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The sponsor phenomenon: Greed or desperation?

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By SONI KANAKE
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The Nigerians call them ‘mentors’. In South Africa they are referred to as ‘blessers’. Here, we call them ‘sponsors’.

They tend to be married men of substantial age – in comparison to the women they date – who have girlfriends who they finance in exchange for sex and bragging rights.

We all know what is in this arrangement for the men – sexual variety on demand and someone to show off to his friends.

There is the assumption that all women get into such relationships to eat life with a big spoon. Is this always true? Clarissa* grew up in the village in a poor family.

When she found herself a sponsor, her daughter was two and the man responsible had walked, leaving her with the responsibility of raising their child alone.

And not just that – she was also expected to send money back home to support her parents’ monthly medications and hospital reviews as well as chip in her siblings’ education. Although she had just landed a new job, the pay was meagre and it would not support all her obligations.

Her fortunes soon changed when she met Musa, an old, wealthy man who had businesses both locally and abroad. “I wasn’t looking for a sponsor but Musa was kind and was genuinely interested in the plight of my family,” she says. “The first thing he did was give me money to rent a cab to ferry my parents to Nairobi for a review. He also made sure I had enough money to put them up in a good, classy hotel in town, pending their lab results, as my house was too tiny to host them.”

Five years later, Clarissa says she has no regrets. “I’ve been to nearly every continent in the world. I guess the only place I’ve never visited is Australia,” she says. Her sponsor, who was about 65 when they met, moved her from Eastlands to the leafy suburbs of Kileleshwa.

She always accompanies him on all his business and leisure trips abroad. Musa also bought his PYT (pretty young thing) a car though she complained that he had it installed with a car tracking device to monitor her whereabouts. “He’s quite possessive and wants to know my every move,” confesses Clarissa.

With a monthly allowance of Sh200,000 and a thriving business, her daughter enrolled in one of the prestigious schools in the country. Clarissa relaxed and soon started adding weight. “I didn’t like the way I looked, especially since I had put on too much weight around my waist,” confesses Clarissa.

The former village girl was introduced to plastic surgery by one of her friends and she managed to convince Musa to pay the surgeon’s fee of US$5,000, accommodation and travelling expenses to the US for a liposuction.

Today she owns a home in Riverside, thanks to Musa. Clarissa, however, confesses that a sponsor makes you dependent on them so much so that even when you make your own money you still want them to continue helping you financially. Now that Clarissa has her own money and is financially stable, does she have plans of detaching from Musa? “It is hard to let go because you have also become emotionally attached to him,” she says.

Florence* found herself a sponsor for almost the same reasons as Clarissa. “I have two children,” she says. “The father of my first child, a girl, relocated abroad and absconded his parental responsibilities. I met Tim when I was in my early 20s and he was in his late 50s.”

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Since then, he has helped her get a leg up. “The man opened doors for me,” she says. He not only took care of her but also her daughter, and gave her an opportunity to access quality education. And even when she sired him a son, Tim continued to provide for both children without discriminating, she says.

Florence now runs a successful business and travels frequently to the US and Europe. “I’m not your typical ‘slay queen’ who’s looking for a sponsor to rescue her including buying her credit for her phone. It’s more like a partnership and I’m doing this to secure the future of my kids. I have done all the heavy lifting (it takes to secure my income),” she says.

“Women should not put us down just because we want a little better for ourselves. It’s not as easy as it looks, too. Being beautiful and looking presentable will open doors for you but you also have to be an intelligent woman to have a man at your beck and call,” Florence explains. “You have to look the part. Don’t wear cheap clothes or perfume and expect him to take you on his yatch,” says Florence. I’m also a hard-working woman and not just expecting a man to come and rescue me from poverty,” she continues.

It would appear that men are always willing to come to the rescue of a damsel-in-distress. Carol narrates how she met a certain local law maker in New York, USA, during a business forum. “We shared a few drinks and I mentioned to him that I needed to buy a few things for a project I was working on back home,” she says. “He asked me how much I needed and I looked him in the eye and said US$3,000 (Sh300,000), which he assured me he would give me the following day… and he did!”

Linda,* now in her mid 30s, says she had a time of her life when she dated Tony, in his 50s, for the two years they were together. “He was an understanding man and told me that if I ever wanted to get married, he would support me,” reveals Linda.

Having been dumped for an older woman in her previous relationship, Linda was heartbroken and her self-esteem plummeted. “Tony was just what the doctor ordered. He was always available for me, treated me right and helped rebuild my self-esteem,” she confesses. “When his wife discovered about me, I opted out. Tony was such a generous soul that he gave me enough money to settle,” says Linda.

As much as these ladies say their lives have overall improved and it probably would have taken a lifetime to achieve what they have, they maintain they do not do it out of greed but to enhance their lives.

That said, we cannot turn a blind eye to the possible negative outcomes of such relationships, including murder of the young women and we are left wondering whether it really is worth it. Probably the bottom-line is to realise that everything we do has consequences.



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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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