Summary of article in Billed Bladet #49, 2018.
Written by our associate in Kenya, Ulrik Ulriksen.
Mary who was accompanied by Minister for Development, Ulla Tørnæs, started her two day visit to Kenya, by flying to Kalama about an hours flight from Nairobi. Also in the air, was another plane with the Danish press.
Well arrived to a temperature of 30 degrees C (86F) she started by inspecting the local security forces. Security was tight under this part of the visit, due to incursions across the border from Somalia, so both security forces, Kenyan police and Danish special forces were present.
Then she went with the Danish delegation to meet the locals, especially the local women, who are supported by a Danish project (Danida), in which the women receive support, encouragement and counseling in setting up their own little businesses. That means an increasing women have become economically independent, and with that comes more status, more personal freedom and more influence.
As such Mary was on arrival draped and adorned in locally manufactured products.
Mary said: "It was a very festive reception. It made an impression to see people from the different cultures who live in the area. It does cause some challenges (they used to be enemies and rustle each others cattle) with the various cultures, but it can be handled by incorporating women more, who help creating a dialogue. You work together in order to create peace and as they say in this area, peace also create progress. And with progress opportunities are created."
- The tribal nomadic cultures in this part of Africa are very much based on cattle and typical for nomadic cultures also they are also mainly traditional warrior cultures. - And that includes cattle rustling.
Being proud and male dominated there have been considerable problems in trying to introduce reforms. In the early 80's there was a serious attempt to introduce camels as a replacement for cattle. Camels are admirably suited for the terrain, fauna, climate and not least the occasional drought.
No way! For a culture were a polite greeting (among men) is: "How is your cattle?" Camels were not a palatable change. And Nomads are most reluctant to settle down as farmers. Traditionally they look down on farmers, whom they used to raid and generally tyrannize.
But seeing women setting up their own businesses has inspired a number of local men to explore the possibilities for setting up a local enterprise too. As a supplement to cattle, of course...
During the visit Mary was very busy with her camera. Mary explained that she will use the photos to tell her children about what she has seen and been doing in Kenya. "It's good memories to take back home and the pictures can be used to tell some of the stories we have heard here today."
After a lunch, with some of the local representatives, Mary and the Danish delegation flew on to the nature reserve Lewa. Here Danida is also involved in involving women in running the reservation.
Typically that is an extra income for men, who work as guides, guards, drivers, caretakers and what not, in order to accommodate the tourists coming to the reserve. These are jobs that are well suited to a nomadic people. Unfortunately the article does not provide details about which functions the women are involved in.
The delegation and the journalists spend the night at Lewa, and to the obvious delight and fascination of the press corps a pride of lions had killed a larger animal close to the compound and they were still around feasting when the Danes left shortly after sunset.
Then it was back to Nairobi, where the delegation visited to slum area of Kibera, where some 700.000 people live.
Teenage pregnancies and single mothers is of course a social issue in Kenya as everywhere else. Not least as some of the women, well, girls really, go to Nairobi to seek work and end up getting pregnant and abandoned. Without their family nearby they are of course extra vulnerable. - Not that it always help to have a family, as many of the girls are ostracized. So social workers offer help and advise to young mothers or women who have become pregnant.
Strolling through the narrow streets the delegation made its way to the house of Action Foundation, where children and young with handicaps receive help. And here Mary met Maria Omare, who founded Action Foundation. The purpose of the foundation is to find and help handicapped children who are either abandoned or hidden away by their families.
Mary had a long chat with many of the young mothers and the people who help them.
While there Mary also made a number of TV-spots, that are to be aired in 2019 in connection with a national fundraiser, that will focus on children in need.
Three year old Abby seems to have melted Mary's heart, because she carried the child around for a long period during the visit.
The visit ended with the local women getting Mary to join them in a dance.
Mary also took part in the launching of the #DeliverforGood campaign in Kenya, which aims to promote and further women's rights in Kenya.
But see for yourselves here: https://app.box.com/s/nexagnxkq8obyqo7xbja60fvtmvbu9nx