• Feminism

    Avoid The Knife – FGM in Kenya

        I met Vivian in Nairobi. We were told that we were to meet a young woman who had narrowly escaped Female Genital Circumcision (FGM), a practice that is barbaric and abusive. She had escaped being cut, not because of the intervention of Western aid workers or other incomers to her rural Kenyan community, but because her parents forbade it. The Luo community, to which Vivian and her parents belong do not practice FGM, but she grew up in a Kuria community where girls are cut. It is seen as a rite of passage,  which most girls eagerly anticipate . When Vivian’s parents refused permission for her to be cut,…

  • Feminism

    The Family Planning Summit London 2012 – More Than Statistics and Soundbites

    The Family Planning Summit of 2012 took place in London today. A stones throw from the UK Houses of Parliament, world leaders, activists and health care workers and providers gather together to put Family Planning back on table in developing countries around the globe.     Melinda Gates began by calling it ‘an important milestone in the history of Family Planning’. In Ban Ki-Moon’s pre-recorded video address he expressed the wish that ‘no child should be born unwanted, and no woman should die needlessly in childbirth’. There followed a lot of speeches by ministers of various countries, expressing their commitment to the cause.  Speeches filled with statistics and soundbites. ‘One in three…

  • Feminism

    Family Planning in Kenya – A Tale of Two Women

    This week I will be blogging from the London Summit on Family Planning, organised by the UK government and the Gates Foundation. The ambitious aim is to provide family planning methods to an additional 120 million women worldwide by 2020. I have already blogged at length about this, so will simply give you all an impression of what this means for two  of the women I met on my recent trip to Kenya. Miriam is 32 years old and was at the Marura Village Dispensary in Laikipia District with her 3 month old son, Peter. She already has five girls at home and is struggling to keep them in school.…

  • Kenya

    Saving Kenyan Lives

    Gordon Okal Owera is a 26 year old teacher from a small village in Kenya. We visited him last week with the woman who saved his life. It is not an exaggeration; Pamela cajoled, bullied and persuaded him that life is worth fighting for.     When Gordon started feeling unwell in Autumn 2011, he thought he had just been working too hard. A school teacher, he worked left home at 6am and didn’t return until 6.30pm. He put the fatigue that he was feeling down to the long hours, particularly during the harvest in December. He would work in the fields from early morning till midday then go home…

  • Feminism

    Living (HIV) Positively

    Jasinta lives with the knowledge that she has HIV. She was diagnosed in 2009 but kept it a secret, even from her husband. ‘I lived in stigma and denial’, she told me. The stigma of HIV is a big problem here in Kenya. Newly diagnosed patients find that their neighbours and friends turn away from them and their customers shun their businesses. It is a lonely life for many Kenyans with HIV. When she discovered she was pregnant, a year after her her diagnosis, she went to the local health clinic. She was lucky that the clinic she visited was one that offered a support group for mothers with HIV. She…

  • Kenya

    Pumwani Maternity Hospital, Kenya – People Not Numbers

    One million. Can you visualize one million people? The Kenyan population is growing at a rate of 1m people a year, and is in danger of slowing the positive development of the country. The effects of this population explosion is often told, but too often we concentrate on numbers and graphs, instead of on the human cost of this issue. To put a face to the statistics, we travelled to the Pumwani Maternity Hospital in the East of Nairobi. Dr Omondi Kumba told us a bit about the place. It was founded in 1926 and after Kenyan independence was turned over to the City of Nairobi. The hospital is a…

  • Kenya

    Kenya – A Country of Contrasts – Wealth, Poverty and Slums of Nairobi

    Any visitor to the city of Nairobi will testify to the contrasts to be found within the city. Poverty and wealth are but a few streets apart. Kenya is a city of contrasts, that impressed me. Despite the challenges faced by the poorest inhabitants, the wealth of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit was inspiring. We arrived at Joma airport late last night. It was dark so my first impressions of Nairobi were that it seemed like any other large city. The first sign that things were different here was the airport style security checks on entering the hotel. This morning we met the other bloggers and the organisers of the trip…

  • Kenya

    Africa Without Pity – Stereotypes and Slum Tourism

    How do you report from Africa without being patronising? It is a topic that has been going through my mind for several days now. Do the people in the slums really feel that Angelina Jolie cares about them, when she arrives in her private jet, stays at the best hotel in the country (if she stays there at all) then jets right out again. Is there a danger that it can be seen as “do-gooder tourism”. How do you leave the slums without feeling helpless, hopeless, daunted by the task ahead? And how do you cope with the stories you hear? I watched Sian from Geek Is The New Chic…

  • Kenya

    Kenya Blog Hop – Kick Off

    This is advance information for all bloggers, Join in the Blog Hop on TUES 19th June 2012 Help raise awareness of the  120 million+ women in developing countries who wish to use modern family planning methods, but cannot access them. The effects of this are far reaching and devastating, not only for the women and their families, but also for the countries in which they live.   Unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, still births – and over 250,000 maternal deaths yearly   “Every two minutes, a woman dies of pregnancy-related complications, the four most common causes being: severe bleeding after childbirth, infections, high blood pressure during pregnancy, and unsafe abortion. Ninety-nine…

  • Kenya

    Kenya – An Offer I Could Not Refuse

    We were driving from the airport to my husband’s home town in Germany when my iPhone pinged, signalling incoming mail. “What on earth is this”, I asked my husband, “Someone is inviting me to Kenya”. “Some kind of project, they contacted me through Jump! Mag. They are impressed by my work and want to take me to Kenya”, I frowned. Opening Safari on my phone, I googled the name of the project, International Reporting Project and clicked on Wikipedia. My eyes widened as I scanned the page. IRP.. gate-keepers… Paul H Nitze School… John Hopkins University… On the IRP website I found this:   The program was created in 1998, making…