Sex pests exploiting child sponsorships for dirty acts

Would you allow a foreigner to take your daughter on a week long holiday without your presence? Or even your boy for that matter?

The lives of these innocent children could be ruined by sex predators masquerading as donors. Nairobi Chronicle photo.

The lives of these innocent children could be ruined by sex predators masquerading as donors. Nairobi Chronicle photo.

Of course, most rational parents would not accept this. Unfortunately, poverty is driving Kenyan parents into turning a blind eye as foreigners sponsoring their children’s education turn the young ones into sex objects.

Investigations by the Nairobi Chronicle have revealed that Kenya is awash with all kinds of characters offering education sponsorship to children from needy families. The foreigners come in the guise of churches, non-governmental organizations, philanthropic groups or simply interested tourists.

Education and household sponsorships by foreigners are highest in Nyanza, Nairobi and Coast provinces. In Nyanza, the huge number of HIV/Aids orphans presents easy prey for sex pests. In the slums of Nairobi and the fishing villages of the Coast, poverty is the main culprit behind the sad tales.

It is believed that there are hundreds of thousands of children in Nyanza province who have lost their parents and close relatives to HIV/Aids. The situation is so bad that in some villages, only elderly people and children are left as all the able bodied persons lie in graves. Some of the children have undergone double tragedies after the relatives who adopted them also died of AIDS.

With nowhere else to go, these children turn to the church for assistance. Mainstream churches, such as the Catholic Church, Anglican and Seventh Day usually have established systems for assisting children with education. It is the smaller Christian denominations that present an opening for child exploitation because these churches are completely dependent on foreign funding.

The pastor will write an appeal for funds to assist orphans with food, clothes and education. Not surprisingly, the appeal is heeded and the money begins to flow. The church finds accommodation for the children either by placing them in local homes or by putting up structures with the money. With time, the ‘donors’ express their intention to visit Kenya and see how their money is being utilized. This is where problems begin.

Foreign sponsors come mostly from Europe and North America. A few of the sponsors may be wealthy individuals from other African countries, including Nigeria and South Africa. Affluent Kenyans have not been left behind either.

The Nairobi Chronicle is not in any way implying that all sponsors are paedophiles. We are just drawing attention to the fact that people are getting access to children without any vetting taking place.

Once the foreigners come to Kenya they have unfettered access to the children. They take them along for trips without a relative or church official accompanying the child for supervisory purposes.

Its not only orphans who are being exploited. The children of poor parents are suffering as well, as the Nairobi Chronicle found out. Once the sponsorship deal is sealed, its only a matter of time before parents are convinced to let their children accompany the sponsors on trips. There’s really no telling what happens during those trips, some of which can last the entire duration of a school holiday.

It is not as though the parents don’t know whatever is going on. Only the very naïve can assume that a middle aged tourist can drive a 14 year old girl 400 kilometres to Nairobi and back, without anything strange happening. Parents are keeping quiet for fear of losing the sponsorship, and hence losing the opportunity to educate their children. The fact that some of these sponsors finance household expenses makes matters very tricky for desperate parents.

A special case from South Nyanza has been brought to the attention of the Nairobi Chronicle: A sponsor from the United States has financed the education of a certain girl from primary school level, through high school and upto University. The sponsor visits every year with gifts for the family. He has visited the girl at every school she has attended and takes her on holiday whenever he comes to Kenya.

With the girl now in University, the American sponsor is visiting her at campus hostels in a powerful 4×4 vehicle. He takes her out, sometimes returning at late hours. More perplexing is the willingness of the young lady to leave classes whenever her benefactor calls for a meeting in town. It is said the woman had an African fiancée but he pulled out because of the unusual circumstances.

In Nairobi, some parents have become so good at finding sponsors that they have a different sponsor for each of their children. However, the sponsorship comes at a price. Sooner or later, the donor will offer to take the children out on holiday after giving the parents an irresistible cash hand out. In some cases, the sponsors take the children back to their countries for, “quality education.”

At the Kenyan Coast, entrenched poverty is pushing parents into seeking foreigners to sponsor their children. At the coast, getting foreign sponsorship is not difficult due to the tourism industry. Modern tourists want to do much more than watching animals, instead, they want to make a difference in the life of an African family. Amidst this noble cause, sex pests have seen an opportunity to satisfy their evil desires.

Like in the case of Nyanza and Nairobi provinces, the sex predator will develop a relationship with the family by providing educational assistance for the children and cash handouts for the unemployed parents. Sooner or later, the sponsor will ask to take the child out for holiday or for further education overseas. Usually, the parents will be too poor to refuse even if they suspect that something is about to happen to their precious child. The family simply cannot afford to bite the hand that feeds them.

