday.
Last but not least, Lucy Kabura from Rural Aid Kenya spoke about the possibility to receive higher education, partly funded by the government. There is a special consideration for people with disabilities, so they can also benefit from this option. There is also the possibility of distance learning, where you only register and pay for the exams. This can be an outcome for people with a disability, while for them it may be impossible to go towards the campus.
It can be concluded that it was a fruitful community dialogue in which many useful things have been discussed. On behalf of MSJC we would like to thank everyone who partook in this informative dialogue. MSJC dreams of an integrated and informed society and through these forums we hope to reach as many people as possible and to grow with each gathering.
Thank you for your solidarity! See some pictures below from this dialogue on disability
Joan Njoki, Jonte and Hugo
MSJC does not run without the dedication, courage and creativity of our field coordinator JJ/Kennedy Chindi. After close to two decades doing justice work, Kennedy Chindi or JJ, as he is more popularly known, won a significant majority of votes claiming the Public Choice Award at the Human Rights Award Ceremony that was help on January 26th 2018 at the Embassy of the Netherlands.
This award is a small recognition of the work JJ does tirelessly in Mathare and beyond to document and advocate on behalf of those who have been subject to human rights violations. He is always available and always sought by all. We love and value JJ immensely and are so proud of his work which, as the voting showed two Friday’s ago, is unquestionable and appreciated by all. Viva JJ! Viva Mathare! Viva MSJC! We thank you to all who showed their appreciation for JJ in this way, for helping us to celebrate his courage, love and dedication!
JJ and comrades celebrating his award at the ceremony
On Christmas Eve, a big fire broke out in Mathare slums, Kosovo, burning down close to 800 houses and leaving over a 1000 victims in the cold with barely anything left to their names. Mathare Social Justice Center (MSJC) appeals to all friends of Mathare to give both in kind (food, bedding and clothes) and/or cash donations to help the fire victims in the best way we can. MSJC will distribute the bedding, food and clothes donations, and will use the cash donations to buy more of the same to help the over 1000 people who now lack even the most basic items such as shelter and food. Kindly donate to 0728174329 (Wangui Kimari — MSJC PAR Coordinator). Any amount is appreciated. You can also drop off donations at our office on Juja Road on the ground floor of the post office/Macharia building, close to Olympic Petrol Station and Moi Air Base. Here is a google pin for the location: https://goo.gl/maps/siSsCwE9Uis
Please call JJ at 0736818798 if you would like to drop donations off or need further directions.
Below are some pictures of the fire and its aftermath.
On September 15th, we sent an urgent call for solidarity because our field mobilizer and office coordinator, JJ/Kennedy Chindi, had been arrested and detained at Huruma police station for allegedly causing a disturbance when he went to inquire about the arrest and torture of some young men from Huruma car wash who had been detained illegally.
We are happy to report that because of the solidarity we received from you all, JJ was released on the very same day! Thank you so much for your solidarity calls to the police station as well as your emails and calls to ask to inquire about JJ’s safety!
We really appreciate it all and hope to continue owrking together in love, solidarity and unity!
Kennedy Chindi (JJ) a human rights defender with Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC) was today morning arrested by Huruma Police station officers and detained at the police station allegedly for “creating disturbance.” JJ had gone to inquire about the arrest and torture of youths from Huruma Car Wash, and the police detained him for supposedly harassing them about this. JJ’s arrest is part of the malicious and systematic criminalisation of grassroots human rights defenders in Mathare that has intensified since the election outcome on 11/8/2017.
When the police responded with violence after the election results were announced, Kennedy Chindi was involved in documenting cases of victims of extrajudicial killings and police brutality in Mathare with Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Kenya Human Rights commission (KHRC)
Kennedy Chindi has been detained at the Huruma police station since 11 am today (September 15th 2017), and we are seeking your solidarity for his immediate and unconditional release.
