We are excited to share that in partnership with One Billion Rising-Kenya, we won the Sanaa Theatre Awards for 2015 Best Theatre Production on Women’s Rights and Empowerment. Thank you for Voting! We took a while to announce the good news because we were busy tracking the trophy through snail mail! We are incredibly honored and humbled by the award. Our charity plays are part of our sustainability strategy developed to ensure that Flone Initiative continues to serve the community.
In light of this award, we thought we share a couple more sustainability strategies that you can expect from us in 2016:

  • We are developing a revenue model around our Usalama Wa Uma Program. PSV SACCOs and driving schools will be expected to pay for the training. More details coming soon.
  • This year, we will be hosting two charity plays: ‘For colored girls who commit suicide when the rainbow is enuf’ and ‘Avocado’. The Play ‘For colored girls who commit suicide when the rainbow is enuf’ consists of a series of poetic monologues accompanied by dance movements and music that tells the stories of seven women who have suffered oppression in a racist and sexist society. The play ‘Avocado’ explores the horror of human trafficking in the most harrowing terms. We are currently looking for a director. If you know one, refer them to us.
  • In addition, the Good Food for the Greater Good Gala Dinner will be a fundraising event for our new program Women in Transportation (WIT);
  • To encourage more individual sponsors, we have a new donation platform that is easy and secure to use, accommodates several payment methods and provides receipts. For our U.S.A supporters, your donation is now tax-deductible within the guidelines of U.S.A law.

So on behalf of everyone at Flone Initiative, we are more excited than ever to deliver on our promise of a safe and professional public transport industry.

As always, we thank you for your continued feedback and support and look forward to an exciting 2016!

Try out our new donation platform HERE.

Creating a safe anf professional public transport industry.

Creating a safe and professional public transport industry.

Usalama Wa Uma program, which is a partnership between Flone Initiative and Men Engage Kenya Network (MenKen), aims to create a safe and professional public transport industry in Kenya.
We are concerned with the safety and security of Uber drivers and Kenyan public that makes use of this service. We condemn the use of intimidation and violence in the public transport industry to resolve the fight for market share. Our concern has been fueled by the recent intimidation, physical attacks and trickery used against Uber drivers. The most popular incident involves an uber car that was stoned and the windshield broken at Valley Arcade on Sunday the 31st January. Uber is offering security to its drivers by having policemen patrol violence-prone areas such as Westlands. Unfortunately, this is not a sustainable way to deal with the issue at hand that calls for safe public spaces.
As per our understanding, local taxis are blaming Uber for the City Council’s recent move to remove local cabs from the Central Business District. In addition, the taxi wrangels are being viewed as the fight between the Rich man (Uber) versus the common wananchi (local cab drivers). The local cab drivers are disgruntled that unlike Easy Taxis who work with local taxi community, Uber has requirements that cut off the local taxi driver from joining Uber such as the taxi must be only 4-5 years old.
The above notwithstanding, we as stakeholders are concerned with the rising violent attacks which may spill over even to Uber clients and continue to work against having safe public spaces that we are currently working to create.

Our recommendation and Call for Action:
a) National Police Device to immediately arrest and prosecute those promoting violence attacks on Uber drivers and avert further attacks.
b) Nairobi City Council to initiate, as a matter of urgency, meetings with Uber and other Taxi operators to resolve the current wrangles.
c) NTSA to assure the public of safety in the taxi industry by ensuring a definite solution to the current issue in conjunction with the relevant institutions.

For more information contact us on:
info@floneinitiative.org
info@menken.or.ke

The original article first appeared on KenyaBuzz: http://www.kenyabuzz.com/lifestyle/local-program-takes-aim-at-kenyas-public-transport

One of the most challenging and urgent issues we face in terms of the travel needs and challenges of commuters is ensuring the safety of everyone using public transport.

For most commuters, daily annoyances are limited to loud phone conversations or music. But a sense of safety and security, especially for women and girls, has been crucial component that affects their day -to -day life. Gender-based violence against women and girls in public spaces poses a major obstacle to improving our public transport system. A series of brutal attacks, video recorded and posted on social media in 2014, left Kiambu-based development organization Flone Initiative uniquely positioned to tackle this global epidemic.

