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WOMAN OF PASSION: An eye for art





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Asha Mohammed, 27, is an interior designer. Some of her reviewers describe her as ‘a woman with magic hands’.

Interestingly, she didn’t attend any interior designing school. She swears by YouTube. Asha, however, confesses that sometimes, it’s hard to point out the source of her ideas, only that, she is passionate about what she does.

But a few years ago, this is a profession that Asha had not given much attention. In college, she studied human resource so if she followed that trajectory, she would probably be in an office making policies.

“After completing my studies in 2013, I immediately got a job as a human resource officer with a local parastatal. Unfortunately, I found it to be routinely and monotonous. Does it ever feel like your days are all the same? That’s exactly how it felt,” she says.

To relieve herself of boredom, she started watching online make-up tutorials during her free time and soon, she was hooked. “I had my wedding in 2012 and for a long time, I knew that something was off with my make-up – but I couldn’t tell what. Then, I didn’t know any better. When I started watching the videos, I was stunned!”

This marked the beginning of a whole new experience and for the next three months, she saved up to buy original make-up products. Although they are pricey, she was keen on starting right.

Asha started practising make-up application on her sister. Towards the end of 2013, she got together with a few friends and formed a Facebook Group, Glam Life. “The intention was to bring make-up artists and enthusiasts together so we would learn and help each other grow. Currently, the group has more than 150,000 members,” she says.

Soon, she started getting many requests and referrals from the members of the group and the more she practiced, the more she thirsted for the art. “At the start, I was shy about taking new jobs fearing that I wouldn’t deliver – I wanted to be certain that I could offer exceptional services to my clients. However, the accolades I got from my satisfied clients gave me the motivation to quit my job in 2014. Interestingly, I used to earn more from my side hustle than the main job. The transition was so seamless that I didn’t even have to worry about the decision,” she says.


While social media platforms such as YouTube and Pinterest have been her training ground and her strongest tools, the mother of three confesses that her parents have been her greatest role models.

“One of the greatest lessons I picked from my parents is the power of my hands and mind. My siblings and I were raised by parents who were entrepreneurs. As a family, we would make samosas together then my dad goes to sell. I value teamwork,” she says.

Asha also believes in mentorship so when she started warming up to the idea of interior designing, she passed her make-up skills and products to an upcoming make-up artist and went fully into interior designing last year.

“I was in my bedroom one day when I realised that I spend most of my time there. However, I didn’t like the colour of the walls and I wasn’t in a position to hire the services of an interior designer. With the help of my sister, I re-painted the walls. I posted online and the responses were overwhelming. I formed another group, Glam My Home, where I got my first clients from,” she says.

“Although I am based in Nairobi, I offer my services to clients in different parts of the country,” she says. “Before embarking on any project with my team, I research a lot about service providers in the particular area we are going. Also, I am big on networking because I believe that people are the most important resources one can have.”

However, she says that it can get difficult at times. “In my field, I meet different personalities and some are clients who want to give instructions. If you tell an interior designer ‘I want this wall painted blue and the seats upholstered to teal’, you limit their creativity. Creatives thrive best when they are left to maximise their potential,” she says.

She loves what she does, so much that it doesn’t feel like she’s working. She enjoys driving and shopping which is what this job entails about.

“Through the years, I have discovered that I am a risk taker and it is really liberating. Also, I am not afraid to dream big or make huge targets. I aspire to be the name that comes up when people talk of a remarkable interior designer,” she concludes.


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




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.


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




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




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.


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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