Wednesday, August 20, 2008


There was jubilation, song and dance during the graduation of two of our youth, James Marema and Michael Mwangi. It was one of those moments that the entire SOS Children’s Village Eldoret went into a celebration mood to honour our youth who, after several difficult and challenging years at the Kenya Methodist University, successfully completed their studies and were declared ready to commence a new, productive and exciting but challenging life in the real world of work. It is was an occasion when our youth felt that their joint efforts were not only successful, but inspiring.

The graduation ceremony was a historic moment for us because we were witnessing the graduation of the fifth cohort of youth at degree level in the history of the village. The floral decorations at the graduation square and stage set up were impressive; the crowd arrived early, toting gifts, balloons, some very large pictures of individual graduands and, of course, cameras of all kinds.

There were exuberant displays of celebratory dances in diverse styles, jubilant shouts, hugs both modest and engulfing, thrown and blown kisses— all of which drew increased response from both graduands and the audience. The celebration continued with dancing, eating and fun. During the dinner the two graduates were congratulated by all present including their Village Mothers, brothers, cousin, uncles, youth leaders, educator, retired mama Gitahi and Mr Peter Wambugu the Village Director of the Meru Village.

They were advised not to be choosey in jobs, to have respect to all and not to forget their brothers and sisters in SOS. Their uncles gave a very touching speech on how they should be thankful to SOS and their mothers for guiding them through their academic journey. We were also privileged to have in attendance retired Mama Gitahi who also advised the two graduants to remain focused in life.

The two graduates, James and Michael, expressed their sincere appreciation and were thankful to the organization for enabling them go through their education from the kindergarten to the SOS Herman Gmeiner International College and now the Kenya Methodist University where they graduated with Bachelors of Business Administration in Human Resources and Management Information Systems respectively. For them, this was an accomplishment worthy of celebration. And there was no better time than now to their caregivers and teachers, whose love and support brought them to this day.

The patience and endurance of the mothers who had waited for a minimum of 4 years for this momentous event in the lives of the youth finally paid off. Mama Namale recounts her experience and feelings about her son’s graduation. "I have attended other people’s graduations but it felt very different when I attended my son’s graduation. It is the best feeling I have ever felt. To see my own child’s efforts being blessed and the fruits of my work being rewarded, I feel a lot of joy in my heart as a mother. It also confirms the saying that Kuzaa si Kazi, Kazi ni kulea (meaning 'Giving birth to a child is not a big task, the challenge is in raising a child'). It was very encouraging to have mothers, children and administrative staff, representatives from the other villages and youths coming to celebrate and to witness my son’s success. I was moved to tears when I listened to my son appreciate what I have done for him as a mother. We both shared our beautiful and painful moments. All mothers know the pain and the joy of bringing up a child and an SOS Mother is no exception.

Mama Stephen too had her story to tell. "We arrived in Meru that evening and met my son Michael and we got to talk and share what he felt as he awaited his graduation the following day. The graduation ceremony was marvelous, enjoyable and well timed. When their names were read out, we all shouted with joy and I felt proud of myself. I praised God who had seen him all though his studies. We talked a lot and shared ideas. When I looked at Michael and remembered how tiny he was when he joined my SOS family many years back and now he is here graduating. I feel so good and thank God for him."
By Fredrick Wills Ochieng Youth Leader Coordinator

Monday, August 11, 2008


Kenya is globally reputed as an athletic country with most of the runners emerging from Eldoret town. Before the post election violence there was an evident rapid growth of the infrastructure and business. Much of this is attributed to the principal of Urban-Rural investment, the spirit nurtured by our athletes. Eldoret town could only be compared to Nairobi Metropolitan City in terms of development; even economists prophesied that it was likely to emerge as a hub of socio-economic activities in Africa. All these prospects were shattered by the political upheavals in the town that witnessed potential investors change course.

With the signing of the peace accord between the President and the Prime Minister, life seemed to return to normalcy in most parts of the country. However, the simmering discord between certain communities within town based on the resettlement process has held so many programmes at ransom. For instance, businesses are on their knees. Small traders cannot move on with life. The municipal authorities have determined the type of business to be carried out on the streets consequently locking out many ordinary business people from making their daily bread. The survivors have resorted to maize-roast that is thriving late in the evening after the municipal authorities have vacated the town and estates.

Uasin Gishu being a maize growing region already has the first harvests ready for sale. Retail traders traverse the villages collecting maize cobs at an average of five Kenyan shillings each (about 65 shillings to the dollar). After roasting the maize to a golden appearance, it is sold at a maximum of 10 to 15 shillings depending on the size of the maize cob. It’s exciting to see Kenyans queuing for a cob on a first-come first-served basis. One would be surprised that about eighty percent of travelers in a Matatu would be enjoying a hot nicely roasted maize cob on their way home. I sought to find out from Mama Mahindi why she has fully immersed herself in the maize business; “Most of my customers have changed their appetite from fruits due to the prices and cold weather; they prefer maize because they are cheap and fresh from the farm. This enables me to make quick profits without paying unnecessary taxes to the municipality.” With the rainy season at the door, she is afraid that her business will be adversely affected leaving her with few options on how to raise her young ones.

I have a deep seated conviction that once the political feuds subsides, the Eldoret Municipality will loosen its policies to allow small traders to carry out their businesses in order that they may support their kin. With free trade going on, money will exchange hands and youth will be self employed. This is the path that will enable Eldoret municipality to regain its glory and momentum as a fastest growing town in the region. With many tourist attractions including the Great Rift Valley, tourists are likely to flood into the town, consequently improving the country’s economy. Kenya can only achieve its vision 2030 when all Kenyans own the vision and actively contribute towards the process. I therefore submit that with political stability in Eldoret, all communities will coexist again and businesses will flourish including the smallest trader, Mama Mahindi.

by Simon M Mudi
Youth Leader, Eldoret.