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Re: [actalive] 2008 (situation in Kenya)/ActALIVE and Minciu Sodas Roles were Crucial too!

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  • Janet Feldman
    Dear Dennis and All, Thanks for this stirring and inspiring report. The memories of that awful experience are coming back to all of those of us involved in
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 30, 2008
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      Dear Dennis and All,
      Thanks for this stirring and inspiring report. The memories of that awful experience are coming back to all of those of us involved in some way, but with that the deep desire to ensure that nothing like this happens again, in Kenya or anywhere else.
      Unfortunately, there are too many places in the world--and where some of our cherished members live--that are experiencing such chaos, strife, and bloodshed on a daily basis. Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are two such places. I will be addressing that in an email soon, and hope we can work together in ActALIVE and our related groups to find ways in which arts and media can be helpful--if not life-saving--in these terrible situations.
      While this report is exciting and uplifting in many respects, it does not cover the crucial role of ActALIVE (www.actalive.org) and the Minciu Sodas Laboratory for Independent Thinkers in the activities mentioned (www.ms.lt). The report mentions Holistic Helping, my own working group--where much of the peace-related activities linked to MS took place--but without explanation of what this endeavor or its larger context is, who is involved, or the vital activities funded and supported in other ways.
      I see organizations (MTV) and projects (Rising Voices)--as well as activities mentioned (outreach to IDPs and general peace-related activities) --that are connected to ActALIVE (in that our forum is the way REPACTED became connected to them), or linked to Holistic Helping in the thousands of dollars and huge amounts of time, energy, and caring extended by a number of members to address the chaos and the carnage in Kenya.
      At least two REPACTED members were initially connected to Holistic Helping and Minciu Sodas via the ActALIVE forum, too, and other ActALIVE members were introduced to MS working groups during this time, for the purpose of jointly focusing on how to restore and augment peace activities, including peaceful approaches to conflict.
      ActALIVE (as an org) donated $1500 for REPACTED theater-for-peace activities, and individuals (myself for ActALIVE and Holistic Helping, and a large number at HH/MS) donated money, airtime, phones, computers, and much more to the peace endeavors. The activities supported by MTV, Rising Voices, and others were surely bolstered by these other inputs.
      In addition, the concept of the emergency-phone network was birthed within Minciu Sodas and our various working groups. This highly-successful mode of connecting our members, other people, and activities throughout Kenya contributed something vital to re-establishment of peace, let alone the safety and well-being of a number of individuals and groups.
      If this is a report to REPACTED funders, then it would be appreciated if all of the funders are mentioned. I don't necessarily mean by individual name, though you have named and thanked individuals in this report. For instance, it doesn't bother me not to be mentioned by name, but it does bother me greatly that ActALIVE and Holistic Helping are not given at least one or two lines in this text. The only place ActALIVE is mentioned, in fact, is towards the end of a list of your partners.
      ActALIVE and the Holistic Helping working group look forward to working with REPACTED--and all of our member orgs and individuals-- in 2009, bringing the "good news" of the crucial role arts and media can and do play in addressing a wide variety of issues and the challenges of our time.
      My hope is that the good news of what we are doing will be embraced and communicated to others, so that we can keep doing what we do. That is the best, and indeed the only, way that such endeavors will be sustainable.
      Thanks and greatest blessings, Janet
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Tuesday, December 30, 2008 3:31 AM
      Subject: [actalive] 2008

      We never thought we will make it to 2008 it was clear we were headed for a mass genocide, greater than Rwanda. Those were the REPACTED member’s words during the end year meeting at the Nakuru Players Theatre.

      After the 27th December 2007 disputed presidential elections results in Kenya, just before the violence in Nakuru REPACTED team members were assembled at the Nakuru Players Theatre discussing how to reach out to the victims of the post elections skirmishes in Njoro, Kuresoi, and Molo through the Holistic Helping key person in Rift Valley Province Dennis Kimambo. Dennis had already mobilized some support from well wishers. Collins travelled to Kuresoi one of the most volatile area to find out how the situation was on the ground. In Kuresoi Collins met a friend of REPACTED in peace building and transformation Laurence Achami.

      We left home in peace for the office at the theatre little did we know that going back home was going to be hell, and indeed it was, while we were busy combing the grassroots in other volatile regions hell broke loose in Nakuru. It took each one of us hours to reach home instead of the usual few minutes. We spent weeks talking through phones since the local administration declared a night curfew for Nakuru residence.

