Maryana Munyendo, founder Missing Child Kenya. www.missingchild.co.ke
Greetings winning warrior.
On our Facebook page @Kara Olmurani, we had a live show with Maryana Munyendo, who is the Founder and executive director of Missing Child Kenya
She comes with a wealth of book knowledge but more importantly she has worked in the children’s sector in different capacities for many years and it is in her interactions with children affairs that she realized the gaps that are there that allowed many issues fall through the cracks. For example having no national data base in Kenya on missing children, parent’s not knowing what to do once they realize their child is missing and the community lacking in capacity of the steps to follow were some of the things that pushed Maryana to start the not for profit organization.
Missing Child Kenya depends a lot on the power of community leverage. Community is their biggest strength in terms of crowd sourcing for their alerts, since it is people on their platform that share these alerts.
In Kenya we are having a first, when it comes to the length our children will be away from school since the government has declared children will not be going back to school this year until 2021. This news came with a lot of challenges to the children and to the parents. Some of the children, home is not safe and so school would be their best escape. As for parents some feel caged with their children’s presence, many worrying how they will continue to feed them and meet other needs on a daily basis for so long in the same house from dusk to dawn. We talked about several ways we can keep our children safe despite the challenges being faced in different families given each family has different make up or structures governing them.
Maryana once again reminded us it is in the family set up that a child should thrive, where there is love, care and concern. Unfortunately, not all homes provide these things and thus the coming saying prevention is better than cure. In Africa we say, it takes a village to raise a child. We are a communal people and this setting has its advantages if we go back to what it was meant to be in the first place. She pointed out 2 things that should help in the safety of our children.
1. Shared responsibility is important in our homes, so that when a parent is not there, there are people looking out for our children.
2. Empowering the children, talking about personal safety is key since we cannot be around them 24 hours. Having the uncomfortable conversation in many African families about sex should be something that needs to be done of course keeping in mind age appropriate conversations surrounding the topic. If we do not engage in these conversations our children will get them in one way or another. This safety skills helps our children become more assertive.
The most important thing our children need is to have conversations with them and not assume they do not know or giving them directives without any explanations.
Currently with the case that has hit the media houses in Kenya, of an 8 year girl whom the father had turned to be his wife after their mother left due to alcoholism. The father went further to instruct the other 2 younger children to call their sister mum. We noted how wrong this act was and how we need to remove the stigma from the girl and instead the talk should be more on the man and his actions. This will help with fighting victim blaming and put the burden on the community in this case. We have to break the secrecy many homes have built especially when it comes to a family member being the perpetrator.
This conversation is far from over and so next week we will continue on more about safety for our children, this time looking at online safety which can be very challenging to try and control something we have no control over as Maryana put it so well.
Stay safe during this pandemic as we all strive to ensure our children’s safety
See you next week for the continuation of safety for our children on our Warrior Wednesday interactions.