An exceedingly moving case was reported in a Kenyan newspaper a couple of years ago. A local woman was found sitting in the lobby of a tourist class hotel. Of course, villagers are not normally found enjoying such luxuries and the hotel staff began inquiries concerning her presence. What they discovered shocked them beyond measure.

The woman had brought her small daughter to visit a foreign sponsor in his hotel room. The woman was waiting for her daughter to finish her “business.” She knew exactly what was going on and she was facilitating the vice.

The Kenyan government seems totally unaware of the ongoing destruction of our children’s morality. Foreign sponsors have learnt to cultivate cordial working relationships with local political and church leaders who even find needy families for them. Many small churches are financed by the same individuals targeting the children of the poor.

The result is the development of a traumatized generation of young people who have been physically, psychologically and emotionally ravaged by involvement in disgusting sex practices. At the Kenya Coast, for example, it is a well known fact that children from poor rural homesteads are getting lured into child pornography. Police officers have captured video tapes and digital photos to prove that the situation is really bad.

These children will never know what a normal, loving sexual relationship is all about. Their introduction to sex was abusive and when they grow up, they will become abusers. Its hardly surprising that cases of rape, incest, group orgies and sex-with-animals are increasing in the country.

The sad bit is that some Kenyan parents are willing to sacrifice their children’s bodies for money. It makes one wonder why they bother having children in the first place if they are not willing – or able – to raise them.

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Report discredits Mount Elgon abuse claims

Kenya’s internal security minister released a report clearing law enforcement and military officials of abuse allegations in the country’s Mount Elgon District.

The results of the police investigation were made public by Internal Security minister Professor George Saitoti. “The government does not condone torture and, in any case, the joint forces were strictly directed to operate within the rule of law,” Prof Saitoti said.

The investigation threw out claims by human rights groups that police and military officials raped and tortured locals while on a mission to remove Sabaot Land Defense Forces from the Mount Elgon region.

Full story on United Press.

Mt Elgon MP got SLDF backing

A report on human rights abuses in Mt Elgon reveals that area Member of Parliament, Fred Kapondi, won the seat after rivals were threatened with death by the Sabaot Land Defence Force. However, Mr Kapondi’s electoral tactics were not unique. The report adds that in the past 15 years, all legislators from the constituency have used armed militias to get to parliament.

Mt Elgon. Its slopes have been witness to horrific torture and killings. Picture by BMS-Travellers

Mt Elgon. Its slopes have been witness to horrific torture and killings. Picture by BMS-Travellers

The report, released this week by Human Rights Watch graphically describes acts of torture committed by the Sabaot Land Defence Force (SLDF) and Kenya’s security forces. In a sense, the people of Mt Elgon are under attack from the two protagonists.

Virtually all males over the age of 10 have been targetted, either for recruitment by the SLDF or for interrogation by the Kenya Army and Police. “Mt. Elgon is a mountain of women, all the men have gone,” lamented a widow who found her husband’s body at the Webuye mortuary, two weeks after he was abducted by the army.

Here are excerpts of the report by Human Rights watch, with damning evidence against Mr Kapondi:

Wilberforce Kisiero, the MP for the former ruling party KANU between 1982 and 1997 was widely cited as one of the proponents of violence in the district. He was implicated in the state sponsored clashes of 1991-93, and named in the Akiwumi report, the parliamentary investigation into the political violence of the 1990s.

John Serut, the MP from 2002 to 2007, and Fred Kapondi, the current MP elected in 2007, were accused by local residents and human rights organizations of working to recruit, train, and finance militia who intimidated opponents in the 1997, 2002, and 2007 elections.

Having initially worked together (Kapondi was formerly KANU party chairman in the district), by the time of the 2007 General Elections, Serut and Kapondi had fallen out, according to residents. After that, the SLDF began to target supporters of Serut, including Serut himself. An area chief explained that because Serut supported the Chepyuk III settlement scheme against the wishes of most within the SLDF, Kapondi got a chance to run the boys, and this gave him the political powerbase he needed to win the election.

A neighbor of Kapondi told how he was repeatedly harassed by SLDF ‘boys’ who had a training camp on Kapondi’s land. Another chief described Kapondi leading a recruitment drive in his area for young men to join the SLDF in 2006. Kapondi was arrested in April 2007 and charged with robbery with violence in Webuye court, a non-bailable offense. He was nominated as the ODM candidate while in custody and acquitted on December 13, 2007, just days before the election.

