Our member, Blue Cross Kisumu, in Kenya, is active on various levels. They strongly advocate on a multi-disciplinary level, run a rehabilitation and reintegration programme, educate children on alcohol and substance use while developing their skills, train peer leaders to sensitise their community, etc. They have celebrated their 25th anniversary this year, which we would like to congratulate them for. They have shown that hard work pays off and has helped many children to distance themselves from drugs. The work is not done yet, and Blue Cross Kisumu is motivated to continue to work on the issues.
Advocating for Alcohol and Drug Free Society
A duty bearers sensitization forum was held and brought different duty bearers together, such as the assistant county commissioner, Magistrate, Lawyer, Probation officer, Member of county assembly, the Kisumu County Drinks Control Directorate, NACADA, Representative from the police department, teacher representatives, Ministry of Education, Chiefs, Village elders, Youth leaders and other partner organisations.
The objective of the meeting was to check the Status and trends on issues of Alcohol and substance abuse among children and Youth in Kisumu county, to discuss Milestones of the petition submitted to the county Assembly and also Strengthening the implementation of the Kisumu County Alcoholic Drinks Control Act. The duty beares presented a rise in illicit brews and new trends in alcohol and substance abuse, including repackiging of illicit brews into bottles and making it readily available on parties emerging during COVID-19.
The duty bearers also sited some challenges they encountered in the fight against alcohol and other drugs. Such as: lack of cooperation amongst duty bearers, protection of the alcohol sale and brewers by those in in authority, lack of evidence to execute cases in the court, importation of local brews from outside Kisumu, and corruption. These factors have hindered the fiths against alcohol and other drugs but the duty bearers promised to take actions towards the realisation of an alcohol and drug free society. After the meeting, positive results were witnessed. Duty bearers were able to conduct raids and about 400 litres of illicit brew was caught, and those in possession of it were taken to court.
Together with other organizations working in the Alcohol and drug prevention and treatment field in Kisumu county, Blue Cross Kisumu petitioned the Kisumu county assembly on the implementation of the Kisumu county Alcoholic Drinks Control Act 2014. The petition focused on the operationalisation of Alcoholic drinks control fund to promote its control and prudent use of the fund which has been redirected to other departments, disparity between section 14(3) and part IV of the act, the improper placement of the county alcoholic drinks control directorate in business and trade docket as opposed to health docket and Inclusion of NACADA and CSOs into key county committees within the Act. Blue Cross Kisumu presented their issues before the committee on implementation and they promised to follow the issues to the latter.
During this quarter, Blue Cross Kisumu managed to successfully reintegrate 7 children back to their families in their rehabilitation and reintegration programme. The children are now living together with their families, just like other children. They have also been able to follow up with the boys who are already at home. The motorbikes, which were donated to Blue Cross Kisumu by Frank Future have been of great help for the social workers in their transportation when doing follow ups and conducting street outreach activities. One of the boys that has been reintegrated by Blue Cross Kisumu was able to join the University and took the course in Bachelor of Economic, while three others joined high school.
Alcohol and Other Substance Harm Prevention for Children and Youth
The Blue Cross Kisumu school on alcohol and substance use prevention project continues to impact 1230 children, divided over 24 schools and four base camps within the Kisumu country. The children have learned various life skills sessions and leadership trainings that have enabled them to develop and gain confidence, build relationships, develop leadership skills, critical thinking, good decision-making skills and self-esteem. These children are now able to take up responsibilities to organise and come up with different activities to campaign against alcohol and other substances within their schools and communities.
During this quarter, children and youth organised 3 child/youth led activities to address some of the issues they are going through in the schools and communities. They invited duty beares in a forum to deliberate on insecurities in their community, early pregnancies, alcohol and other drug abuse cases in schools, and child abuse. The club members also organised and carried out clean-up activities in their school to ensure a clean environment. 450 children from 10 schools, who have fully undergone the life skills sessions and activities, graduated and they are now continuing to create change in their schools and communities by carrying out awareness activities.
Youth United Against Alcohol Harm
Through this project, Blue Cross Kisumu has been able to train 500 on life skills and leaders. Most of them became peer leaders within their communities and are now creating awareness and educating the community members on the harm caused by Alcohol and other Substance of abuse. During this quarter, the peer leaders, together with other club members, were able to create awareness on alcohol harm in different communities within the target areas by involving both the community members and duty bearers. This was done through community dialogues, youth talk shows, and clean-up activities organised by Peer Leaders with the help of social workers.
During the community dialogue, the peer leaders conducted a survey on various issues that affected the youth in the community. A meeting with the leaders and other community members, including parents, followed to discuss ways to address the issue. Some of the issues they addressed to the leaders were: bars admitting and selling alcohol to children, bars employing minors, increased number of public smokers, especially those smoking marijuana, lack of good parental care leading to children seeking advice from bad groups, etc. The leaders attending the forum agreed to work with other leaders to address the matter and make the community safe for both children and youth. They also organised a clean-up exercise in the Slums of Obunga, where children and youth used that opportunity to send messages via placards advocating for alcohol free community safe for children and youth. Blue Cross Kisumu also used a public address system to engage the community on importance of standing to support and report any incidences where parents are accompanied by their children to alcohol joints, bars selling alcohol to children or parents/guardians sending their children to buy alcohol for them. They advocated for the need for the community members to always remain vigilant in order to help reduce alcohol harm in the area.
Finally, Blue Cross Kisumu organised a community awareness event where the youth used their talent in sports and arts to attract other youth and the public and sensitised them on the effects of Alcohol and ways to prevent themselves from using alcohol and other drugs. this event was graced by the donors from the IOGT-Movement East Africa regional office. Through these activities, Blue Cross Kisumu was able to reach out to more than 2000 people with the message and information about the effects of Alcohol and other drugs.
Blue Cross Kisumu - 25th Anniversary
For the last 25 years, Blue Cross Kisumu has been touching and changing lives of different people through our programs including children working and living in the streets. This week they were joined by our beneficiaries who are working and living in the streets of Kisumu in celebrating the 25th anniversary. You can also join them in this noble work of touching lives through registering to be a Blue Cross member. 25 years ago, they started with a few, but are now many, not only in number of staff but also in number of lives that have touched and changed as well as talents and creativity. They have grown and extended their project areas and are destined to greater heights as an organization. As they celebrate 25 years of existence, they would like to appreciate and congratulate Blue Cross Kisumu Board, Staff, Beneficiaries, Partners and Donors for all the efforts and accomplishments that have seen them reach this far. Thank you for being part of their company’s success over the years. They greatly appreciate and value your support and nurturing. Happy 25th Anniversary