January | 2016 |

Monthly Archives: January 2016

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Institutions of Higher Learning Need to Invest in Youth Friendly Services

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Category : Naya Blog

By Michael Oliech Okunson (@MikeOkunson)

Despite the loud silence on issues abortion, incidences of unsafe abortion continue to rise, more so in institutions of higher learning. This is actually contrary to what most people think. Aren’t they supposed to be more learned and thus averse to risky sexual behavior that would make them require unsafe abortions? Aren’t they more aware of the effects of unsafe abortions such as bleeding, damage to organs, sterility and even death?

Truth is students in institutions of higher learning still do not have adequate access to comprehensive sexuality information and sexual and reproductive health services.

I was in Maseno University the other day for a dialogue on unsafe abortion and the statistics and testimonies were pretty shocking.

More than 50 girls had undergone unsafe abortion. Some of the incidences had been procured by medical students, many others by quacks on the outskirts of the university and yet others swallowed bitter concoction of tea leaves and concentrated juices to get rid of their pregnancies.

Although there were no cases of mortalities that the meeting heard, the psychological and physical effects of unsafe abortion demands that the strongest proponents and the strongest opposition agree on fundamentals of taking the agenda forward.

Now more than ever, we need youth friendly services in our institutions of higher learning. In most of our universities we only have hospitals and majority of its staff are old men and women whom the youths do not feel free to confide in. I am very sure that there are plenty of well-trained young doctors out there the government can employ in the university hospitals to attract more youths to visit such facilities for guidance and assistance. We also need to equip these hospitals with all the equipment and tools necessary for providing the highest standards of health including reproductive health care.

There is also need for more reproductive health programs that will help in creating awareness among the young people to practice safe sex at all times. Most of our young men and women in these learning institutions believe in sex myths.

Parents also need to have a sex talk with their sons and daughters. It has been proven that parent youth communication on sexual and reproductive health and rights actually saves lives. Yet most of the parents shy away when it comes to sex talk.

Young people are among the most vulnerable groups in the country and deliberate steps must be taken to ensure they are healthy and ready to play their part in contributing to Vision 2030 and other local, regional and global development agenda.

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I Want To Go To School

Category : Naya Blog

By Michael Oliech Okunson (@MikeOkunson)

For as long as I can remember, my mother has always woken me up by 6 A.M. It doesn’t matter whether it’s dark or it’s raining heavily or it’s a public holiday. You might think that she wants to make sure that the early bird catches the worm in school. You couldn’t be more wrong. 6 AM is usually the time she wakes me up to go and sell her mandazis by the road side.

My name is Aus, I am eight years old and this is my story.

I have never seen the inside of a classroom. Every morning when I go to sell mandazis by the road side I usually see kids younger than me carrying bags going to school. Some actually come and buy mandazis from me and make jokes about me that I am afraid of school. I wish they knew how I yearn to get that chance to be in school and make a difference in my life. Some concerned parents usually ask me what time I go to school and I usually invent lies. “I will go to school at 7am”

My mother usually tells me that she doesn’t have enough money to take me to school but who is fooling who because I usually hear the government talk of free primary education over the radio. Sometimes I wonder am I a cursed child? Don’t I belong to this world? Am I different from other kids who go to school? Is school only for bright students? Am I a fool? Is school only for the rich? Is school a place where people pass time? Am I too overqualified to be in school?

I wish to go to school. It’s where my heart wants to be. I want to learn about ABCDs… and the songs that I see my friends sing in the evening after coming from school. I want to learn more about arithmetics and meet new people and play games with them. I want to be happy in life. I want the key to success so that I can help my mother and other children who are like me.

Aus is not alone. There are plenty of young girls and boys who have been denied the right to access education in seme sub county. Because of poverty people don’t value education so there is no need in educating their children because it is a waste of time. They usually say education will not help put food on the table. Most of the children are either hawking or are working in quarry because they offer cheap labor. This is not right at all. Child labor is a violation of human right and should be stopped immediately.

Staying at home increases risk of early sexual debut, teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, early marriages, risk of domestic violence among other sexual and reproductive health concerns.

The county government must move with speed to keep young girls and boys in school, not just as a basic human right, not just to invest for the future but also to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights.

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Ensure Access to Education for All

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Category : Naya Blog

By Michael Oliech Okunson (@MikeOkunson)

In Kenya females are the majority population and yet they remain sidelined and marginalized when it comes to education. People value women as bride prices and don’t see the need of educating them. When majority of the population is uneducated then we are more likely to have a problem in terms of development. We are more likely to experience slow rate of growth and slow rate of development.

Fellow Kenyans, there is nothing more important in this world than investing in education for both girls and boys without any discrimination. Research has shown that there are many advantages that come along with a culture, society, or even country that encourages both girls and boys to keep learning and even to invest their resources into making education available to anyone who desires it despite of age, gender and sex.

Education is the key to success and this means that it is only through education that people are able to improve themselves socially and economically. As a person begins to learn more and more, it can help them move ahead in the world. When both women and men are able to move ahead in the world at the same rate then we are more likely see progress in terms of development.

