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How Women Are Effecting Change in Kenya’s Kasigau Corridor

It is well known that women are more likely to invest in their communities than men, and that a developing country that invests in women advances quicker and further. What is amazing is to see this phenomena occur in a society, as I did last month in Kenya.

As part of my work documenting Audi’s carbon offset program, I flew to the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project in the southeastern part of Kenya. Like in many parts of Africa, women are generally considered second class citizens. But in the Kasigau Corridor, they are creating systemic change that, in turn, is protecting the land.

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Income is a huge issue in the corridor. Slash and burn farming, the deforestation of the land for charcoal, and elephant poaching all provide quick sources of income for families in need, particularly the men responsible for support. Unfortunately, the income is not sustainable and fleeting at best.

The long-term impacts are many. The land is ravaged, meaning less economic opportunity. There is a resulting downward spiral that creates a desperate situation in the home.

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As a result, women often find themselves in suffering households with many risks ranging from HIV/AIDS to extreme poverty. That is why their role in the Kasigau Corridor’s recovery is so amazing.

The Power of Kenyan Women

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Women’s groups in Kasigau Corridor are one of the leading solutions ushering in sustainable change in the region. The loosely knit associations of women engage in entrepreneurial activities like producing arts and crafts sold in the U.S. through the auspices of REDD+ Project manager Wildlife Works. In all, there are 26 registered women’s groups in the Corridor, touching 550 women or 4% of the overall population.

With the resulting money women are building clean water tanks, buying solar lights and clean cook stoves for their households, and providing an education for their children. Husbands see the positive impact on their households and encourage their wives’ newfound roles in the Kasigau community.

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These Marasi Primary School girls are dressed up for a traditional dance ceremony to celebrate World Environment Day. They have a chance for a different future than their mothers, thanks to the changes occurring in the Kasigau Corridor.

The impact is far more than numerical though. Each woman has her own story of renaissance. And each story impacts handfuls of others, creating a spreading boon of positivity and economic growth in the Kasigua Corridor.

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Saum Chaka (above) is a member of the Neema Women’s Group, which has been operating since 2011. The group helped her out when a windstorm destroyed her house. She and her six children had nowhere to go, so the group put up funds to house her and her family while the home was being rebuilt.

The Neema Group has 15 women in total, and they often help each other out in times of need. They make their money by selling young trees, creating paper from elephant dung, and making beautiful jewelry. Some projects the women have taken on include building a water tank for their community (which ended a five-mile walk for water) and sending their children to school.

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Jenliza Mwikamba (above) is part of the 32-member, 10-year-old Bungule Women’s Group. She said her house was made of grass and leaky, and that her kids did not have beds and were not attending school. Now there is a metal roof over her house, and her children sleep in beds and are in secondary school. She and the other women in Bungule make money by weaving and selling colorful baskets.

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A third women’s group features opportunities for women who have suffered injuries or are handicapped. The Bugata Disabled and Handicapped Group produces stuffed animals for the Wildlife Works markets.

The Overall Impact

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Women’s groups are powerful, but they are not completely open. A woman must be invited to participate, and participate she must. If a woman does not show up and meet her obligations, she is asked to leave.

While the groups are a primary source of revenue for women, there are additional opportunities. The Wildlife Works Ranger Corps has added women to its staff in its efforts to protect the forest from slash and burn farming and charcoal burning, as well as its wildlife inhabitants from poachers. Other women have joined the Wildlife Works eco-charcoal making team.

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There are many, many levers that are changing the course of the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project area’s future. It is clear that women are one of the most powerful ones.

When I consider that their reach touches more than 10% of the region, it is clear that the home improvements, education and general living improvements are lifting the morale of the region. I think these levers are a primary reason people are friendly and welcoming in Kasigau. Life is improving and the future looks brighter.

Disclosures: Audi paid me to visit Africa and capture content as part of a larger documentary project that will be released this Fall. Audi supports Wildlife Works as part of a carbon offset program that compensates for the manufacturing and the first 50,000 gas driving miles of the new A3 e-tron. All photographs are by me, the author, Geoff Livingston.

Source; Huffingtonpost Geoff Livingston

 

Make a Rhino, Save a Species

Saving the northern white rhinos isn’t just about species conservation, it’s about safeguarding wild species for future generations. We, therefore, remain committed to saving this species no matter how long it takes.

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We want to raise £0.5m ($0.8m) to develop the IVF techniques needed for a new generation of northern white rhino to be born.

GoFundMe will make currency conversions or you can use our  USD Paypal account here.  For press enquiries, please contact elodie.sampere@olpejetaconservancy.org , +254 727 341 612
or jan.stejskal@zoodvurkralove.cz , +420 608 009 072

On Monday, July 27th Nabiré, a female northern white rhino at Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic passed away. With the sad and recent deaths of Suni and  Angalifu since the end of 2014, there are now just four northern white rhino left in the world.  It could be the end of a species.
Credit: Khalil Baalbaki/ZOO Dvur Kralove

Sudan (named after his birth-place but living in Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya) is the last northern white male in existence, and at 42 is in advanced old age for a rhino.  The chances of him successfully mating are close to zero.
Credit: Ian Aitken

The only hope now is to develop assisted methods of reproduction to allow new northern white rhino calves to be born.  Given the age and reproductive health issues that affect the remaining females, we are exploring in vitro fertilization and an embryo transfer. We aim to combine eggs from the remaining females with stored northern white sperm to create embryos that can be carried by surrogate southern white females.