Court officials told Human Rights Watch that the prosecution case collapsed when witnesses started disappearing and others changed their stories. Human rights activists described seeing the court packed with known SLDF militia during hearings.

Kapondi and others were also named in parliament by the then MP, John Serut, who accused them of fueling the clashes. But Serut himself, along with Kisiero and another former MP, Joseph Kimkung, were named by the government spokesman in a report seeking to identify the backers of the violence. Local residents say they have all been involved at various stages.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: It should be noted that former MP, John Serut, was implicated in a sexual harassment case at Parliament Buildings involving a female parliamentary staffer. This was just days after he was sworn into office early 2003.

More excerpts from Human Rights Watch:

Origins of the Mt Elgon land dispute:
Land disputes between two clans of the Sabaot tribe began in the 1920s. Colonial authorities forced these groups out of the Trans Nzoia area in order to pave way for white settlers. The Sabaot clans resettled in Mt Elgon forest at two locations: Chebyuk and Chepkitale.

In 1968, Chepkitale was declared a game reserve and its inhabitants forced out. Inhabitants evicted from Chepkitale complained, and in 1971 the government initiated a resettlement program for the displaced at the other location, Chepyuk. In effect, the government was trying to force the inhabitants of two villages into the area occupied by one. Moreover, the resettlement exercise was placed in the hands of area chiefs, local land officials, provincial administrators, councillors and members of parliament, many of whom were accused of corrupt practices in the allocation of land.

The Kenyan government evicted people originating from both areas from various locations that had been designated parts of the settlement scheme, and made a second attempt to allocate the land, known as Chepyuk II in 1989. This was equally controversial.

In 1993 the government of President Daniel arap Moi annulled the Chepyuk settlement scheme completely and ordered the creation of a third scheme, Chepyuk III. By now the population had increased even further. Because of controversy and complications, Phase three was never fully implemented and remained an apparently dormant issue throughout the 1990s.

After the 2005 referendum, the third phase was finally implemented but the exercise was marred by massive irregularities. This was a feature of the broader political conflict between the then sitting member of parliament for Mt. Elgon, John Serut, and his then protégé the future MP, Fred Kapondi.

What is the Sabaot Land Defence Force?

The SLDF is an armed group organized and funded by local politicians, although the actual politicians in control have changed over time. The SLDF is very similar in its activities to the majimboist groups that were armed by the state in 1991-92 and 1996-97 to drive out non-Kalenjin groups (mostly Luhya in Mt. Elgon) who were unlikely to vote for the ruling KANU party. This happened in Mt. Elgon, as well as across the Rift Valley and coastal provinces in the elections of 1992 and 1997.

The political objectives of the SLDF become clear when one looks at the pattern of attacks, the ethnicity and political affiliation of the victims, and the relationship between the timing of violence and the electoral cycle. Basically, the SLDF, as with many other armed groups in Kenya, has twin purposes, on the one hand land-related objectives, and on the other to further the political aims of certain local leaders.

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More of this report on the Human Rights Watch website.

Schools unrest sign of changed society

The ongoing unrest in boarding high schools exemplifies the changed Kenyan society, manifested in a national student rebellion against outdated systems, failed authority and derelict facilities.

Those who have visited Kenyan boarding schools in recent years will not be surprised at ongoing events. If anything, what should surprise observers is why it took so long for the situation to boil over. Counsellors say the post-election violence that left hundreds dead and close to half a million homeless may have taught teenagers that violence is a legitimate means of expressing long-held grievances.

As usual, the Kenyan government was caught unprepared, only holding a crisis meeting after a student was killed last weekend at Nairobi’s Upperhill high school. This was the first fatality since unrest began in high schools a couple of months ago. Again as usual, the government vowed a crackdown on ringleaders of strikes while threatening to punish fuel station attendants who sold petrol to teenagers in school uniform.

There is really no indication that the state will deal with the root causes of student unrest which include antiquated disciplinary systems, a changed society, overstretched schools and a poor example of leadership set by politicians.

Kenyan boarding schools are extremely miserable places, especially for the teenager of the 21st century. Physical, emotional and sexual abuse of students is rife. Going to boarding school is almost akin to serving a prison sentence due perverse restrictions on clothing, telephones, radio, newspapers and television. Teachers routinely intercept and read student letters so as not to, “distract learning.”. Students are subjected to humiliating searches on their property and selves, with little indication of what actually is being sought.

Girls in Kenyan schools submit to crude “pregnancy tests,” which may involve teachers conducting a “physical” examination. The humiliation is unjustified when pregnancy kits are readily available in the market. Years after high school, many women shed tears at memories of these tests.

