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THE DISH: A Mexican birthday party – PHOTOS

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By ABIGAIL ARUNGA
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One of my sisters is Mexican, and thus I have decided (okay, okay, we decided. Together. As a family unit) that I can get into the honorary Mexican Citizenship Hall Of Fame, after I learn how to build me liquor up to that level.

(Travel/drinking tip: Don’t drink with Mexicans. It’s almost as bad as drinking with loose Kenyans. You won’t be able to keep up. Why? They’ve had more practice. Clubs in the States close at 2am, so they have to do more in a limited time. It’s a race you WILL lose. Bueno?)

The skull centrepiece and paper flowers decorations at the back. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

The skull centrepiece and paper flowers decorations at the back. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

But I digress. I was taken to a child’s birthday party, and I have decided I must have a birthday party exactly like that. Even though my birthday this year was at a Mexican restaurant, after attending this one over the weekend, I decided it was not enough.

So this little girl’s birthday theme was Coco, the animation that won a bunch of awards, which you should watch if you haven’t. It’s a really great movie. Everyone cries.

I couldn't get enough of these skull napkins. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

I couldn’t get enough of these skull napkins. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

The seating area with paper decorations outside the house. The party guests tend to sit at little tables, like families. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

The seating area with paper decorations outside the house. The party guests tend to sit at little tables, like families. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

There were traditional Mexican decorations hanging everywhere, like square snowflakes cut out of paper and hung across the cake eating area, a guitar shaped cake, and napkins with festive skulls on them. There were multicoloured skull centrepieces in the middle of the table too that held small candles, and skull piñatas.

For the record, there were many skulls because the happenings of Coco take place on the Day of the Dead, or Dia De Muertos, which is a three-day celebration of the dead (not to be confused with Halloween).

Wieners served at the party. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

Wieners served at the party. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

Straight to the food after we’ve done décor: Mexican food is a must, obviously. You can vary the different food you want, as there is obviously a lot to choose from. Nachos and melted cheese are in plenty, as well as grilled sausages, for before all the guests arrive, or as a starter, if you so prefer.

You can go with the most immediate choice, seeing as these were also in the movie: tamales. Tamales are little pockets of food made from corn dough (masa) and stuffed with meat.

Tamales. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

Tamales. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

They are usually wrapped in banana leaves or corn husks, so be sure to take those off before you eat the tastiness inside. Like a gift! At a birthday! Get it?

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The corn kind of tastes like ugali made from corn – a bit looser, though, so I prefer a lot more meat in my tamale (HA!) as well. You can have vegetarian tamales too, and put potatoes in with jalapeños and cheese.

There must be beer at a party. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

There must be beer at a party. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

For drinks? Horchata, a drink made from cinnamon, vanilla and rice water, which means it’s dairy free and health conscious. There’s also agua de limón, water with lemon or lime, and cucumber. For an adult party like mine, there will be margaritas, or cerveza (beer) like Modelo Especial.

And then for my absolutely favourite part: dessert. Or should I say, the dessert ritual?

Because it was a kid’s party, there were two options: one, raspudo, i.e. a snow cone made of crushed ice scooped into a cup with a flavour poured over it, and two, a guitar shaped (of course) piñata, which is built from papier-mâché or cardboard and filled with candy.

Raspudo, which is a snow cone made of crushed ice scooped into a cup with a flavour poured over it. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

Raspudo, which is a snow cone made of crushed ice scooped into a cup with a flavour poured over it. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

As two adults suspend the piñata, a line of kids (from youngest to oldest, to be fair) come and whack the piñata with a stick so that the candy falls out. It’s so much fun! I have been told that plastic bottles of alcohol are acceptable for my party.

A boy hits a piñata at the party. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

A boy hits a piñata at the party. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

The cake was a tres leches cake, rapidly climbing to the top of my list of favourite cakes (at home, Mercado does a really good tres leches cake). Tres leches literally means three types of milk, because it is a sponge cake soaked in heavy cream, condensed milk and evaporated milk.

Strawberries are optional but preferred in my case. This one had strawberries, and was perfect.

And at the end of the party, everyone got a gift bag with Mexican candy in it. (Mexican candy i.e. not sweet, more sour and savoury, to prepare you for tequila later in life).

The take-home candy. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

The take-home candy. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

The bag that the free take-home candy came in. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

The bag that the free take-home candy came in. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

And that, friends, is how to throw a Mexican birthday party.

Now to the question we’ve all been asking – why did that Mr Vegas song go ‘she’s a tamale‘?

Wondering where to get the 411 on what’s happening in Nairobi’s foodie scene? There’s a lot of places you could go, but here’s where we want you to be – getting the dish on the dish. Get it? We knew you would.



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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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