This has never been successfully carried out with rhinos before.  It will be costly – we are working towards £0.5m (approx. $0.8m).  It could take 12-36 months of research to develop the new techniques required. There are no guarantees of success.  But if we are successful, we will save a species.

You might well ask:  “Why bother?” or “Most species have gone extinct over time, what’s the problem?” or  “Couldn’t this money be better spent on other threatened species, including black rhino?”

We wish we could give you the ultimate answer but beyond sheer, inspirational beauty, the maintenance of global biodiversity and the chance to see wild rhinos roaming free in central Africa at some stage in the future, we can’t.
Credit: Erico Hiller

However, when you consider the value of this magnificent species please consider:

£0.5m (approx. $0.8m) to save a species for now, for your children and for your children’s children…

Versus the same amount to buy…

16 m2 of real estate in Monaco (172 square foot), or
62,500 space hoppers, or
One Lamborghini, or
43 Methuselah bottles of 1990 Cristal Brut Millennium cuvée , or
5 and a bit, Supercharged Range Rover SVR Sports, or
Half of an Xten, Pininfarina designed office chair

Please see foot of this page for links to sources.

Feel free to share in your comments any more crazy comparisons as to how £0.5m ($0.8m) could be spent compared to saving a species.

Please contribute and help us make a new baby northern white rhino. Any and all funds raised here will go directly to the northern white rhino programme.

For more information please contact Richard Vigne, CEO of Ol Pejeta Conservancy, or Jan Stejskal, Director of International Projects at Dvur Kralove Zoo, by simply posting a message to this Go Fund Me page.

——-

Important information:

There is no guarantee of success.  We could spend this money and fail.  But we hope that you will agree that it is worth trying.

Even if we do succeed it could take us much, much longer than the time frames we are hoping for as outlined above.

We estimate that we need to raise £0.5m (approx. $0.8m) before fees to make this work but we could be wrong – we could need more and would continue fundraising.

Should any funds remain after success or failure, then the committee set up to safeguard the northern white future will reinvest those monies into protecting the world’s remaining rhino species.

The northern white rhino programme is administered by a committee comprised of the Kenya Wildlife Service, the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, Dvur Kralove Zoo and the Ministry of Environment in the Czech Republic, and Back to Africa with support from Fauna and Flora International and the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.

The northern white rhino is technically recognised as a subspecies by IUCN AfRSG. For simplicity we have chosen to communicate this campaign under the banner of ‘Save a Species’ in recognition that northern white rhino genetics are uniquely adapted to their habitats and are subsequently irreplaceable and we believe invaluable.

This campaign has been set up by Robert Breare and Jan Stejskal. Robert is Chief Operating Officer of Ol Pejeta Conservancy, home to three of the last four northern white rhino. Jan is Director of International Projects at Dvur Kralove Zoo, owner of all four remaining northern white rhinos. Their identity can be confirmed by checking out LinkedIn here  and here  or staff pages on OPC  or DK Zoo website .  GoFundMe also runs extensive verification checks.

Sources:

Banner image: Credit Jan Stejskal

http://www.gofundme.com/makearhino

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Raising Hope: The Angel Centre

What sane mother would abandon their baby? Is this person without a conscience? Does she not have a heart? could it be that she is simply evil?! We had so many questions when we got there. Questions that, truth be told, we may never get answers to…nevertheless one can’t help but wonder.

I had heard stories before and at an early age seen cases, of children dumped into dumpsites, on streets, on hospital facilities, in bushes or into pit- latrines. However over Easter weekend, these stories became too real. Holding these little angels in our hands, feeding them their formula, it was simply incomprehensible how these precious beings could have undergone so much pain and suffering, within such a short period of life.

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In my arms was this adorable bundle of joy, Alexander, with his appetite in check he hurriedly finished his bottle of formula within a number of minutes, as if to show who was the best feeder among the ‘siblings’. Alex’s story, like all of the others, is a sad one. With just a few hours in this cruel cruel world, the poor boy was stuffed into a sack like pieces of old clothes and dumped into a pit latrine. He was lucky enough to get rescued before it was too late.

