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How Solomon Zeray Feresenay has grown in the Business Incubator.

“I was worried about survival of my business… I am now sure my grocery shop will be around for many years to come!”

Can you imagine (as a refugee) having to apply for resettlement not once, not twice, not thrice but seven times with no success? Frustrating isn’t it? That is the story of Solomon Zeray Feresenay, an Ethiopian resident of Kakuma 1 who fled to Kakuma Refugee Camp in August 2013 because of the political unrest in his motherland. Fueled by the sight of many of his friends and fellow refugees leaving to Australia, Canada and the US on resettlement, he became so obsessed with fantasies of the western world for many years. However, this is no longer the case as he has now resolved to rebuild his future here in Kenya courtesy of our Business Incubation program where we not only believe in challenging people’s entrepreneurial resolve, but ultimately validating their dreams as well.  

Solomon was admitted in our Kakuma 3 Business Incubator in August 2019, very clueless (like many of his colleagues), but extremely anxious to know what he stood to gain from it. The thought of having a personal Business Coach allocated to walk with him in his green grocery business at Hong Kong market, blew his mind and endeared him to the program. For a long time, he had grappled with challenges of having to source most of his stock outside Kakuma. Luckily, through this program, he has indeed been able to establish linkages with his fellow incubatees in terms of product sourcing and selling. His long, weary and expensive trips to Kitale and beyond to buy simple farm produce like kales, tomatoes, onions, carrots and the like have reduced significantly. As a matter of fact, Sirati Farmers Group, fellow incubatee from Kakuma 2, is currently his biggest supplier of horticultural produce for his shop. The Business Incubator has also come in handy to ensure that his troubles in processing travel permits to outside Kakuma Refugee Camp are no more, courtesy of the ease and flexibility that the relevant authorities in the camp accord our incubatees.

Solomon at his shop at Hong Kong in Kakuma 1

 A brave, adventurous and enthusiastic businessman who is always eager to put into practice lessons from his coach, Solomon recently hired a shop assistant to help him fix his business cash flow problems. This followed a self-assessment (with the help of his coach) that revealed his weakness in not being able to resist selling on credit. On advice by his coach he has currently taken a back office role where he rarely comes into direct contact with his customers. Ever since the adoption of this strategy his business has been enjoying positive cash-flows. Given his recent access to finance from the Business Incubator, he envisages additional employment opportunities at his shop in the near future.

He recently confessed to his coach that before his entry into the business incubator, he was worried about survival of his newly established green grocery shop beyond 2019. However, he is now sure his business will be around for many years to come and probably grow bigger courtesy of the myriad of benefits that he continues to reap from the incubator.

Women-owned crafts businesses reap big at Turkana’s 2019 edition of Tobong’u Lore

Women entrepreneurs supported by AAH Kenya’s Kakuma project are among hundreds of exhibitors participating in this year’s cultural festival popularly known as Tobong’u Lore (welcome back home) that is taking place August 15-18 at Ekalees Cultural Centre in Lodwar town. They are here with a vibrant display of colourful hand-woven baskets and bowls, bags and jewellery that have kept a flow of visitors streaming into the stand.

For Regina Nanok, seeing her goods on display for the world to see and buy is a dream come true. The joy in the 38-year old mother of five was hard to miss as she bubbled on and on while grinning from ear to ear when asked what she liked most about being at the exhibition. “I have interacted with so many people today and this is good in helping us market our products. I think I am becoming better at selling thanks to all the bargaining and haggling over prices with the customers that I had to do today,” she said. One of those customers was Mr Herbert Perr, the European Union Ambassador to Kenya who bought some woven baskets from the excited traders.

Regina is among a group of women and girls whose business skills have been nurtured under the Safe from the Start project run by AAH Kenya since the beginning of 2018.

The project is providing business support services for talented artisans to build sustainable enterprises in handicrafts, fashion and design. 382 women artisans so far have been supported through the project which targets women and girls at risk of sexual and gender-based violence. Beneficiaries are drawn from the Turkana host community and refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Somalia.

Regina and hundreds of others through their groups have received over Ksh. 1.6 million (approximately USD $16,000) in form of loans through the Safe from the Start project Providing access to business capital through such loans has been a key driver of growth for these women’s businesses. The entrepreneurs are also members of the Turkana west integrated Savings and Credit Co-operative society (TWISACCO) which was launched in March 2018 as another avenue of business finance.