1. Mathare Social Justice Centre (MSJC)
2. Coalition for Grassroots Human Rights Defenders (CGHRD)
3. Bunge la Mwananchi Social movement
This event organized by MSJC and its network of human rights monitors, was held on 2nd August 2017 at the CDF hall in Huruma. Twelve-year-old Joseph Mulua and his colleague Dipsy Ng’ang’a from Huruma ward, kicked off the event with a dance-off battle as people trickled into the hall. The turn-out was quite impressive as the people of Mathare began to show up in their large numbers, both male and the female. There were close to 200 people who turned up for the event. The youth were the largest group in the hall, some of them taking a break from their NYS (National Youth Service) duties to come and participate in the forum.
MSJC’s Kinuthia Mwangi took to the stage and made opening remarks while inviting representatives from Sauti Yetu and University Mtaani to introduce themselves to the community members present. Following this, two members of University Mtaani graced the stage to educate people on the dynamics of voting and what goes on at the polling stations. They educated the community on each stage of voting through the IEBC (Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission) pamphlets handed to them. Questions were asked for clarity and they were answered immediately. Leaving a general mood of good voter education happening, hoping for no or few spoilt votes in the upcoming elections on August 8th.
Huruma Ward MCA Political Accountability
The first session to kick off was the debate of the Members of County Assembly, of which two aspirants for Huruma ward showed up for the forum. These were Vincent Sisia and Alex Mburu. Upon introduction, they both mentioned the issues facing Huruma ward: sanitation, security and crime among young men. The two aspirants appeared to both acknowledge the existence of these issues. A platform was also given to the community members to ask questions to the aspirants and mention the issues they face as Huruma ward residents. Among the key issues were insecurity, health and sanitation, youth empowerment, tribalism, water inadequacy.
Sisia, on the issue of jobs for the youth, talked of young people being given jobs to clean the community environment themselves. Alex talked of following up on youth development funds to help the youth start their businesses. He also mentioned allocating the youth bursaries to study technical courses then get jobs if he was elected to office. Jobs for garbage collection would also be made available for the youth.
The aspirants were asked by members of the audience if any of them had done anything to help the youth in Huruma before running for this position, and Sisia mentioned that he had worked with the youth on wood work and carpentry. Alex Mburu responded to this by saying he had created employment of about 200 young people from Huruma ward in his matatu sacco business. A community member stood up and asked the aspirants what the position of the adults in society is, since the aspirants seemed to only be concerned with the welfare of the youth. Sisia made it clear to the audience that he would work with everyone for the betterment of the community.
A community member present asked what plans the aspirants have for the disabled people and how they intend to fight extrajudicial killings. Sisia mentioned sourcing out for donors to consider wheelchairs for the disabled people. On extrajudicial killings, he added that he would group the young people to buy them bikes for the boda boda business, as a way to keep them out of crime. Alex assured the people of inclusiveness if elected to office. He also mentioned giving civic education to the youth on avoiding drugs, crime and availing them with opportunities to earn a living.
The aspirants were asked how they intend to include the public in their leadership, and with article 104 of the constitution being quoted on the need for leaders to be held accountable and the power of the people to be able to recall back those that do not live up to their duties as leaders. They were then asked of their consent to be held accountable to the Huruma community and the possibility to be recalled back if they failed. Both the aspirants accepted the pledge. Alex persuaded the community members to also take an individual decision each to be responsible for the betterment of the community. He said, it all starts with us.
A skit was showcased on stage by Hope Entertainers group, educating the community members on tribalism and the need for peace, for a better tomorrow. Danito (an up and coming local reggae musician) took the stage to perform his reggae tunes on social justice and issues confronting the community at the grass roots level. He gave an outstanding performance.
Present were two Mathare MP Aspirants, John Wesonga and Gacheke Gachihi. They were offered a platform to introduce themselves. Gacheke seemed to have this affiliation to music on his campaign. He started with Juliani’s Utawala song and sang it through his introduction speech. The crowd joined in and sang along to the powerful lyrics.