Flone Initiative’s Public Safety Certification Stakeholder’s Forum was held on Thursday, 21 January at 5:30 pm at Clarion Hotel (Opposite Jeevanjee Gardens) This one-day event will bring together Nairobi public transport stakeholders and community leaders. These people are committed to improving and expanding development related to public transport.

The transport sector makes up a large part of the Kenyan economy, with PSV SACCOs employing up to 160,000 people. In the past, few women have sought a career in the public transport industry despite having equal skills and education to their male counterparts. Flone Initiative’s Public Safety Certification program provides training on customer service, gender relations, professional development, and other topics of interest to the community. The program aims to improve employment prospects in the industry for both men and women, and the ability of these people to earn a livelihood.

Flone Initiative is bringing principal industry stakeholders into a network advocating for a safer, better and more productive transport sector. The participation of those attending the Stakeholder’s Forum is a real opportunity for community leaders to commit to a smart, sustainable public transit system for Kenya.

Event Invite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/public-safety-certificate-program-stakeholders-forum-tickets-20670743751

Flone Initiative​ ensuring that Justice is swift in the First of its kind Kayole  ​#MyDressMyChoice –Court Case.The #MyDressMyChoice next court hearing is scheduled to be held at Makadara Law Courts on 21st December, 2015 at 9am.

Nairobi, Kenya (On November 17, 2014) It’s been a year since the #MyDressMyChoice call for protest. The #MyDressMyChoice march was a protest against the public stripping, humiliation and sexual violation women in the public transport industry. Outrage was prompted by cell phone videos of violent physical attacks posted online–the first time such images were publicly shared in Kenya. On December 19, 2014, President Kenyatta signed into law the Security Laws (Amendment) Act, which includes an anti-stripping clause; a reaction to Kenyan women and girls being stripped and physically or sexually assaulted in public. The clause administers a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 10 years to anyone convicted of forcibly undressing someone.

In November 2014, two women were forcibly stripped and robbed by multiple men in Kayole. Charges have been filed against six individuals (Micheal Kamau, Zachary Gitonga, Kelvin Njuguna, David Kinuthia and Hosea Kassim) who allegedly took part in the attack and the case is ongoing at the Makadara Law Courts. However, the complainants filed an application to drop charges against the six men accused of stripping, violent robbery and assault, indicating they had forgiven the suspects. In addition, they conceded that the suspects’ parents had asked them for forgiveness on behalf of the accused and offered the victims monetary restitution.

On March 12, 2015, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) rejected the withdrawal of charges, citing lack of a compelling reason. On April 1, the Makadara principal magistrate, Caro Ocharo, ruled the charges could not be dropped because the case is of public interest, regardless of the fact that the victims have forgiven their assailants. The next court hearing will be at Makadara Law Courts on 21st December, 2015 at 9am.

We are reminding the public and the courts that the prosecution of stripping is a matter of public concern, regardless of whether complainants have been compensated or forgiven their assailants.

As party to the African Union Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, Kenya is required to prevent all forms of violence against women – particularly sexual and verbal violence – and to ensure that adequate resources are allocated towards this obligation. In particular, Articles 2, 3 and 4 speak to women’s right to non-discrimination, dignity as well as life, integrity and security of their person, and obliges Kenya to take appropriate and effective measures. We hope that justice will be swift in light of the importance of this issue and the violent nature of the act itself.

Women like men have the right to feel safe and to live freely

 

Justice delayed is Justice denied. Call for #Njeri‘sJustice on 30th November to 3rd December 2015 at Milimani Courts at 9am.
In Kenya, this year’s, V-Day’s International Women’s celebration was marked by the hosting of Vagina Monologues show at Alliance Francaise in memory of Njeri, a 19 year old girl whose justice is yet to be served. Njeri was raped, murdered and found dead stark naked on June 2013 in Kikuyu. According to the post-mortem, she was raped, stabbed 12 times including the neck, back, thighs and legs. The accused was released on bail.

