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Monday, 17 July 2017
Published in PROJECTS
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Jorge Burón, a Political Science student at UAM (Autonomous University of Madrid), shares his experience during the fourth and last talk of a four-part cycle on Rights, Freedom and Democracy, from the point of view of politics he will undertake for Afrikable’s women beneficiaries, as part of his internship in the area of women empowerment in Lamu.

"In the last talk I don’t know if we have closed a cycle or started what could be a beautiful and hard road that must be walked always looking straight ahead and surpassing all obstacles that inevitably stand in the way.

It is difficult to analyse how this has happened and how it has evolved from the first day when we were strangers and we saw each other for the first time, until today that I know their lives and they greet me by my name, they hug me and kiss me. And even when I tell them that it’s my last day, that I’m going back to Madrid, they tell me: ‘Jorge hakuna Spain, Jorge hapa Lamu’. This time some tears were shed.

What has happened here in between? What have we achieved, if we have achieved anything? Will it be useful or will it be forgotten? Will they think about their lives and their children’s lives differently? Do they dream of a better world now or do they have nightmares when they feel the inequality even more? I don’t know the answer; I don’t think they are the right questions.

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No one came to teach anyone. But for a month we have talked and thought about our lives, how they are, how we would like them to be and what we could do about it. Without lessons of any kind or master classes, I think we all have learned something in what I have always liked to call talks, because that’s what they were. Beautiful talks between strangers that have become friends and that I think now look at the world a little bit better, at least more objectively, with more perspective. We know the rights and freedoms of Kenya better, but also the wishes of human beings, the social, safety and freedom needs. What democracy means, what our real concerns are. And that we live in worlds that are so different they are almost opposites and we are almost the same because we are very much alike when we start talking about these things.

I’m really sad that it’s over.

I’ve been very lucky to be able to participate. Asante sana! Sincerely. Badae! See you soon :)"

 

Author: Jorge Burón | Translator: Sonia Moscardó

Monday, 10 July 2017
Published in PROJECTS
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Jorge Burón, a Political Science student at UAM (Autonomous University of Madrid), shares his experience during the third talk of a four-part cycle on Rights, Freedom and Democracy, from the point of view of politics he will undertake for Afrikable’s women beneficiaries, as part of his internship in the area of women empowerment in Lamu.

"During the third talk, we talked about rights. About specific rights. About rights that appear in the Constitution of Kenya, and disappear in their society. Those they should know about, but what for if the reality is that they are not respected? The 2010 Constitution is one of the most advanced political texts in sub-Saharan Africa. But, what does it matter if the reality is that it fails to defend its citizens even though it has many fundamental rights drafted?.

But then, why were we talking about rights if it seems like, even if they are written on a paper, they don’t exist in their daily lives? They asked for it, they wanted to know them, and I prepared them and showed them to them. I think they already knew what they wanted them for, why they wanted to know them, even though I didn’t understand where things were headed yet. Once again they were the ones who would give the talk.

And not only them, in this third talk we had my colleague Ana, a student of the Master’s Degree in Gender Studies of Seville who came to Afrikable to do her master’s thesis with the women and who had already been here two years ago in the Volunteer Holidays program. Who better to tell them about their rights and their situation as women regarding those rights that are rarely respected and if you are a woman even less? So it was the two of us. Along with Lola, the founder of the project (together with Merche) who we were lucky to have and who had just arrived to the island. She provided essential support to bring about new dynamics to the talk and bring it to a successful conclusion. It was a success indeed, thanks to them and to Khadija, as always.

So we talked about rights. About their rights, those they have even though they are not fulfilled, those their Constitution shows off. About freedom of movement, Article 39.1, that no one can order you where to go or where you should be, no one can stop you from going or being where you want to be. About equality between men and women in marriage, Article 45.3, both sides have the same right and freedom to decide on their lives and their household. About universal access to emergency medical treatment, Article 43.2, if your child breaks a leg a doctor has to see them straight away, no excuses. About the right to life, Article 26.1. About equality before the law, Article 27.1. About all those issues that are central to their lives and they were organising in their heads. They were astonished, paying attention like never before, which is a lot to say, capturing and absorbing all the information well aware of its importance. In one of those heated but fun discussions they like to have, the real question, the purpose and the point of it all came to light.

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One of them said that if they didn’t claim those rights, if they didn’t fight for them it was because they knew they didn’t stand a chance. Only a few of them are heard and many others are not heard because no one will listen to them. And it was then when another said, as if it were an evidence well-known by all: ‘but let’s see, if these rights are not for us, we must know them to pass them on to our children so they can experience them.

It has been the longest, most exciting, productive and beautiful talk so far. The more help, the easier, of course, but it also seems like we are going somewhere, that we are starting to take a direction. An idea about democracy and freedom that can be useful and necessary even though everything is contaminated by corruption, even though sometimes we fall into pessimism and it seems like we are stuck in stagnation. It’s not true. The children who listen to the talks and don’t understand while they cry in their mothers’ arms, start to make a lot more sense, sitting there watching and listening to the talk, even if it’s only so that they start to hear the words of the rights that one day they will have to defend and enjoy."

