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WOMAN OF PASSION: Healthy eating for healthy skin

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By FLORENCE BETT-KINYATTI
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Kajuju Kiogora, 25, started her food business after adjusting her diet to be rid of severe acne. She talks to Florence Bett-Kinyatti about the genesis of her business.

“I developed acne when I was 18. My face had been smooth since adolescence and through high school – I didn’t understand where the acne was coming from at this age. I broke out in painful blisters and scarred. It was so bad that strangers on the street would wince and comment, giving me tips on what I could do to clear it. It hurt my self-esteem.

“My mother took me to see countless dermatologists. They wrote me prescriptions. I applied creams, swallowed tablets for my hormones, washed my face with medicated soaps, there was even a doctor who told me not to wash my face. It was exhausting and depressing, to tell you the truth. I wore a lot of make-up to cover the acne but make-up blocked my pores and worsened it. Not once did any doctor ask me about my diet.

“I relocated to the UK in 2012 for my degree in law and business management. I needed to address the acne so I researched online about how diet affects our skin and overall health. I gradually made positive changes to what ended up on my plate. Most people don’t make this dietary change gradually, that’s why they end up failing at it.

“I noticed a change when I cut out dairy. First, I cut out yoghurt, which I absolutely loved, then I cut out cheese, butter and milk. After dairy, I cut out red then white meat. I made sure I got my nutrients from plant-based proteins like cereals and legumes such as beans. I cooked my food in my hostel using olive and coconut oils. It’s unfortunate that these healthy oils cost as much as they do, because it limits the ability to eat healthy for people within a certain income level. For my face, I also used plant-based cleansers and toners – aloe vera gel, grape seed oil, apple cider vinegar and rose water.

“The acne went away completely by 2015 and started me on this path that ultimately led me to my passion and purpose. Being in the UK gave me access to products that supported my lifestyle change. I launched a blog in 2016 called Healthy Kajuju where I shared recipes of my healthy meals. I experimented with different combinations of different foods. My audience was receptive because the food and recipes I was sharing were simple, delicious and made from healthy ingredients – none of that dull and difficult-to-make stuff usually associated with healthy eating. One of my favourite recipes was for baked sweet potatoes, a dish I still love.

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“I did my post-graduate at the London School of Economics immediately after graduating University of Leeds. I returned home in late 2016 and got straight into my business. My parents were supportive of my idea because they too are part-time entrepreneurs. Doing an undergraduate in law and business also gave me a sound base to build my business.

“I began by making fresh juices, I’d sell them at the organic farmer’s market on Sundays. I was also making snacks like energy bites, granola bars and breakfast cereals. I was eager to invest in a high-end juicer but my parents advised me to be patient and give the business time to grow. It was sound counsel because a year later, I stopped making the juices so I could focus on growing the snacks arm. I was disciplined enough to reinvest every single shilling I made back into the business – reinvesting financed my growth.

“All our products are made fresh with oats imported from Russia and UK. The oats grown in Kenya are for animal consumption. The quality of the seed is not that great either. I bake granola, muesli and wholegrain clusters from oats, dried fruit, dates, honey, peanut butter and coconut oil. I don’t use any artificial or processed ingredients.

“We’re not yet KEBS certified. On the one hand, KEBS doesn’t support cottage industries with a license. On the other hand, reaching to meet their licensing criteria pushed me to get a commercial kitchen and invest in equipment.

“I eventually want to use brown paper instead of plastic, for packaging. I also want to expand our product line and have more flavours. That takes time. Our granola recipe, for instance, took three months to get the sweetness right.

“I’d been doing everything in the business alone: I was baking, managing sales and marketing, and doing deliveries. I remember once staying up all night to bake for one of the farmer’s market and I was drowsy as I drove there. Now I have two bakers and a rider for deliveries. Delegating frees up my time to engage with our social media audience and approach stockists.

“We’re stocked at a handful of shops and gyms. I learned an important lesson here: I’d been worried because we weren’t making good sales at the markets. So one day, I put products in the boot and drove around gyms in Gigiri. I told them who I am and what I’m selling. It was the last gym that gave me a chance to stock our granola bars. As an entrepreneur, you must go out there and talk to people because nobody knows who you are.”



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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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