Monthly Archives: June 2020

Celebrating World Refugee Day- June, 2020

In regards to world refugee day, AAH-Kenya honors all refugees for their resilience, courage, strength, and hope to start life fresh. Everyone can make a difference in making the world a better place for anyone who has been forced to flee their country because of continued political differences, war and community conflicts. #EveryActionCounts.

Immaculate Ekal Napeikar (in-front), a Kenyan, host community Kalobeyei

Immaculate said, “The tailoring skills that I have gained have given me what I wanted in life: food, clothing, income, and investment. Nothing can be compared to tailoring business and AAH-I has been a ray of dawn to me, and my family.”

Anociate Mukawera 32yrs, a Congolese, displaying her artistic work.

Aniciate said, “I am very happy that AAH-I has given me a voice, has empowered and dignified women in the refugee camp and Kalobeyei, which has become home for all. Through basket weaving, I have been able to support my family and invested the profits in hotel business. My family and I were declared stateless in Tanzania, we fled to Kakuma refugee in 2014 and now I have a place to call home.”

“I enrolled for AAH-I business incubation in 2019 that has opened my inner eyes, and now I own a beauty parlor and able to identify more business opportunities within my business,” she said.

Dotto Mongelwa, 31yrs from Congo outside her beauty shop.

Didier said, “Through AAH-I business incubation support, I have started a business of making environment-friendly cookstove from scrap metal and clay power from mobile phones and solar batteries, which is now supporting my family.”

Didier Ndayishimiye (in kanzu), from Burundi and with a work colleague.

In the image below, Margret Kaukau from South Sudan (forefront-right), said, “Opportunities are never lost until we die. I am a proud tailor who joined my fellow women in the refugee camp in the fight against COVID 19 by producing fabric face every day.” Mary Ewoton, a Kenyan in the host Community (forefront -left) said, “Happiness is a direction and not a place. I am very happy for the idea of masks, for the safety and happiness of the host community.”

A group of women displaying facemasks

“AAH-I offered me some training on entrepreneurship, financial management, group formation, quality production and pricing and this has broadened my mind. I appreciate the fact that there is plenty within our reach that one can survive on as a source of livelihood. Through AAH-I fund, I was able to start bead-work business which has yielded me profits and enabled me to start another business of cooking Ethiopian Anjera,” said Ngil below.

Ngil Ojulu Ochan from Ethiopia beading a necklace.

“When the covid19 outbreak was announced in Kenya, my businesses were affected greatly but I did not lose hope. I joined other women in making face masks to fight the virus and protect our community- a tailoring skill that I gained in Dadaab before moving to Kakuma camp.”

Ngil Ojulu Ochan from Ethiopia making face masks.

Stateless, but thriving… In the Business!

Dotto Mongelwa, a 31-year-old wife and mother of four; resident of Kakuma, I would be a nun today had the Tanzanian government not declared her family stateless way back in 2011. She remembers the whole fiasco as if it happened yesterday. She was in a seminary school when the word reached her that her family of 17 members had been deported to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) allegedly their ancestral land. She blames this unfortunate turn of events on her father’s involvement in politics.

 “It is true my great grandparents came from North Kivu, DRC. However, this was not enough ground for our deportation and eventual disappearance without a trace of my dad.” She explained as she painfully fought tears with little success.

“About two or three of my family’s generations (including my grandfather) are Tanzanians by birth, Kigoma residents to be precise. Why did the government do this to us?” she asked rather rhetorically. Her family’s statelessness landed them in the Kakuma refugee camp in 2014 facilitated by UNHCR.

“I had by then dropped out of the seminary and got married out of frustrations. My husband and father of my two children then, abandoned me when I lost my citizenship. I landed in Kenya a stateless, helpless single mother!” she continued.

Now a mother of four, Dotto who enjoys playing football set up a beauty shop at Kakuma 3’s Burundian market in August 2019. Until then, she had worked as a primary school teacher and volunteer football coach under LWF for nearly six years managing to accumulate enough savings to start her own business. She owes her teaching qualifications to the seminary school she had attended while in Tanzania.

“I also learned tailoring/dressmaking as well as beauty skills while at the seminary” she added

She currently sells beauty products at her Mama Angel Beauty Shop where she also offers manicure, pedicure, and as well as general salon services. She also stocks wedding gowns, shoes, and accessories for hire. When she joined our business incubation project (funded byUNHCR) in January 2020, we helped her to modify her business model to increase her profitability through the introduction of a barbershop to complement her wedding and salon services. Today, a groom can have his hair cut at her barbershop as his bride is assisted to wear her makeup and hire gown for their big day. This has increased customer traffic at her business and ultimately pushed up her revenues and indeed her profits.

She is not done yet. She plans to introduce a baby shop alongside her salon and barbershop, and start offering outside catering services to her wedding clients in the long run.

“. For instance, every day I meet three to four expectant mothers at my salon. I am pained that when they are due for delivery, they shop for their new-born elsewhere, thus denying me revenue. I am determined to put a stop to this!” she concluded.

The taste of business incubation.

He was arrested twice by the outgoing Burundian regime and released without trial. His only crime was his perceived alliance with the opposition. Fearing for his own life and that of his young family, Didier Ndayishimiye, a firstborn in a family of five and a lawyer by profession, fled to Rwanda and joined a refugee camp in Kigali in December 2015.

