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Kosgei’s mission: making the world a more habitable place

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By JAMES KAHONGEH
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Jeffrey Kosgei from Nandi County radiates appeal in a manner that is not only fetching but also effortless. The good humoured young man wears his jolly disposition like a hat of honour. When he speaks, his timbre carries an element of determined vigour but mostly of empathy. And rightly so. Kosgei has a heart of gold.

A highly proactive individual, Kosgei, 25, is a Jack-of-all-trades: an economist, an educator and an environmental activist. For his love for children, he is also a team leader and volunteer at One African Child Foundation. All these he does with one mission: to make the world a happier place to live.

“One African Child Foundation for Creative Learning was established on November 20, 2013 as a non-governmental organisation. The motive was to provide leadership skills and other resources to disadvantaged children; to nurture them to become proactive agents of change in their local communities,” Kosgei narrates.

The name of the organisation was borne “out of the idea that Africans can create positive change by taking responsibility for one African child at a time”, he explains.

According to the 2016 graduate of economics from Technical University of Kenya, the initiative collaborates with organisations such as children’s homes to provide self-awareness and leadership skills to pupils.

“By focusing on Global Citizenship and Peacebuilding Education (GCED), we endeavour to transfer skills in ethical leadership, creativity and innovation to learners; thus creating free spaces for self-expression, imagination and implementation in addressing local issues,” Kosgei explains.

Jeffrey Kosgei with pupils of Father's Lelei Toror Academy in Nandi County during a tree planting activity in their school. PHOTO | COURTESY

Jeffrey Kosgei with pupils of Father’s Lelei Toror Academy in Nandi County during a tree planting activity in their school. PHOTO | COURTESY

He adds that the organisation is 100 percent youth-led, and engages young community leaders in the conceptualisation, planning and implementation of all its humanitarian projects.

“We currently have 15 young people on board, who, besides taking part in our initiatives on a purely voluntary basis, help to fund our projects. To enlist a young person, they must demonstrate a strong passion to work with children,” Kosgei shares.

Compassionate Hands for the Disabled in Ruai, former street boys at Mukuru Promotion Centre and Reli Educational Centre are some of the facilities in Nairobi where the outfit has engaged children through basic computer literacy skills.

Also a devoted environmental activist, Kosgei has co-founded OneChildOneTree, an initiative that builds on education to promote sustainable development by engaging learners in tree planting sessions.

So far, his team has been to tens of schools in Nairobi, Nandi and Uasin Gishu counties, helping the learners to plant thousands of tree seedlings in their schools and localities.

“Besides conducting tree planting activities, we offer environmental education, to demonstrate the importance of conservation efforts and the responsibility that children have towards nature,” says Kosgei, who started volunteering as a student at Kapsabet Boys High School.

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Kosgei has a day job, through which he pays his bills. But volunteer work does not get in the way of his job in the least, he says. “When you are passionate about giving back to the community, you learn to balance between the two without straining either of them. You easily create time for each pursuit,” he says.

He adds: “Volunteering doesn’t mean doing the same thing for an entire day. It can be as little as thirty minutes of your time per week.

What matters is how you spend your spare time. Changing someone’s life usually happens in the first few seconds of your interaction with them.”

Jeffrey Kosgei interacting with pupils of Reli Educational Centre in Nairobi County.

Jeffrey Kosgei interacting with pupils of Reli Educational Centre in Nairobi County. PHOTO | COURTESY

On whether he has benefitted from volunteering, he answers in the affirmative. “My leadership skills have grown tremendously since I embarked on this course in 2012. Through this role, I have met and networked with people from different professional backgrounds and spheres of life through whom I have gathered important life lessons. I am a now a wholesome person and better professional,” he says.

Like all other professional engagements, volunteer work demands certain attributes to realise meaningful results and to derive satisfaction.

“Patience, commitment, empathy and perseverance define me as a volunteer. Occasionally, you will fail to achieve whatever you may have set your eyes on. Other times you may blunder heavily. But you need to recover yourself from such lapses and low moments quickly to forge on,” he advices.

In 2017, Kosgei was among a group of youth from across the country who were recognised by the Ministry of East Africa Affairs in partnership with the Volunteer Involving Organisations Society for their impactful empowerment initiatives aimed at improving lives. He took home the Youth Volunteer of the Year Award.

To other millennials, Kosgei has this to say:

“We may be facing the tough challenge of unemployment as young Kenyans. But that is not to say there are no equally useful ways to contribute to our communities besides our professions.

There are so many areas where we could work as volunteers, to develop our skills and prepare us for other opportunities in future.”

To him, there is no excuse why young people in Kenya should not be actively involved in nation building.

“Step out and be involved in something no matter how small or seemingly unrewarding the opportunity may be. Just don’t be idle,” he adds.

Through his work, Kosgei hopes to inspire other youth to volunteer their money, time and professional skills to change their communities. To him, there is no better time to impact someone’s life than now.

“You may not have resources to finance large projects. But humanitarian work begins and ends with caring for others in the smallest but genuine acts of empathy,” he concludes.



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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

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Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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