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TALES OF COURAGE: A horrific crash shattered my basketball dreams

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By DIANA MUTHEU
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Kennedy Oyando,35,reaped rich rewards from his basketball talent throughout his childhood and his star was on the rise when tragedy struck.

From the time he was in high school at Shimo la Tewa Boys, through to his university years at Makerere , he was on full scholarships courtesy of his exceptional basketball skills.

Kennedy began playing basketball at the age of seven at the Kenya Ports Authority Youth Academy. He continued to play well into his teen years and by the time he was completing Form Four, he was an undisputed basketball champion in the entire coast region.

When he moved to Uganda for his A levels, he played for the Eagles’ Nest, Falcon, Miracle and Najjah basketball clubs as a lead player. He had a promising career in professional basketball.

Unfortunately, his basketball aspiration was cut short by a traumatising road accident that happened in 2006.

Kennedy had just come from basketball practice and decided to board a motorcycle. As they approached a junction, an over speeding truck appeared from nowhere and ran over them.

“The motorbike driver died instantly. My ankles were crashed and I spent 16 months in Mulago hospital, Uganda,” he narrates.

Prior to the accident, Kennedy had applied for a visa to Canada with the hope of playing for one of the basketball clubs there.

The anguish of crushed dreams weighed down on him heavily. He also had to shoulder a hefty bill of about Sh400,000 to cater for his treatment.

Kennedy spent days on end lying on the hospital bills as feelings of anger and helplessness washed over him.

The emotional turmoil and frustration made him quite resentful and he would often hurl insults at the nurses who attended to him at the hospital. He was in a dark hole of hopelessness. He also lost his scholarship at Makerere University since he couldn’t play for the club that had sponsored his education.

“I felt like a loser. I was traumatised and lived in denial for a very long time.”

Once he recovered, his parents urged him to come back home where he would have adequate rest and recuperate fully before going back to the court.

He heeded their advice, packed his bags and returned to Kenya.

“I could not play basketball anymore but my love for the sport did not fade away. After meditating for a while on what to do next, I decided to train other players and nurture their talent in the sport.”

Kennedy began coaching young basketball players from around June 2007. He started with the boys’ basketball team at Shimba Hills High School in Kwale County.

“The boys’ team did well and managed to be number five in the national competitions. I later moved to Mbaraki Girls High School in Mombasa. I introduced basketball to the school, trained the players who managed to clinch position two in their very first competition at the regional level.”

In 2009, Kennedy, formed his first basketball club known as Gorofani Raptures that comprised of players aged below 20.

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During their first Match in Mombasa Basketball League Associations (MBLA), it emerged position three beating 13 other teams that competed in the match. Once again, things were looking up as his career in the sport took a new dimension from a champion player to an award winning basketball coach.

In 2013, Kennedy registered a foundation known as Sports for Education, Entertainment and Development (SEED). This was move was prompted by his desire to give back to the community by nurturing young talents in the field of sports.

Two of his friends joined him in the noble cause and netted sponsors who donated jerseys, balls, cones, bibs and other materials needed by the players.

In addition to nurturing basketball talents, SEED foundation also engages in personal development of the young players and where need arise, sponsors their education.

Since its inception, the foundation has helped 100 students pursue their secondary education and also explore their talent in basketball.

“The students are chosen from various counties in the country. We have managed to provide full scholarship for 80 students. Also, through the programmes children from other countries like Tanzania, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi have benefitted,” the coach says adding that 18 players were fetched from refugee camps like Kakuma, educated and trained to be professional players.”

“I work closely with coaches in those countries and we have synchronised the programme to be one. We want to help the less fortunate in the society and also inculcate good morals and help young talents get education.”

In 2017, Kennedy, popularly known as coach, formed his second basketball club, Weka Weka warriors which hit the ground running by managing to scoop position 9 out of 22 in the MBLA games in their very first game.

“We are awaiting play-offs starting September 22 which will be happening at KPA gymnasium, Makande,” Kennedy says enthusiastically.

In 2017, a talent scout from USA attended the regional match played by St Georges basketball team at Kenyatta high school, Taita-Taveta and awarded scholarships to four players in the team.

“Currently, six scouts, three from Europe, two from USA and one from Canada are willing to support some of our players.”

CHALLENGES
“Financial constraints are among the major challenge we are facing. We are helping the youth to shun away from bad habits. Both the county and national governments should support us. They should also believe in us because people from other countries are doing so,” points out Kennedy.

Kennedy says that the accident was an opportunity, a closed door that opened a window for many young basketball players.

“It was God’s plan. Maybe I could not have achieved what I have achieved now. We hope to start sports clinic and also start training players as early as four years. The earlier they start training, the better they become.”



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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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