Life in the camp was not easy for the 39-year-old father of four, given the unprecedented sudden change in his social and economic circumstances. Because of his refugee status, he could not find a job in Rwanda to supplement the inadequate food rations from UNHCR. Luckily, a Rwandese friend he had once met while in Burundi introduced him to a private cookstove fabrication enterprise in the heart of Kigali city. For three months he learned how to make an environment-friendly cookstove from scrap metal and clay powered by a mobile phone battery or solar.

He rejoined the refugee camp and immediately established “Machenga Cook Stove” to produce and sell cookstoves majorly to his refugee community. His Rwandese friend was gracious enough to lend him some little money which he used to buy equipment and stocks of scrap metal. Business was good at first and he managed to put back a smile to his family albeit temporarily. As fate would have it, in 2018 UNHCR stopped distributing charcoal and firewood to refugees in Rwanda, replacing these two common sources of fuel for households with gas (LPG). His business crumbled quite literally! It soon became clear to him that his continued stay in Rwanda was no longer tenable economically speaking. He quickly plotted his next escape- this time to Kenya.

He arrived in Kakuma in May 2019 and joined our business incubation project (funded by UNHCR to support the development of startups in Kakuma and Kalobeyei) in January 2020 to launch his “Machenga Cook Stove” enterprise in Kenya. For over six months he had tried to restart this business on his own but failed. Having just arrived in Kakuma, he experienced challenges in finding premises to set up his workshop, sourcing supplies (scrap metal, etc) as well as finding customers. He needed some help to get things going. AAH-I allocated him one of the business stalls at Kakuma 3 incubator center and guided him through the process and steps of setting up a business in Kenya besides providing him with social capital in terms of networking opportunities with his fellow incubates within the incubator and externally who go through the same doubts and difficulties.

Sharing experiences with his colleagues in the incubator about startup challenges has helped Didier in overcoming them. In the process, his cookstove has been received extremely well in the Kakuma market. Several households love it because it is safe (can be lit by children without getting hurt), environment friendly (build with harmless clay), saves time (improves and accelerates the cooking process by a solar propelled fan) saves money (reduces charcoal consumption by 60%) and comes at an affordable price of (USD 8) only and in a variety of colors.

In less than six months in the business incubator, he has been able to increase his production from 4 units to an average of 30 units per week. He has also been able to engage the services of two employees in product development and production. Occasionally, his wife works for him too. On the marketing front, he has established linkages with Bamba chakula traders in Kakuma and Kalobeyei who currently double up as his stockists and/or distributors. Boda Bodas also continue to benefit from his business as transporters of raw materials and finished products.

“My vision is to transform cooking into an efficient and pleasurable process in an affordable and environmentally friendly manner,” he said.

A new Virus in sheep adds more sorrow to livestock keepers in Mara amid Covid-19

Action Africa Help International is supporting 350 livestock keepers in Narok County which spreads across four cooperatives and one Community Based Organization. The livestock keepers who traditionally deal with cattle have been receiving training on ways to better their livestock concentrating on proper ways to feed them, the health of the animals, and marketing. AAH-I has trained the cooperatives on alternative livelihood methods, with three of the cooperatives and one CBO adopting beekeeping as an alternative source of income. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the activities of the cooperatives have been affected since social gathering have been suspended by the ministry of health to contain the spread of the Covid19 virus.

However, even as reported in the human situation, the prevalence of diseases affecting the livestock didn’t cease with the onset of coronavirus disease. The rains have been pouring heavily all over the country since late 2019. The onsets of the heavy rains in Mara brought with it a new type of a disease that has never been witnessed in the area. The disease which mainly affects the sheep has made the farmers in Narok County, Narok West sub-county lose quite a large number of sheep adding more to their sorrows.

The farmers struggled to find the cure of the disease but with no success since they didn’t get the right expert who knew about the disease. The livestock keepers resulted in traditional ways of treating the disease such as the use of salts which worsened the situation of the sheep.

AAH-I undertook to find a solution to the farmers to avert further losses. A veterinary officer from the county department of Livestock was sought to train the farmers on the disease. According to the expert, Blue Tongue is a disease that affects the sheep alone. The disease is an insect-borne viral disease. The disease is non-contagious meaning can’t be passed from sheep to sheep. It is only transmitted by insect vectors – tiny flies called midges. (Culicoides). Signs of bluetongue disease include; fever, widespread hemorrhages of oral and nasal tissue, excessive salivation, and nasal discharge, the lips and the tongue become swollen and this swelling may extend below the lower jaw, lameness due to swelling of the cuticle above the hoof.

Unfortunately, the disease is a virus and has no treatment but rather requires a vaccine to control it before the onsets of rains. “The principal and effective measure is vaccination of the sheep to reduce, clinical disease and contain the spread of the disease. Also, control of the movement of the animals, quarantine, and good husbandry procedures to control the vectors, reduce the transmission, and protect susceptible animals. Tracing and surveillance to determine the extent of the virus and vector distribution. Zoning to define infected and disease-free areas.” Mark Lemein, County Veterinary Officer

Mark Lemein, Narok County Veterinary Officer, with the farmers.

The veterinary however advised that there are deterrent drugs and antibiotics which can help to reduce the death of the sheep. The cooperative members agreed to organize themselves and get the drugs with the directive of the Veterinary officer.

Apart from the training on the sheep viral disease, the cooperative’s members were further trained on the hygiene measures to curb the spread of the Covid19. The groups were advised to continue observing social distancing, put on masks whenever they are in the public and wash hands regularly with water and soap, or use sanitizers.