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Author: Jorge Burón | Translator: Sonia Moscardó

Monday, 03 July 2017
Published in PROJECTS
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Jorge Burón, a Political Science student at UAM (Autonomous University of Madrid), shares his experience during the second talk of a four-part cycle on Rights, Freedom and Democracy, from the point of view of politics he will undertake for Afrikable’s women beneficiaries, as part of his internship in the area of women empowerment in Lamu.

"Yesterday we talked about gender equality and I don’t know if we understood each other. I don’t mean the language, which is also an obstacle because simultaneous translation does not always work perfectly. How can one mediate as an interpreter in a discussion with 20 people at the same time? It’s complicated, but even so we understand each other quite a bit. Besides, I think it’s better that way. Sometimes they look at me after saying something and they all laugh at the same time as if to say ‘Poor guy doesn’t understand anything we say’. No need to, right? What am I going to teach them about their lives? About their husbands? About men?.

It was during the times that we managed to have a fluid English-Swahili dialogue when we did not understand each other much: ‘What inequality? Of course we are different. So what? What is the problem? Everyone plays a role, fills its role, contributes with some things and receives others.’ What if it’s true? But sometimes, many times, it doesn’t seem to be true. If a woman gets a job, often the husband leaves his and dedicates himself to the contemplative life, why should he work if she does it? A man who does not find a woman, kidnaps one, rapes her for three days and lets her go. But, who’s going to want her now she has been defiled? So he asks for her hand and they marry her. If they get divorced, the husband disappears; forget about the financial aid, the woman and the children have to live as they can, and the State does not help much either so that the maintenance obligation is complied with.

Not all of them do this, not all of them are like that, but these stories are their testimonies. Some of them have experienced it, and many more outside Afrikable, and others will experience it. So life does not seem the same for everyone, and yet they don’t see it?

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Or maybe they don’t know what is it that they have to see. But unlike us, that think we know everything and actually we are just as blind as them or even more, they do listen, they do want to learn to look. They, these women, truly have an open mind, which does not mean knowing a lot of things as we think in our Western world, but wanting to learn lots of things. They really do have an open mind. Right before the end of the session, when it seemed like we weren’t going to find a point of connection, they saved the day again and said to me: ‘But let’s see, which are those rights we don’t have? What would the freedom we should have change? What’s with women’s rights? We don’t know them. Tell us about those rights, we want to know what they are, tell us about it and maybe we agree’. They are teaching me so much and I have so little to give them. But at least we have that, even though it’s hard, we manage to understand each other, because they have an open mind and they open mine.

So next week we will keep trying, this time we will talk about those rights they want to see but don’t know and those injustices they experience and that maybe one day can change for them, for their daughters, for their society. Disappear.

 

Author: Jorge Burón | Translator: Sonia Moscardó

Monday, 19 June 2017
Published in PROJECTS
Written by

Jorge Burón, a Political Science student at UAM (Autonomous University of Madrid), shares his experience during the first workshop of a four-part cycle on Rights, Freedom and Democracy from the point of view of politics he will undertake for Afrikable’s women beneficiaries, as part of his internship in the area of women empowerment in Lamu.

"I was feeling nervous when I came into the room half an hour before the time of the talk to prepare my introduction in Swahili, it was translated by Khadija. It was just five sentences but many of them do not speak English and it seemed to me a small gesture, although I continued in English with Khadija as an interpreter.

What shall I begin with? Should I tell them about Kenya’s political institutions first? Do we talk directly about the August 8th elections? Do I ask them what they think about the rights of their Constitution? After a presentation on what it means to have rights, to be free and to live in democracy, I did not know what to do. Until it began, and then they did it.

All I had to do was ask them about their concerns: everyone said education and health. One said safety, another equality for women. Khadija only said corruption. That is the problem here and she knows it; she knows a lot. What is the point of a Constitution or voting if everyone steals from us, if women continue to be battered and raped, if the police only work for those who pay them and for others can be a danger?.

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And then they definitely took over. They discussed, shouted, grumbled, laughed with resignation. I didn’t understand anything they said because they spoke in Swahili, but I understood them. They talked about politics and rights, many of them for the first time.

The first day we found out that democracy is not just voting. Democracy, as they said, means to be free. Democracy is knowing which are our rights and demanding them when we are not allowed to exercise them. It is to keep fighting for what we deserve instead of giving up. It is discussing our problems and solutions. The society that we have and the one we want.

At the end of the talk I asked them what they wanted to discuss at the session the following week: constitution, institutions, women’s rights... Everyone, with no exception, said women’s rights. It is obvious that they know what they want.

It was only the first talk and I learned more about politics, democracy and society; about fighting, hope, resignation and progress than in all years of my degree. I hope they continue to teach me and that when I leave, they feel like they can achieve what they want. What they are so sure about."

 

Author: Jorge Burón | Translator: Sonia Moscardó

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ABOUT AFRIKABLE

Afrikable is a Spanish charitable organisation, registered in the National Register of Associations under number 1/1/594088 and in the Spanish Agency of International Cooperation for Development (AECID)'s Register of Non-Governmental Organisations under number 2033.

 

In Kenya our association is called Afrika Able Organization and is registered with Kenya's NGO Coordination Board under number 10976.

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