In the middle of the learning exchange, from October 10th to 15th, Mombasa team was split up into three groups to make community visits in different parts of the coast. Isaak Arinaitwe and Iryna Aleksieieva headed to Malindi in the accompaniment of two paralegals from Haki Center – Gideon Amani and Khadija Shelali. During the first who days Michael, Mustafa and McKinley were with us as well.
The team evidenced work of the mobile registration unit in Garashi sub-location where used to be a camp for those who were displaced by the river flood. The local chief demonstrated his proactivity by notifying people in advance about the possibility to submit documents to the registrators on site. People continued to arrive during the day, even students came after school to apply for ID.
Gideon and Khadija interviewed people in the lines to pick out complicated cases that required their intervention and follow-up. For example, undocumented mother of 27 y.o. came to register birth of a child but instead had to apply for her ID first, another two people were sent for the vetting process.
On Friday the team explored Kilifi county, in particular Baolala health centre and Gandini primary school. Noteworthy that by show of hands in 7 and 8 classes, 1/3 of students did not have birth certificates that proved that the need for paralegals was there.
Also paralegals showed to the learning exchange participants how to navigate thorough SALESFORCE and create new cases in the database.
In general, we found Gideon and Khadija to be professional and highly committed to the communities. The major challenge observed is the necessity for people to travel to the town to reach birth registration office whereas for ID people can apply through the chief’s office directly. For paralegals we found it to be embarrassing to take notes on numerous client’s cases on site and then record them to SALESFORCE since there is no internet connection in distant localities where they go.
Community visits were the most existing part of the learning exchange so far!
Here more story from @shaila and Lalita visited Kwale.
The first day in Mombasa,Kenya, we visited Haki Centre office @AndrewOchola . We learned that the Haki Centre operates four community based projects: i)Peace Building and Conflict Management ii) Citizenship Project ii) Land Advocacy Project iii) Women and Youth Empowerment Project and Human Rights Defenders Project.
In the citizenship program, there are nine paralegals who work closely with communities throughout Southern Kenya.At Haki Centre, we met staff members including @Mwanatumu@hemfujo has worked with the Haki Centre for more than four years. Kadau worked as volunteer for three years and was recently promoted to a full time paralegal.
Mohammed and Kadau lead Shaila Tieken and myself to Kwale county. Kwale is located in the South Coast of Kenya and shares a border with Tanzania. In Kwale, we had first hand exposure to Kenya’s statelessness crisis and witnessed the way Haki’s paralegals empower communities to combat statelessness.
On the second day of our visit, first stop was a clinic in which approximately 60 mothers attended the birth certificate sensation. The program offers informational to women, providing them with knowledge about the importance of birth certificate and procedure of obtain birth certificate . From the session, two paralegals realized that someone from registrar office asked for birth certificate fee. From the issue that we had, both paralegal brought the issues to clarify the registrar. It turn out that the fee was not from registrar office. The fee was collected by outsiders who volunteering to pick up the birth certificate from Kwale County office. From the discussion with the registrar, we learned that a face to face talking between government staffs and paralegals with trust is the essential tool for over come the challenges.
In addition to the birth certificate session, Mohammed and Kadau provided consultation for statelessness cases. Shaila and I were able to sit in on two meetings. The first was for a teenage, girl in her early 16 who was married and without an ID card. When she went to deliver her baby, the hospital denied to provide a birth certificate to her child. The second case addressed a single mother with a child. Initially, the father refused to put his name on the child’s birth certificate but now he has changed his mind.We learned that conflicting documents, late birth registration, incomplete information are identified as common challenges in this region.
Our second stop was a school sensitization event. More than 100 students participated in the event. The importance of birth certificates, procedures to obtain birth certificates and citizenship as a basic human right were emphasized at the workshop. Paralegals discovered that more than 50 percent of students at the event lacked birth certificates. Teachers and paralegals agreed that both parties will work with students and parents to assist in obtaining birth certificate in the near future.
On the third day, we went to visit the Pemba community. Approximately 3,000 Pemba individuals were reported as stateless. The Haki Centre and its partners work to lobby the government to recognize Pemba as nationals. We learned that paralegals play a significant role in connecting the Pemba leaders to local government staffs, and empowering both Pemba communities to shape the Kenya National Law and the Pemba Women’s Group to understand their citizenship rights.
Following our community visit, we stopped at the Civil Registration office. We learned that Mohammed and Kadue had recently joined forces with Civil Registration office of community outreach last couple months ago. The fact that there are huge demands from communities, Haki Centre is a key partner of Civil Registration office.Last stop, we visited county office here we learned that after investing years in building trust with government officers, paralegals have developed various, strategic tactics to advocate for their clients. For example, the day of our visit, Mohammed asked his client to come along with our group. He asked officer to use his client as case studies. the results turn positives to client case processing, client was able to obtain at least 3 of his family cases on that day.
On our last day, we learned about excellent database system.
Overall, the Haki Centre seem to be successfully collaborating with the target communities. Staff members interacted sincerely with clients, displaying a genuine desire to listen and assist, engagement that should be noted as a model for all other practitioners. Their projects, particularly the citizenship project seems highly effective and could be beneficial to implement in other countries. We look forward to our next encounter with Mohammed and Kadau along with the rest of the staff at the Haki Centre.
I envy their work, malindi team is tremendous two paralegals working in such a vast area ain’t easy. The first time I visited there with Makkah we experienced a lot and we are hoping to meet the team again for more exposure.