Justice delayed is Justice denied: We sent the below letter to DPP to alert him about this court case. This court case has been adjourned several times for the past 2 years. With the recent reports of rape and assault incidences in corridors of power, it is our hope that the law will take the course and justice will prevail. The sense of confidence in the courts is essential to maintain the very fabric of the society and the delay of the justice system to serve justice destroys that confidence and may even drain a just judgment of its value. In the larger sense, the public may come to believe that the justice system cannot fulfill its primary function to protect its society.

Despite the adjournments, we have not forgotten Njeri and we are calling members of the public to attend the court hearing dates as a show of confidence that the wheel of justice will roll faster and justice will be served. The Court hearing dates were scheduled for 30th March 2015 and 8th April 2015 at Milimani Courts but rescheduled to 30th Nov to 3rd December, 2015.

Other courts case that we are following up on: Kayole stripping case hearing which was scheduled for April 1 was postponed to December 21st, 2015 at Makadara Court.

Colour of solidarity: purple or black. We will be handing out purple ribbons before the hearing.

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Letter to the DPP requesting for a special prosecutor and detention of the accused.

Letter to the DPP requesting for a special prosecutor and detention of the accused.


Disclaimer:Refrain from making comments about the merit of the case as it is pending in court.
***************SHARE WIDELY*********************************

Creating safe commuter spaces

 

We at Flone Initiative believe that everyone has a right to feel safe and confident without being harassed or objectified. Groping, lewd comments and assault on public transit are a daily reality for women and girls, and Kenya is no exception.

Harassment on public transport in particular poses dangers for women and girls. It shapes our understanding of personal space and hinders mobility and participation in public life. This quarter, we held a Public Safety Certification (PSC) training of public transit workers. The training included drivers and touts in Nakuru County. The training was engaging and effective, with positive feedback from our participants about Flone’s message.

And, we are pleased to share that our next PSC training is being prepared for January 2016 and will be held in Nairobi County!

Flone Initiative aims to create a transport environment free from harassment and our Ushahidi crowdmap focuses on encouraging victims and witnesses to report crimes. Since its launch, we have seen dramatic increases in both confidence to report crime and in the number of  perpetrators being summoned to justice. The map shows how much of a challenge we face making public transport safe for women and girls.

We have begun the first in a series of social media efforts to highlight our campaign of zero-tolerance for gender-based violence in public transit. We will publish our efforts on Facebook and Twitter under the hashtag HerTravels, which will include reintroducing our existing safety platform at Ushahidi.

The #HerTravels campaign includes:

– Creating public awareness through a social media campaign to highlight the importance of safe public transit for women and girls in Kenya

– Training public transit employees on how to interact respectfully with female passengers and respond to violent, harassing or inappropriate behaviors on their routes

– Increasing awareness and use of Flone’s crowdmap platform at Ushahidi. The Flone Initiative map allows us to see precisely where women and girls have been targeted. Self-reported incidents allow us to accurately track violence and use the data to affect change and influence policy.

We invite you to participate in the #HerTravels campaign by re-Tweeting our messages or Tweeting your own words of support. We also encourage you to share your experiences with us. We are the collective voices of victims and survivors, and the hopes of real women and girls behind the statistics and numbers.

Your continued support is greatly appreciated. Flone has achieved great successes thanks to your kindness and generosity. Together, we can prevent and end gender-based violence, and guide discussions towards real change for a better Kenya!

paul karuri

The late Mr. Paul Karuri: Matatu Mashujaa (Hero)

As we mark this year’s Mashujaa (Heroes) Day, we celebrate a Matatu Hero: Mr. Paul Karuri. Had it not been for Mr. Paul Karuri’s bravery, the number of deaths during the post-election violence in 2008 could have been higher.Although his name may not ring a bell to many, passengers in a Star Liner bus headed for Mombasa from Kisii in early 2008 remember him well.He saved their lives from bloodthirsty groups of youths armed with machetes, stones and slings. Mr Paul Karuri drove his passengers through 50 barriers on flat tyres and shattered windscreens to safety from Kericho to Kisii town.

The then 56-year-old Mr Karuri’s brush with death mirrored the nightmare that thousands of Kenyans encountered on most roads in parts of the country that were ravaged by the violence.