The first issue raised to the aspirants was accessibility of office should either of them be elected to power. Wesonga assured the people of Mathare that he will be as accessible to them as he has been for the longest time now. Gacheke also made an assurance to the community members that he will remain to be available for them, while working closely with community centers to initiate projects that will benefit the community even long after his existence in power.
The floor was opened for questions from community members to the aspirants. An elderly female member of the community asked the aspirants if they intend to maintain direct communication with the people of Mathare after elected to power, or they would cut contact and disappear for five years just like their predecessors. Another member of the community also stood up and asked how the aspirants intend to help change the mental slavery that is ignorance among the people of Mathare. This was followed by yet another question on what the roles of a Member of Parliament are.
Wesonga pointed out the need for the youth to be taught on how to think beyond and set up businesses and companies. He urged the women to use their small groups and start enterprises so that the face of Mathare would change to a community of enterprises. On communication, Wesonga guaranteed never changing his phone number. He clearly put himself as the point of contact and reference for the community’s needs, that if there be any problems he can’t solve as the MP for Mathare, he can always champion for them as a leader for his duty is to his people.
Gacheke affirmed that he won’t walk away from the community activities he had been engaging in before parliament. He looks beyond communication via phone and affirmed that he will sit down with the people of Mathare often and have discussions on real issues faced, even after the elections. Gacheke urged the people to come together and work to change their own situations without awaiting outside help as self-reliance is the key first step to true freedom and development.
On their closing remarks, both candidates championed for peaceful elections and said they would be willing to accept defeat and work together, regardless of who got elected in and who did not.
Report by Wyban and Julie
See some pictures from this event below:
On August 1st, a fire in Mabatini ward burned more than 50 households. As a result, families have nowhere to call home since, and this is crucial especially during this election period. One of our own local Mathare activists Rachael Irungu lost everything, and so we are asking for support for our sister and others who suffered. Anything will help: financial support, households items and a call to check on her will be highly appreciated. Rachael Irungu can be contacted on this number: 0720649392. Some pictures from this unfortunate fire are below.
This meeting was organized by Mathare Social Justice Centre, aiming at bringing together grassroots human rights defenders in this election season, to ensure peace talks and strengthen the grass roots movement. The theme of this event was strengthening and protecting the grassroots human rights defenders movement and election agenda 2017. About 60 grass root human rights defenders showed up for this event. We had defenders from Korogocho, Dandora, Kamukunji, Kariobangi, Kayole, Utalii ward, and all the six wards of Mathare.
The event started with brief prayer from Kennedy Chindi, MSJC field coordinator. Juliet Wanjira Coordinator of the Reproductive Justice campaign then welcomed the human rights defenders and after introductions she gave a brief history of Mathare Social Justice Centre. Gacheke Gachihi , Coordinator for Political Accountability and Social Justice, then informed the defenders of the purpose and objective of the meeting. He mentioned the four wheels of building the social movement namely: community dialogues and direct action, advocacy for social justice, building of a community centre as MSJC and participating in elections through alternative political leadership in the grassroots politics. This work also includes building a supportive and safe network for grassroots human rights defenders. He spent time explaining each stage and mentioned he was in the 4th wheel of building alternative political leadership from grassroots movements, and urged other defenders to take on that route to strengthen the movement.
The we had other human rights defenders take on the floor sharing their experiences, challenges and proposals for strengthening the grass root defenders network .First was Ruth Mumbi, a grass root human rights defender from Bunge la Wamama Mashinani, who shared her experiences and challenges as a defender. She mentioned her concern about extrajudicial executions and now as a victim she understands the pain even more, and will continue speaking against it.After highlighting the killings of her younger brother by the police her life had been threatened. Mumbi stressed on the importance of loving and caring for each other and defenders and as a community. Giving each other solidarity because we all need each other. On donor fund she suggested flexibility as it always so rigid and the people on the ground often find themselves at a loss and how to go about things wanting to comply with the donor conditions.