      We still possessed the spirit to solder on with our normal community theatre activities but this time in IDP camps what a challenge after some normalcy returned in the town. We could not do the normal community outreaches in the community because there were no audiences in the community and any noise was treated as a disturbance. We changed strategy and employed other forms of community outreach like video shows in the video dens, focused group discussions, and included peace messages in the normal health talks. Thanks to Sara Piot and Georgia Arnold of MTV Staying Alive for understanding the situation. The organization concentrated on one on one peer education sessions, educative video shows, and focused group discussions in the community. The work was very expensive and wanting especially the IDP outreaches, it was an emergency that needed an extra budget thanks to the APHIA II project rift valley for supporting the extra outreaches in the IDP camps.

      Everything calmed down after signing of the peace deal by the two principals Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga led by Kofi Anan. During the conflict we realized one thing, the power of the internet social forums like the personal blogs which took over from the main stream media, the internet is a powerful tool of communication. We actively made a good use of the internet after the mainstream media was blacked out by the government.. Most of us with internet enable phone could still communicate effectively and post news to the web for the world to read and get the real story. Thanks to David Sasaki Oso of the Raising Global Voices for the phone you left behind when you visited REPACTED the phone (Sony Ericsson W8 10i) played a serious role after Dennis was robed a phone in the skirmishes while on a night mission to saving two REPACTED members who were trapped in the war zone, we used the phone to take pictures.

      We resumed our normal magnet theatre outreaches with mobile VCT. The organization through team work managed to mobilize a good number of community members to access the free counseling and testing. It is not normal to test more than 120 people in a day for four VCT counselors. with the grant from the Staying Alive Foundation and the Raising Global Voices, we did up to 16 magnet theatre outreaches in a month, weekly skills demonstration forums, two youth symposiums and two youth events, Along the year 2008 REPACTED managed to train 30 change agents and five youth leaders on leadership, peer education and the use of digital media-photography, video shooting, blogging and most current encouraging positive bloggers from the community. The organization through collaborative efforts managed to effectively and consistently reach out to 10,000 young people, distributed 30,000 male condoms.

      We still have challenges in blogging since it is a new phenomenon to the community though it is picking up. Thanks to Eduardo Avila of Voices Bolivia for the workshop when you visited REPACTED. The bloggers still talk about some of the skills you shared during the workshop. The members agreed to do something about the content by introducing interactive blogging within the REPACTED community theatrical outreaches. Interactive blogging will be more of community magnet theatre style or “interactive theatre of blogging” ok great thinking lets wait for 2009 for more information. More positive bloggers will be introduced next year…ok.

      Ok the year was a great year to the organization has Kimambo Dennis attended the international AIDS conference in Mexico meat one of my great friends of REPACTED Lova. Thanks again to the MTV Staying Alive Foundation for the great support. Dennis Kimambo and Esther Ogema also attended training in Zambia and James Karongo attended training in Tunisia thanks to Family Health International and National Organization of Peer Educators. Collins Dennis Oduor also attended the Citizen Media Summit in Hungary. All the trainings and the conferences boosted greatly the capacity of the organization from management, information communication technology, monitoring and evaluation, and leadership creation.

      Although we got a lot of difficult in accessing the prisons…. shame to the bureaucracy … this year we managed to do 15 community theatre outreaches in the prisons. Sammy and Ongaro both prisons waders and Voluntary Counseling Testing-service providers made sure that through the welfare office we access the prisons. This time it was the other way round a good number of the prison waders accessed the VCT services. Youth open mic festivals, Miss and Mr. Red Ribbon and poa festivals were a great event for the youth, the youth love music and performing arts hence the festivals were a great success.

      Way forward- The members agreed that next year will be a year of holistic service to the community. It will be the year of social change and transformation in all the programs. Through the spirit of teamwork REPACTED members are more than willing to bring about change we believe in and save the community from the social injustices by creating a healthy nation through creative arts and digital media. To cut the short story long wait for the year 2009…..


      REPACTED believes in the spirit of networking, collaboration and partnership we therefore would like to appreciate, the MTV Staying Alive Foundation, the Raising Global Voices Online, the Nakuru Players Theatre, APHIA II Rift Valley, Partners for Progress, Act Alive, Vices of Roses, National Organization of Peer Educators, ADRA Kenya and the National AIDS Control Council.

      PO BOX 17382 20100
      Kipchoge Keino Avenue
      Nakuru Players Theatre behind Bontana Hotel

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