At the height of the mayhem, which broke out on December 27, 2007, thousands of people were marooned upcountry or in towns, either fearing attacks from armed youths who had literally taken over most routes, or due to lack of transport to major towns including Nakuru and Nairobi after most bus companies parked their vehicles.

The most affected routes were those through Rift Valley, Nyanza and Western provinces, where bands of youths had erected “roadblocks” using huge boulders.

Vehicles were stopped and passengers interrogated to determine their ethnic communities. Those from the “wrong” communities were robbed and hacked to death.

During an interview after his ordeal, Mr Karuri said it was not his courage but divine intervention that saw him drive through the roadblocks to save his life and those of his passengers on the fateful night.

His Star Liner bus, which was full, left Kisumu in the evening.

Trouble started in Kericho when residents there warned him that the security situation ahead was bad and that armed men had barricaded the road at Londiani along the Kericho-Nairobi highway.

Mr Karuri heeded the warning and opted to use an alternative road — driving back to Bomet on the Kericho-Kisii highway but, on reaching Litein trading centre on the Kisii-Kericho highway, he was again stopped and warned that Kaplong, a few kilometres ahead, was also a no-go zone, forcing him to divert once more.

Just a few kilometres from Litein, he came face-to-face with armed warriors who had blocked the road using huge rocks. They flagged him down, and he obliged — he had no choice anyway.

He was ordered to open the door and the passengers told to alight with their identity cards raised.

“I realised that many of us were facing certain death,” recounted the driver in an interview with the Nation after the hair-raising experience.

As the gang leader barked orders at Mr Karuri, his troops placing old tyres under the bus ready to torch it, he made a split-second decision — he engaged gears and took off at high speed, sending his attackers scampering for safety.

He drove all the way to Kisii with the passengers screaming while others prayed fervently.

The police in Kisii escorted the bus to a nearby chief’s camp where the passengers spent a few hours — under guard — before they were transferred to Bomet Police Station to spend the rest of the night.

Asante Sana. Thank You. Nĩwega Mũno. Erokamano Ahinya.

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Dear Friend of Flone,

Thanks to your support, this month we are celebrating our anniversary. It’s been four years we sat down and thought of Flone Initiative while in University. In May 2013, while commuting using public road transport, we watched video clips of a lady being stripped of her clothes and were infuriated. From this, we developed a program aimed at stopping the often-unseen violence in the Kenyan public transport network. From its beginning, Flone Initiative has worked to develop models that promote the basic building blocks for equality and sustainable community development. In order to address the root causes of gender based violence, Flone Initiative continues to play the role of catalyst in mobilizing and empowering communities to build respect for women and girls.
Kenya’s public transport system is not safe for women and girls. Many have suffered sexual abuse and harassment on matatus while waiting for buses and even while walking through bus terminals. Flone’s Public Safety Certification Program trains with Public Service Vehicle (PSV) operators on customer service, gender equality and professional development. We’re getting closer to launching our crowdfunding campaign, and we could use your help expanding our reach. We want to grow to 10,000 community members. Please help us spread the word by:
Helping us DRIVE Change!
  1. Tweet about us. We’ve made it easy as pie-just click here!
  2. Invite 3 friends to join our mailing list. The more people involved, the better our chances of success when we get to crowdfunding. We need more people passionate about women’s causes to sign up for the mailing list and vote for change at FloneInitiative.org
  3. Make introductions to strategic partners, interested people and investors. If you now people or organizations who can help us touch more lives such as transport groups or organizations that empower women. Let us know by sending an email to psc@floneinitiative.org
With your help, we want our Public Safety Certificate Program to reach the 160,000 public road transport operators in the Kenyan public transport.

We would like to take this opportunity to especially Thank our repeat donors: Safaricom, Niraj Varia, Anna Smith, Eliza Hogan, Florence Njau and Graham Benton.

Consider making a Donation today, you are in good company.

MAKE A DONATION-1

*This blog post recounts a Flone Initiative women led peace prayer in Muranga, Kenya on 6th July 2014.