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cute little Alex after feeding

Abandonment breaches all fundamental parental roles of providing
nurturance, protection and guidance to one offspring, particularly during the most vulnerable stages of their lives, and that is why one wonders how a mother could inflict such pain and suffering on her own child. These things that could not be provided to them by their parents, Angel Center has committed to provide.
Founded by Wamaitha Mwangi, Angel Center for abandoned children  which is based in Dagoretti seeks to provide Basic human rights, Love & affection, Medical care, Complementary therapy, Good nutrition and most importantly, a place that these precious beings can call home until they find their long term families.
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Taking care of 27 or so kids, is a full time job that can only be described as a calling. Not that many people could commit to giving their all to children that are not their own. Babies are a gift from God and as helpless as they are, we commend the work that Angel Center is doing to give them “a fresh start”.
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When we arrived for our playdate with the kids on Easter Monday, the mum’s were busy getting them ready; bathing and feeding them. Unfortunately at the time, some of the kids had come down with chicken pox so the younger one’s had to be kept separate from the older ones to avoid contacting the same. That didn’t stop us from enjoying our time with the Kids though. We played, danced, snacked together, and had loads of fun.
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While there, one of the kids was on his way out. Off to start a new chapter with his new loving family. Although oblivious of the fact that he wasn’t going to come back to Angel Center, the joy expressed on his face was enough confirmation that he was going to be just alright. In case you are looking to adopt or sponsor a child feel free to get intouch with the Angel Center.
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We had an amazing time with the kids at Angel Center. If we could carry them home, we would have ( they are so cute!!!). Nevertheless, despite not being able to understand how an otherwise sane mother could carry to term her baby only to abandon and in some cases kill,  desperation can never explain the “leave to let die” abandonment. Any sane mother, no matter how desperate her situation, will look for a caring place to leave her baby.

Dumping and abandoning newborns is a crime. There must be a law stiffly penalizing mothers for this.

That said, we don’t know the circumstances that led to these kids’ abandonement. Perhaps we’ll never know the full story. We can only thank God that people like Wamaitha and the ladies at the home exist. Because of them, these little miracles have a place to call home and a chance at a good life.

Silver Whisper: See the interior of the world class cruise ship that docked in Mombasa on Sunday Morning with 394 Tourists

Sunday morning, the tourism sector received a major boost after 394 tourists arrived at Mombasa aboard a cruise ship.

The tourists from different countries, many of them United States citizens, were to spend one day visiting tsavo national park, shimba hills among other tourist destinations at the coast before embarking on their journey yesterday.

The cruise ship is sailing across the indian and atlantic oceans on a tour around the world.

We take a look at the Interior of the Mv Silversea Whisper, the cruise ship that brought much optimism to the countries tourism industry. Not only does it have the amenities of a grand resort but also the charms of a stylish boutique hotel.

Guests at Silver Whisper get to enjoy world-class accommodations, pampering treatments of an expanded wellness spa, shopping at the hottest trends from top designers at its boutiques and much much more.

Silver Whisper luxury cruise ship has it all.

SUITES

Vista Suite

Terrace Suite

 Veranda Suite
Medallion Suite
Silver Suite
Royal Suite
Grand Suite
Owner Suite
DINING
Pool Bar & Grill

La Terrazza

The Restaurant

Le Champagne

PUBLIC AREAS

Fitness Centre

Panorama Lounge

Pool Deck

Reception

Show Lounge

The Bar

Boutiques

The Spa at Silversea

Casino

Beauty Salon

Connoisseur’s Corner

Internet Cafe

Library

A Glimpse of Kenyan History Through Pictures

Kenyan History

The foundation of the modern day Kenyatta Avenue was laid down by one James Kerr Watson an architect and the owner of the huge Donholm Farm, which was where the estate with the same name stands today in Nairobi. The road was then known as 6th Avenue before it’s name changed to Delamere Avenue. After independence, the road was named after the President Mzee Kenyatta to the current name of Kenyatta Avenue.

Photo of Kenyatta Avenue in 1911. (Photo courtesy of Caroline Kere) Photo of Kenyatta Avenue in 1911. (Photo courtesy of Caroline Kere)

The McMillan Memorial Library was established as a private library in 1931 in memory of philanthropists Lord William Northrop Macmillan and wife Lucie. Lprd MacMillan was the owner of the vast Juja Farm near Thika. The McMillan Memorial Library became public in 1962.

The Macmillan Library with the Jamia Mosque 40's (Photo by Harjinder Kanwal ) The Macmillan Library with the Jamia Mosque 40’s (Photo by Harjinder Kanwal )

In 1909, Kamau wa Ngegi joined Church of Scotland Mission…

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Hilarious Origin of Names of Towns and Locations in Kenya

Kenyan History

Kenya is home to many trading centers and towns some with very interesting names, but have you ever thought of how the name of your town or village came about? Some of the names came about by what we can term as sheer coincidence and twists which are funny.

Dagoretti Corner: The place was originally known as “The Great Corner” and the Africans could not pronounce it correctly and the corrupted version became Dagoretti Corner which was directly from The Great Corner which has stuck to this day. The Great Corner was the site of the first airfield in Kenya; a patchy grass runway around the present Meteorological Department.

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Rumuruti: Rumuruti is a town in Laikipia County about 40km north of Nyahururu. How did it get its’ name? The town was on the route from Nyahururu to Mararal which was commonly used by white settlers. They referred to the…

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