Next to speak was Wilfred Ola from Dandora Must change Social movement. He suggested that we map out our struggles in every different ward. It was clear there were similar struggles but there were struggles that were entirely different. For example FGM is not practiced in Dandora but it is very common in Kiamaiko. Having the dumpsite in Dandora was a violation of human rights in itself which the defenders from Dandora have to struggle with. Olal urged the defenders to always remember and be on the forefront of documenting human rights violations. Going through the 5W and H documentation Formula, he also mentioned modern ways of documenting like smartphones or voice records to have substantial evidence that can be used in court and urged everyone to most importantly maintain peace during and after this election period.
Wandera from Kariobangi and Korogocho Justice Centre thanked MSJC for having brought human rights defenders from every various place together to discuss our struggles and the future of our beloved country Kenya. He stressed on the different talents present and how we can all come together to strengthen the movement specializing with what one is best capable of. He also suggested that to strengthen grass root human right defenders we must push that KNCHR (Kenya National Coalition of Human Right Defenders) and CGHRD (Coalition for Grass root Human Rights Defenders) to pressure the acknowledgement of grassroots human rights defenders by law, and also support capacity building for defenders.
Anthony Muoki, coordinator of the extrajudicial killings campaign in MSJC , spoke on the Machozi ya Jana campaign and seriousness of the risk human rights defenders constantly find themselves in. He mentioned plans that are underway to create a solidarity safe place for fellow grass root human rights defenders.
Mama Whitney, a member of Bunge La Mwananchi and Bunge la Wamama Mashinani, raised the question of how we can support each other to rescue the young men whose pictures are put on Facebook and then found dead days later killed by police. As a mother, she pointed out it’s an issue that bothers her a lot. Losing young men in the community that she has known.
MC Fred Ooko ( Tooth Brush), also addressed the defenders with a sms that had been sent to him by a distressed sister whose brother’s picture had been put on the Facebook page of wanted criminals. Olal proposed that a few defenders organize themselves and take the boy to the police station, if found guilty to be arrested and taken to court. Everyone agreed with this proposal and accepted it as standard procedure. He also suggested that we, the grassroots human rights defenders, organize a meeting with IPOA, to express our concern and develop a memorandum of association and how to best collaborate to fight extrajudicial executions.
Rachael Mwikali in relation to the day’s theme, stressed the importance of having the support of the community members in every place represented in that meeting. To fight extra judicial killings, we will need the community to understand and support the standard procedure of dealing with crime. This will spread the risk and stop the criminalization of defenders as being labelled supporters of crime. While at it, Rachael urged the defenders to talk the boys out of stealing and always remind them that crime will never pay. She spoke on the importance of the unity of defenders and suggested similar regular meetings to push the movement forward. Charles of IJM also emphasized the need to involve other stakeholders to achieve the desired effect. For example religious institutions and other key stake holders must also be part of the process.
Chekai Musa, acting speaker of Bunge La Mwananchi, thanked MSJC, for the hard work they have put in for the past two years and stressed on the importance of preaching peace during this period. It was mentioned in this meeting that they have been red signs, neighbors who have lived peacefully for the past years NOW packing to leave in anticipation for violence after elections.
Samuel Keriro, Director of Ghetto Foundation, urged grassroots human rights defenders to have the right attitude doing this job. He said he has a platform that could be used to recruit young guys as activists. They have lost brothers, friends and cousins and will always feel the pain of EJE. If shown a way of fighting it they would gladly join in. He said everyone has to take part in a changed community, even the police should be engaged with, to create a friendly relationship. Present parents were reminded to instill positive values in their children. Lastly, he invited everyone present for a peace caravan that will be taking place from Mlango kubwa to Kiamaiko. The main event will be at Austin’s ground Kiboro. Theme will be preaching peace to all and sundry, targeting the violence hotspots. MSJC members will be taking part in this event instead of our usual general meetings on Saturday.