Being at the Tobong’u Lore, Regina and her fellow women are receiving exposure to outside markets, which is one of the aims of this project – to create linkages to markets within and beyond Kalobeyei’s vicinity.

Action Africa Help – Kenya stand at the exhibition.

The annual week-long fete which is sponsored by the Turkana County government attracts scores of local residents, international participants and dignitaries. Its aim is to show-case the cultural heritage and diversity of this community. From songs and dances, artefacts, food, costumes, rituals and road races, the event has been lauded as the biggest cultural festival in Kenya.

Football tournament promotes peace, unity and reconciliation in Maridi State

The twelve-week football tournament organized in Maridi and Ibba counties in South Sudan’s Maridi State came to a close with Manikakara Football Club emerging as winners of the tournament after they defeated Mudubai Football Club. The team from Ibba county scored 2 goals in the first half and maintained the lead throughout the rest of the match to win 2-0 against the team from Maridi County. The tournament dubbed Boma Health Initiative Peace Cupbrought together youth football teams from twelve Bomas in Maridi and Ibba counties to compete in a football championship aimed at fostering peaceful co-existence and building the spirit of love, forgiveness and reconciliation among the youth of the two neighboring counties.

The Boma Health Initiative Peace Cupis an initiative of the South Sudan programme of Action Africa Help International in partnership with Maridi State Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, funded by Bread for the World, a collective Christian voice that supports change in policies, programs, and conditions to eradicate hunger and poverty in the U.S and around the world. For some 3 years since 2013 AAH South Sudan conducted football tournaments in the former Western and Central Equatorial States of South Sudan aimed at promoting peace and unity among the populations of these two states under the Capacity for Post-Conflict Reintegration (CAPOR) project.

CAPOR employed creative approaches to reach out to and educate communities in attitude and behavior changes that enhanced their capacity to participate in peaceful reconstruction and reintegration processes. To advance the gains made with this approach the Boma Health Initiative Peace Cupwas put together under the Regional Primary Health Care project to deepen harmony among several Bomas in Maridi and Ibba counties of Maridi State, one of the 28 states of South Sudan that was part of the former state of Western Equatoria before the original 10 state split up. Bomas are the second largest administrative units after the village headed by a Chief.

Manikakara Football Club in white and Mudubai Football Club in green with the referees in red who officiated the march

Currently, the Boma Health Initiative is being implemented in Maridi, Yei River and Amadi States of South Sudan – a model that delivers an integrated package of health promotion and disease prevention activities in the villages. Maridi State Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports Honourable Peter Saki Silvan, applauded AAH South Sudan for being ambassadors of peace in the states through games and sports and urged continued support for sports activities in order to promote peaceful co-existence among the divided communities in the states. He recognized AAH South Sudan as the only committed non-governmental organization supporting games and sports in the states. He added that through games and sports the idle youth can be engaged in identifying their talents in sports shunning activities unsupportive of peaceful co-existence. He further called on AAH South Sudan to introduce other games and sports such as hand ball and female football to also enable the ladies compete in games and sports as do their male counterparts.

World Malaria Day Commemoration at Chipungu in Zambia

April 25this an international observance day recognizing the global effort to control and eradicate malaria. Known today as World Malaria Day, it started out as Africa Malaria Day back in 2001 brought about by the need for African governments to gauge success of efforts to control spread of malaria and rise in mortality caused by the disease in African countries. Since the 2007 decision by the World Health Assembly to adopt Africa Malaria Day as the international observance day for malaria, and renaming it World Malaria Day, it has continued to be observed annually over the past ten years to maintain growing awareness of the global fight against the disease. 

According to the latest World Malaria Report by the World Health Organization“no significant gains were made in reducing malaria cases in the period 2015 to 2017”– an indication of the levelling off globally of the advances in fighting malaria over the last ten years. Most malaria cases in 2017 the report reveals were in the WHO Africa Region with 92% of the cases or 200 million people. Of the 91 countries reporting indigenous malaria cases in 2016, 15 countries – all in sub-Saharan Africa, except India – carried 80% of the global malaria burden. 3 million of Zambia’s population of approximately 17 million people were diagnosed with malaria in 2016, with about 7% of the cases progressing to severe malaria.

