INTERNET–A HOPE IN THE DESERT
Here is my story of faith and action through internet. The internet has helped me achieve different goals in many ways. It is not just a simple success story that is unfolding in this journal, but meant to celebrate the past and affirmation of hope in the internet for future. It seeks to face the realities of the present and look to future with an open mind.
ACCESS TO JOB OPPORTUNITIES AND IMPROVED LIVELIHOOD:
One day upon arrival at home, from conducting a capacity assessment and Participatory Integrated Community Development Process for Civil Society Organizations in Juba Southern Sudan; things went upside down. I found my husband had left home having expressed discomfort with my financial independence and my international assignments. He left me, never to return, leaving all the care for our two children up to me. I got much disoriented and in the process, had to leave my job. For a long while, I did not have a job. Later in the year through internet job search I managed to get a job with Comitato Internazionale Perlosviluppo De Popoli (CISP) in Malindi, Kenya. The job came at a time I was in the wilderness and it brought hope and transformation in my life… thanks to the internet.
INTERNET AND WOMEN SOCIAL ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT
Internet has enable women affected and infected with HIV&AIDS improve their social economic status. As Friendly Integrated Development Initiative in Poverty Alleviation (FIDIPA) an NGO that seeks community empowerment and access justice for all; one of our programs is to support grannies and young women affected and infected with HIV&AIDS, to increase their capacity and improve their social and economic status. The women make beads baskets, and conduct agribusiness activities. See some of their pictures attached. Through internet and technology the women’s products are photographed and shared with others who provide support in different parts of the world. Dr. Josephine Munthali in UK a FIDIPA associate did support the women at some point through purchasing their items through internet. The items are sent as cargo and money wired in return. Join me in appreciating internet services for not only supporting this vulnerable group, by putting a smile on their faces, but also for the fact that it enables connection for a worthy cause. Who would have imagined that some of these widows in small villages could communicate with the international community and facilitate a life changing experience!.See some friends from Angels who care USA visited the group in Kayole and purchased some of their items. The proceeds have empowered them to provide for their basic needs and also to acquire phones, which enable them to access internet services at any time in their houses and workplace, making it safe, time saving and private. See more pictures attached.
EXPOSURE, NETWORK AND INSPIRATION
Internet has helped me popularize my music and exposure, as a Gospel Artiste. I got nominated for Extreme Awards 2013 and posted my details on face book and requested people to vote. I found this convenient and affordable way of reaching my fans, family and friends to walk with me in my journey of music. I believe through internet, radio and telephone communication enabled my winning the award as Nyanza Artiste of the year 2013. See my face book account www.facebook.com/nyapaul.jaynepaul. Through face book posts, interviews both radio and TV many upcoming Artistes get inspired, a fact they have confirmed through text messages.
Through internet you-tube, I have managed to connect and get both local and international invitation to minister in conferences, crusades, weddings and concerts. The next one will be in Mid September in South Africa. See some of my songs on YouTube Rangach in dholuo language meaning‘gate’which basically calls for celebrating Jesus in my life www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClleYOKD8zcEmmanueli in Kiswahiliis a Christmas song www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsnZc9RjoRgErokamano in dholuo language meaning thank you www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B9VrXH_q6s, Mbegugani, meaning which seed. The song calls on all Kenyans to wake up and denounce corruption cases without fear www.youtube.com/watch?v=gucbctBqoTk Lwandana in dholuo meaning my rock www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaEizTQapgMOsiepna, dholuo meaning my friend. This is my testimony when most of my friends left me at the time when I needed them most, but the Lord Jesus never left me www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0dHCEKr5VYAmani meaning peace. This a peace song urging all Kenyans to maintain peace during campaign period and beyond the general election www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuORMed8BQk
ONLINE EMPOWERMENT LEADS TO OFFLINE WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
I went through Gender Mainstreaming online course through InWEent Capacity Building International Germany now GIZ www.GIZ.de, the course was so helpful and refreshing. Chat sessions were conducted where people shared experiences ideas with other students across Africa and Germany. My motivation for the study was to understand among other things why there was still a big disparity in representation of women both in national and local level governance structures and processes. After the online training I trained staff and community paralegals. See the picture of trained women paralegals and staff Canon Mary Ochieng training women group leaders in Siaya. My greatest concern was and still is the absence of women in leadership positions at grassroots levels. Many development committees such as School committees, water committees, Constituency Development committees, are headed by men, who cunningly choose some illiterate grandmothers to be Treasurers; whereas they will just append their signatures or fingerprints to what they are told to do and given little allowance, just to fulfill the gender requirement. See the picture of a school treasurer, who could not even explain the expenditure. This was during our follow-up meetings on gender and participation. Thanks to GIZ for the online training I could do my assignment and still manage to attend to other duties and responsibilities.
During the offline training session’s young women were motivated to regularly attend community public meetings, popularly known as “barazas” and offer themselves for leadership positions; and in the process contribute to community meeting agenda where decisions concerning them would otherwise be made without their participation. Follow-up meeting held with the area Chief confirms that the situation is slowly changing: the community attendance has improved, but women are still passive. See my picture with Chief during follow-up meetings. I strive to share the knowledge I got from the online training with others who were not as privileged to access internet, not only in Kenya but even internationally. I have shared this knowledge with many groups even across boarders - recently a group invited me in Entebbe Uganda.
I believe digital empowerment is important because of the area coverage. One can reach so many people in different locations at the same time. I strongly believe digital empowerment is important and will transform the life of women through information sharing and exchange of ideas and resources. Internet enables buying and selling all in one roof.