Towards the end, Gacheke challenged Fred Ooko Tooth Brush to share songs of the struggle with the other defenders. These songs will be used in social mobilization and propagating the struggle for social justice and movement building. Gacheke also emphasized that the MSJC office can be used as a meeting place for defenders to conduct their activities, and also to come learn the freedom songs of struggle to together and deepen the struggle. Juliet and Kennedy concluded with Samora Machel’s words, Aluta Continua! Against extra judicial executions, police brutality, corruption and bad leadership, poverty, poor sanitation, tribalism and capitalism and for human rights! In between we had Danito cheer us up with his music! See some pictures from this day below.
The community dialogue was attended by 56 individuals from Mabatini ward, and it included 32 females and 24 males. It was organized by Mathare Social Justice Centre and had participants from the host’s human rights defenders network, as well as various youth groups in the area.
Below are the topics of discussion and how they were responded to:
- What are the roles of various leaders? Do you know/understand them?
Although this was the first question, the participants were very active in the conversation. Majority of them explained that they are not aware of the roles of the Women’s Representative and the power she holds, and most of them are only aware of the Jubilee and NASA aspirants and have not yet done their research on the independent candidates.
- What are your immediate needs? Has any contender addressed them?
Mama Whitney first spoke on ending extrajudicial executions around Mathare. She noted that the police have a responsibility to respect citizens and that so far there is no political aspirant who has blatantly come out to speak out on normalization of police killings.
It was then mentioned that everyone in Mathare is complaining about the Community Development Fund (CDF) projects, that on paper there are claims that certain projects have already been implemented when, however, on the ground, nothing has been done. Victor added to this by saying that some of the projects that have been implemented have actually been carried out by private individuals, such as the Chandaria Foundation, and yet the incumbent wants to take responsibility for them.
On this note, some of the participants claim to have gone for various trainings carried out by the Ward Development Fund, but that when it comes to implementation they are still blind as to where the money goes since the whole process lacks transparency.
Collins came out to admit that the youth (and everyone in Mathare) needs civic education in order to understand what to expect from the politicians according to their seats.
- From the previous election, have you seen any tangible changes? Are any of the projects implemented sustainably?
At this point, the community members got a bit angry, speaking to the state of education, sanitation and health. Lillian said that she was born and raised in Mathare but the state of the constituency seems to be deteriorating by the year.
- The current MP promised to build hospitals and that every ward will have a public toilet. There have been no tangible results to this end.
- The current MP promised to have a fire brigade in Mathare. The community remembered the fires that have broken out within Mabatini with no assistance from anyone.
- The political promise has been clean water for decades. There is currently an outbreak of cholera and the public toilets remain closed from the date they were built. The community has reverted to using ‘flying toilets’.
- Education and promises to provide jobs by K1. This is an issue that really affects the youth. They remain unattended to and majority of the youth in Mabatini and Mathare in general remain unemployed, and not out of any choice of their own.
- There is no single social hall in the whole of Mathare. In fact, the community dialogue took place in an open space with a tent and raw sewage running right next to us.
- What are you looking for in a leader?
Akinyi stood up to state that the problem with most of the people in Mathare is that they look to people with money as being good leaders. There was a bit of an argument amongst the community, with Tony insisting that most of the people will vote for whoever gives the most money; the participants need immediate solutions as well as long term ones. Vivian closed this conversation by reiterating that people will take the money because they need to survive.
The community finalised by stating that they need to be given information on those who are vying, such as their integrity and where their money is coming from. At this point, MSJC invited them to their office for conversations on this, and informed them that they are planning a political debate in their area very soon. The community was pleased to hear this and Nickodemus said they look forward to it.
Kelvin and Jamo, however, were left stating that people need to vote individuals they believe in, and not just the political parties they represent.
The dialogue ended with MSJC urging the community to confirm their voter’s status at their registered polls, and told them to vote wisely. We advised them that we need to keep peace because we are one family, that each and every vote counts, that the people have the power to choose whom they want in office. ‘Msiuze kura zenyu (Don’t sell your vote). Choose peace,’ Julie concluded emphatically.
By Maria Mutauta
See some pictures from this successful political accountability event below.