In Zambia, the national strategic plan of response to malaria has been working through the Program for the Advancement of Malaria Outcomes (PAMO), a USAID-funded consortium that works with the National Malaria Control Centreto strengthen implementation of malaria control and elimination efforts. The Zambia programme of Action Africa Help International is a partner in the consortium involved specifically in; supporting proven malaria interventions in alignment with the National Malaria Elimination Strategic Plan 2017–2021 of the Ministry of Health (MOH); strengthening management capacity of provincial and district MOH personnel to provide supervision and mentoring for improved delivery of proven malaria interventions, and; strengthening provincial and district Health Management Information Systems (HMIS) to improve data reporting, analysis and use for decision-making.

AAH Zambia carries out the intervention in Mwansabombwe and Chienge Districts in Luapula Province in the northern part of the country. As part of efforts to shore up the intervention AAH Zambia commemorated the World Malaria Day with an event at Piliashi and Kazembe villages in Chipungu, one of the sub-locations in Chienge with high cases of malaria nationally. Through the event information about prevention and control of malaria was passed on to the community by focal persons from the District Health Office including, the District Environmental Health Technologist and Environmental Health Officer. Also present at the event was the Councillor of Chipungu and Headman of Piliashi village who remarked on the need to eliminate the disease that is prevalent in the community.

Attendants at the event watch a song and dance performance

A live band of boys and girls from the local church led a march within Piliashi and Kazembe villages to mobilise the community to the event. Drama, songs and dance performances in the local language was also used at the event to relay information about malaria transmission, prevention and elimination.

Commemorating World Water Day at Mantapala Refugee Settlement in Zambia

On 22nd March every year people across the world join in commemorating the International World Water Day, an annual UN observance day that focuses attention on the importance of freshwater, calling on the sustainable management of freshwater resources globally. Each year, a theme corresponding to a current or future challenge is set by UN-Water, the entity that coordinates the work on water and sanitation at the UN. This year’s theme is “Leaving no one behind”, an adaptation of the central promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, that is, as sustainable development progresses, everyone must benefit. This is related to the Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) which aims to ensure availability and sustainable management for all by 2030.

Globally, World Water Day is celebrated with a variety of events, such as educational, theatrical, musical and lobbying campaigns. Such events bring to light the lack of access to safe drinking water experienced by billions of people around the world. According to the UN marginalized groups including women, children, refugees, and internally displaced persons, are often overlooked, and sometimes face discrimination, as they try to access and manage the safe water they need. In fact, the latest statistics indicate that for the 68.5 million who have been forced to flee their homes, accessing safe water services is highly problematic.

As part of the efforts to tackle the difficulty in accessing safe drinking water among displaced populations, the Zambia programme of Action Africa Help International has been implementing water, sanitation and hygiene projects in Mantapala refugee settlement, an integrated refugee settlement located in Nchelenge District of Luapula Province in northern part of Zambia bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since August 2017, refugees fleeing conflict in Pweto area in Tanganyika province of the Democratic Republic of Congo have been arriving at Kenani Transit Centre, a reception centre set up by UNHCR to receive influx of refugees into Zambia crossing through Chiengi District, the smallest and most northerly district of Luapula Province. Most of the refugees received at the transit centre eventually get settled in Mantapala refugee settlement. Currently, there are some 4,236 households in the settlement, each is allotted a plot sized 35 by 25 meters on which to erect a temporary shelter and plant crops to feed their family.

Since the influx into the transit centre begun, Action Africa Help Zambia has been providing WASH assistance both at the centre and Mantapala refugee settlement. With support from UNHCR and UNICEF, AAH Zambia constructs temporary and permanent latrines and bathing shelters, installs tippy-taps, promotes good hygiene, and decommissions old latrines.

During this year’s World Water Day commemoration AAH Zambia involved around 100 refugees in cleaning of some 40 borehole water points in Mantapala settlement. Block committees, elected by block members, brought together members of their respective blocks in the cleaning to clear clogged drainage channels that trap used water around water points, in order to reduce risk of contamination of water in the boreholes and outbreak of water-borne diseases. Shelters were also constructed at 10 water points as a measure for maintaining good hygiene.

A woman fetching water at a fenced borehole water point in the settlement

A march also took place from the main market in Mantapala to Save The Children Square officiated by the Chair of Nchelenge Town Council, Mr. Courageous Monta. Several schools from Mantapala, beneficiaries from the refugee settlement, WASH volunteers from AAH Zambia office, and representatives from Zambia Red Cross also participated in the events through various drama and songs highlighting; the importance of regular cleaning of water points; risks of open defecation near rivers supplying the settlement; right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right; and significance of access to clean and potable drinking water to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.