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Love for beer cans earns Kenyan approval in US

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By ELIAS MAKORI
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During this merrymaking season, garbage collectors are at full throttle, with discarded beer and soft drinks cans among their principal cluster.

But while the rest of us instinctively toss these cans into trash bins as we fuel our bodies with party liquor, Mr Peter Macharia is making a lucrative career out of collecting them.

The crunching sound of a beer can being destroyed is probably his worst nightmare as he has, so far, collected of over 5,000 used beer cans from all over the world.

He stores them in a well-thought-out, personal basement museum in New Jersey, USA, that was early this year given a seal of approval by the Brewery Collectables Club of America (BCCA).

It is at the “man cave”, as Mr Macharia has nicknamed this basement museum, that you will find him relaxing during his time off work, arranging and taking stock of the collection.

“It’s an interesting hobby and a unique one at that,” says Mr Eutychus Kang’arua, Mr Macharia’s friend who runs Latha Foods, a nyama choma business, in New Jersey.

“He amazes us all with how patiently he collects these cans.”

Mr Macharia travels far and wide to collect the cans, although he mostly purchases them on e-commerce platform, eBay.

Now 44, Mr Macharia grew up in Murang’a County, schooled at Ngamba Primary School, Kamacharia Secondary School and Kirinyaga Technical Training Institute before moving to USA in 2003.

He is currently on a full-time job as a technician at a Mercedes Benz dealership in New Jersey, but his passion for collecting beer cans is as deep as his love for automobile engineering.

“I got my first can in April 2005, although I actually started my collection in 2011,” he told Sunday Nation in an interview last week.

“I was inspired by the beauty of beer cans. They are an amazing work of art and they are collectibles with wild, eye-catching designs — exotic and gaudy. I started with just one can and I now have over 5,000,” he said.

“I collect special beer cans and anything to do with beer, including advertisements, beer mirrors and everything else that comes with beer,” he added.

Mr Macharia got the collection idea from a long-time landlord at a previous residence in the USA.

“He realised I had a few cans that I didn’t throw away, and that’s when he told me I could actually turn beer can collection into a hobby and business.”

“At the time I had nowhere to display the cans and I could just collect them and put them in a box. But now, God has been good and I have a place where I can display them. I value the cans as every can has a beauty of its own kind.”

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“I joined the world’s biggest association of brewery collectors that collects beer cans and breweriana, or anything related to beer, and I now have my BCCA personal number which cannot be given to anyone else worldwide.”

His collection of cans from over 90 countries includes some as old as 83 years of age, dating back to 1935 when the first beer cans were produced, thus catching BCCA’s eye, with the world’s biggest association of brewery collectors recently awarding him a certificate of compliance and recognition on May 25 this year.

Such recognition means Mr Macharia joins a distinguished club of brewery heritage preservation and can exhibit at brewery trade fairs for free.

He also gets to meet other collectors and executives of brewing companies. He is currently the only collector from Africa registered and certified by BCCA.

The hobby of collecting beer cans is a lucrative one too, as collectors get to sell the cans from as low as one dollar to up to as much as $1,000, depending on the age, historical value and aesthetic considerations of the cans.

Mr Jeff Lebo from York Haven, Pennsylvania, is on record as having the largest beer can collection in the world, with 87,000 cans neatly stacked in his Brewhouse Mountain holiday home that doubles up as a $500 room-a-night hotel.

His collection’s value is an estimated $1.9 million and it took Mr Lebo 40 years to collect the cans and two years to neatly put them together at Brewhouse Mountain.

Married with two children — Beatrice, 13, and one-year-old Briana — Mr Macharia hopes to, one day, ship his cans to Kenya and open a museum of collections.

“In 10 to 20 years, I see myself with the biggest brewery museum in Africa.” Interestingly, with all his collection, Mr Macharia isn’t an avid drinker of beer.

“I’m not a beer drinking fan, but one for the road is not a sin!” He says.

As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure; and Mr Macharia is setting himself up to make fortunes out of his beer can collection hobby.

Should he decide to trade, his collection could fetch anything between Sh500,000 and Sh3 million, as the cans are a fine blend of old and new.

And by the way, did you know there is a “National Beer Can Appreciation Day” in USA?

It falls on January 24 in remembrance of the thirst-quenching day beer was first sold in cans, and is definitely distinctly marked out on Mr Macharia’s calendar.



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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.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

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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