Dormitories are congested, usually holding double the intended capacity. In some schools, double decker beds have been replaced with triple deckers. There is no privacy and this has an impact on the emotional development of budding young people.

Toilets are clogged due to over-use. In some of the so-called national schools, sewage flows into sleeping quarters. Sewer rats thrive in these environments and its suprising that an outbreak of bubonic plague has not been reported. Most of our schools lack adequate water supply and this worsens the already bad sanitation problem. Clearly, you have blocked toilets that cannot be cleaned for lack of water.

Kenyan students are expected to do their own laundry as part of acquiring life skills but the lack of water makes this activity extremely challenging. In some rural schools, wearing dirty clothes for a month is becoming the norm, as congested boarding schools compete with neighboring communities for scarce water resources. In other areas, students must do their laundry on river banks. For those students coming from urban areas, these changes make them susceptible to violent reaction.

But by far the greatest contributor to student unrest is the tyrannical authority system in schools and which has existed since colonial times. The typical boarding school in Kenya is headed by a Principal, who is basically the Chief Executive of the school. The Principle appoints a Head boy/girl to command a prefect body that oversees students. Below the Head student will be the House captains, in charge of each dormitory followed by cube prefects typically responsible for about 10 students each. On the classroom side, each block of classes is headed by a Block captain while each classroom has a class monitor.

The prefects body is a hierarchical structure, where authority is greatly abused by the Principal and the prefects. There have been numerous cases of prefects assaulting other students with hardly any sanction from the school principle. Prefects get better accommodation, better food and greater academic opportunities than the rest of students. The word of the Principal and the prefects is as good as law. There is no opportunity for dialogue between students and the authority structure, and this contributes to bitterness within the student body.

Boarding schools were not always like this. The older generation of Kenyans who went to boarding school between the 1940s and 1970s have fond memories of the experience. Many of them came from traditional rural environments, making boarding school their first exposure to electricity, flushing toilets and clean uniforms. Indeed, many of the older generation wore shoes for the first time when they went to boarding school. The schools of the time were staffed mostly by European missionaries whose mode of discipline was both soft and firm. The missionaries were determined to impart Christianity and European values on their charges. Students were taught how to use a knife and fork, how to wear a tie, how to make a home and so on. Discipline levels were high but not authoritarian. Students were free to speak their minds as long as they did not blaspheme God or insult teachers.

The boarding schools of today may as well exist in a warped universe. Europeans have been replaced by indigenous Kenyan personnel. Nobody bothers to teach such important things as decorum, dressing and housekeeping. The emphasis is purely on academics, explaining why A Grade students are emotionally stunted. Physical facilities constructed by the colonialists are falling apart. Schools designed for 300 students now hold 700. The student-teacher ratio is appalling.

Dissent is not tolerated among teachers and students. Mediocrity has taken hold, as poorly qualified teachers get jobs due to influence from political godfathers. In some parts of Kenya, local communities insist only on teachers from their own tribes. Meddling by politicians eager to win votes has ruined many schools.

Teachers have turned students into sexual prey. The phenomenon of sex-for-grades cannot be ignored any longer. Male teachers are guilty of misleading girls into love affairs, though there have been a few cases of women teachers doing the same. In Migori and Kuria areas of Kenya, cases of male teachers marrying their own female students are rife.

In other words, unlike the case 50 years ago, the teachers of today are the enemies of the student. Should Kenyans, then, be surprised that students are rebelling against a repugnant authority?

The ongoing school unrest is an indicator that serious reforms are required, especially in the boarding school system. The concept of taking children to a secluded rural environment with no access to modern facilities is as outdated as it gets. The world is moving very fast and its time Kenya borrowed a leaf from the education systems of more developed countries. Maintaining the current system on the basis of, “this is how its always been done,” is a sure recipe for failure.

Missouri Kenyan charged with injuring own child

Posted on May 24, 2008 by kenyanobserver

Brian Kariuki, 20, of Creighton, MO, has been arrested and is in the Cass county jail in Harrisonville, MO accused of causing serious injury to a 3-month old infant. The infant was taken to Childrens’ Mercy Hospital by the grand-mother after she noticed symptoms of what she thought were seizures.

Creighton, MO is 58 miles south-east of Kansas City, MO.

Kariuki and his girlfriend lived in the basement of her mother’s house in Creighton, MO.

Because he is in the United States on a visa, an automatic immigration hold without bond has been placed upon his release from the county jail.

Full Story – Cass County Democrat Missourian