The Kenyan media was dominated with stories of fighting in different areas of the country including; Lamu, Baringo, and Wajir. It is this news of violence in several parts of Kenya that evoked an awakening among a group of women. Initially, the idea of women-lead vigil was a brain child of a Kenyan woman living in the U.S. Subsequently, this Kenyan woman reached out to other Kenyan women and started a Face book group “Women of Kenya United for Peace.” After some discussion, the women agreed that they would start women-led peace vigils across the country. The peace vigils were to be facilitated by Flone initiative. The theory behind these vigils was that when violence and lawlessness emerge, women become the easy targets of all the males perpetrators regardless of tribe or religion. Therefore, women have a commonality—they are victims more so because of their gender than their tribe. Hence, this group of women who branded themselves “woman rights champions” understood the importance of all Kenyan women to unite and preach peace in all the corners of their great nation. They made it clear that their efforts were by no means to trivialize the suffering of men but as it is well documented, in times of violence, more often than not, women and children are the one who bear the brunt of the consequences.

Women rights champions were able to reach out to one Member of Parliament, a woman representative, who agreed in assisting the group in furthering their cause. However, the group made it clear that the peace vigils were meant to be non-political and non-religious bipartisan protests that would include all women. The first peace vigil was to be held in Nyeri County but after consultations with the Nyeri women representative who was assisting in the planning logistics, the venue was changed to Murang’a County. The main objective of the peace vigil was to bring together religious leaders and political leaders to advocate for peace in Kenya and peaceful coexistence regardless of tribe, gender or religious beliefs.

On 6th July, the Women rights champion team joined the Murang’a Catholic Diocese of Murang’a for the family Day Mass which was supposed to precede the peace vigil. The mass was a colorful event with over 600 attendees from various churches with the county staff members in attendance. As planned earlier, the religious leaders spoke to the congregation about the need for peace and peaceful coexistence. The political leaders were also given an opportunity to introduce themselves and encourage the participants to join them in the women led vigil procession in Murang’a Town at 2pm.

After the church function, the women led vigil commenced with a Pastor and Muslim Imam leading prayers for peace in the country and peaceful coexistence of Kenyans regardless of religion, tribe or political affiliation. The participants at the procession were given white handkerchiefs, candles, and matchboxes. The handkerchiefs symbolized the call for peace. The candles were to be lit in remembrance of the lives lost in the recent violent attacks in the country. The attendees had also been asked to wear black or white clothes to symbolize peace and mourning.

Unfortunately, as the procession went on, some of the political leaders who addressed the audience invoked some political nuances contrary to the objective of the vigil. The political leaders accused their opponents in the other political parties of having intentions of destabilizing the country. This went against the tenets of the peace movement which were to be non-partisan and all inclusive. Nevertheless, the women rights champions groups felt that they had made a statement that women cannot remain invisible and silent anymore. The procession ended at a local primary school where the women political leaders planted peace trees.

At the end of the vigils, the women rights champion group came up with the following recommendations for future peace vigils:

  • Future events should adopt the more cost-effective ideas like use of white handkerchiefs instead of printing T-shirts and home-made placards.
  • To encourage non-partisan and all-inclusive participation of citizens, caution should be exercised when involving political leaders.
  • The vigils should continue to involve diverse religious leaders.
  • Future vigils should adopt the tree planting event for environmental conservation purposes and to serve as a reminder about the need to uphold peace.

It is worth noting that because of this initiative and other efforts that were made by various people to preach peace in the country, the anticipated violence that many mwananchi feared that would take place was thwarted. Additionally, by involving grass-root women to take part in the vigil, we not only empowered them but we also made a statement that women can no longer continue to remain silent and invisible. Lastly, we made people aware of what was going on in Kenya and made a global appeal which made women all over the world through the International peace movement “Women in Black” to stand in solidarity with Kenyan women.

 

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Hon. Priscillah Nyokabi (Nyeri Women Representative) in the peace vigil holding a candle.

Flone takes pride in making every donation count with fiscally sound management and low administrative costs. Through in-kind donations, grant resources and community efforts, your contributions are applied directly to projects. We appreciate each gift received and thank you for all your help! If you are interested in seeing what we’ve been up to, please take a few minutes to look at our annual report.

Flone Annual Report 2014-2015 (4.68 MB)