Education for both girls and boys can also help in escaping poverty in the country. It is only through education that one gets more knowledge of the world around them and equips one with the tools necessary to get ahead and survive. Imagine a Kenya where both men and women are educated and are able to source better jobs. This means that the level of poverty will drop. According to Mudinda 2000, for development to take place, the number of the poor should be decreasing and not increasing.

Investing in both boys and girls has resulted to a continuous development. Research has shown that if a country wants to keep growing then it must invest in both girls and boys by providing them with quality education. They are both the future of this country and the more they know then the more they can assist in the growth of this nation.

Education for both girls and boys has also helped to prevent social problems such as HIV/AIDS, Gender based violence, and having of large families. Research has shown that an educated man and a woman are more able to plan for their family than the uneducated one. Educated men and women are more likely to use contraception and family planning than the uneducated one. Educated men and women are less likely to be embroiled in any form of violence since they all know what is good and what is bad and they all understand each other and know their rights.

If Kenya wants to be able to compete in this ever growing and changing world, then it needs to invest in education for both girls and boys without any discrimination. It is only through education of both girls and boys that Kenya will be able to keep up with developed nations like the United States. The only way Kenya can continue to grow and prosper is through investing in education for both the girl child and the male child.

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Letter To The President

Category : Naya Blog

By Michael Oliech Okunson (@MikeOkunson)

Happy New Year Mr. President,

On behalf of young people in Kenya, we take this opportunity to wish you a great 2016, to remind you of your earlier promises and to bring to your attention our needs as young people.

On 20 October 2015, the Mashujaa day, the day set aside to honour our heroes, you gave a moving speech at Kasarani stadium. Your speech filled us with optimism and made us believe that it was not all lost for us as young people living in Kenya today.

Specifically on the fight against HIV/AIDS and maternal mortality, you said

“We have increased access of ARVs from 600,000 people in 2013 to 850,000 people today. Our target is to ensure that we cover an additional 600,000 people meaning 90% of Kenyans living with HIV will be given treatment. Our free maternity programme has also bone fruits. When we came to office 44% of women gave birth in medical facilities. At present 68% of our mothers are attending hospitals for child birth. In 2013 maternal mortality was at 488 per 100,000, this has declined to 310 per 100,000. Likewise the child mortality rate has declined from 72 per 1000 to 52 per 1000 today.”

Mr. President although there is a slight improvement, more still needs to be done. The supreme laws of our land guarantees all individuals the right to access the highest standard of health including reproductive healthcare. The number of Kenyan mothers and children who died due to pregnancy and childbirth related complications last year were just too much. The figures Mr. President, were totally unacceptable for a country like Kenya who prides itself in being a regionally giant. But the bigger question will be if we will let others die from preventable causes this year? Will it be the same narrative again? Few facilities and human power? Poor infrastructure? Poor budgetary allocation to health? Health workers Strikes? Stock outs?

We hope definitely not.

Access to life saving ARVs by persons living with HIV/AIDS including the forgotten populations like adolescents and young people and communities in rural areas is crucially important in improving the quality of life. Inadequate access thus limits enjoyment of human rights as stipulated in the constitution and other international, regional and national commitments.

Mr. President a healthy nation is a prosperous nation and is more likely to develop at a faster rate.

We call upon you to be a champion of health and prioritize the sexual and reproductive health and rights of young people. We call upon you to lubricate your words with action and improve the health of our people; not just as a human right but so that we can be able to contribute to realization of Vision 2030.

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Let’s Carry The Unfinished Agenda of 2015 Forward

Category : Naya Blog

By Michael Oliech Okunson (@MikeOkunson)

We ushered in 2016 with so much joy, cheers, happiness and with a lot of zeal. We forgot about all our sorrows and problems. The slogan was what happened in 2015 remains in 2015. At that moment we felt as if everything was okay but the reality is things are not yet okay.

As we begin the 2016 journey, there are still too many people who are denied the right to sexual and reproductive health and the vast majority of these people are poor men, women and the young.

In Kenya thousands of men and women lack access to contraception and sexual reproductive health information and services that could help them choose their family size, prevent unwanted pregnancy, prevent STIs, prevent unsafe abortion and lastly prevent maternal and child mortality.

Due to lack of access to contraception and sexual reproductive health information and services, we still have millions of persons living with HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases that could have been treated or prevented. Every second and minute that passes by, there is a woman that is dying due to complication of childbirth and pregnancy. Cases of unwanted pregnancy and teenage pregnancy are on the rise. Cases of unsafe abortion and child mortality are also on the rise.

Sexual reproductive health and right is a human right which means it is essential to human development and everyone is entitled to them. We have to understand that both men and women have a right to more choice and control over their sexual reproductive lives.

Although there have been some gains made, not enough progress has been realized in implementing the International Conference on Population and Development Program of Action, among other national and international instruments that provided for access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.

It is my hope that this year both the civil society, the government and other partners will be able improve maternal and newborn health, make easy access to high quality family planning choices, eliminate unsafe abortion, reduce incidence of HIV and sexually transmitted infections, create greater awareness of sexual health and reduce risky behavior, achieve gender equality, rights, accountability and equity realized everywhere.

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