My Meeting With Senator Jordon Steele-John Of West Australia

I met Senator Jordon Steele-John who is a Senator of West Australia
and is a member of the Australian Greens parliamentary team.

He is A passionate youth and disability advocate, he has always
wanted to make a positive difference.His first political memory was
of the Tampa Crisis in 2001.
Six at the time, I might have been too young to understand the
complexities of that sorry saga, but I did understand that desperate
people were asking
for our help and we were saying no. It was my first encounter with the
power of politics and it had a profound impact on me. Over the next
ten years I
considered all the dream jobs usual to kids that age (palaeontology
was the frontrunner for quite a while!) but I could never shake that
desire to make
a difference and, after living through the Howard era, the Iraq War
and the Pacific Solution, the impact political decisions have on
people’s lives was
clearer to me than ever. So I decided to get informed and get involved.

Coming from a family of strong Labor supporters he had always
believed that, as a young person, a person who journeys with a
disability and a person who
cares deeply about social and environmental justice, Labor was the
party for me. So it was with sadness and disappointment that I watched
as, from genuine
action on climate change to ensuring that big miners pay their fair
share of tax, they failed to stand up for what matters. The final
straw came with the
Gillard Government announcement of Malaysian Solution. I knew then
that both parties had signed up to the type of cynical and
dehumanising politics which
always ultimately leads to cruelty, and I knew that I could not be
part of it. Searching for a voice which spoke to me with authenticity
and about the
issues I cared about with courage, I found The Greens and never looked back.

Over the course of my life I’ve learned that to be a young person with
a disability in contemporary Australia is to occupy the intersection
of some of
our society’s most ingrained myths and most damaging preconceived
ideas. Far too often it seems as though these are the prisms through
which our lives
are viewed and our rights are framed. It can feel almost impossible to
make your voice heard when the debate so easily casts aside everything
from affordable
education, housing and transport to the very state of the environment
we will inherit. At every opportunity I’ve worked hard to bust these
myths, challenge
these preconceived ideas and be a strong voice for the issues that
matter, working for the past several years as a youth and disability
advocate at the
local, state, federal and NGO level with a focus on rights and
awareness training.
From genuine action on climate change to affordable housing, quality
education, a properly funded NDIS and an effective transition to the
new economy,
The Greens embody the desire to make a positive difference that I’ve
felt for as long as I can remember. We have the courage to
authentically engage with
young people and our issues, laying out a policy vision which truly
meets the challenges and opportunities that face our generation.

Jordon Steele-John inspired me and he is an Icon of our time.
He also listened to my experience coming from a developing nation
where access to services is a dream to many persons with
disabilities.
We also shared how Australia can be of help to uplift advocacy efforts
on the low income countries by improving policy directions.

Appeal for Employment for PWDs at all County Levels

Leaders of devolved units and county assemblies should embrace disability inclusion by becoming role models in labour practices by ensuring that persons with different disabilities get share of the county cake distribution at all key positions in both the county assembly and executive levels.

I do heare by affirm that, as major employers and service providers, county governments have a constitutional mandate of article 54, UNCRPD article 27 moral authority and also significant impact on the lives of persons with disabilities.

This is by using fair employment practices and ensuring non-discriminatory service provision to locals and ensuring access to services. County governance is going to be the major driver of Kenya’s political and economic development, considering that crucial sectors of the economy and social/public services are under their jurisdiction.

I affirm the public service commission observations made in its study report of 2014 that persons with disabilities were left out by the national and county governments. With this not withstanding, all this levels of government never met the minimum constitutional threshold of 5 % opportunities but a mere below 1 % was what has been achieved.

since the introduction of devolution in 2013 greater participation, accountability and transparency in local governance and economic

development has been observed though allot needs to be done especially in provision of opportunities to persons with disabilities.

Devolution has provided a platform and an empowering voice to the historically marginalised population in the country.

The Kenyan Constitution envisions, among others, inclusiveness and protection of the marginalised as part of our national values and principles of governance.

International labor organization indicate in its different publications that political participation, especially by persons with disabilities, may lead to qualitative and substantive changes in governance, change of attitudes contributing to creation
of an environment that is more sensitive and responsive to people’s needs. For instance workers with disabilities are prone to work extra hard and ensure they meet targets.

Recently, the United disabled persons of Kenya the umbrella advocacy body for persons with disabilities, said the country has a long way to go to achieve disability mainstreaming in political representation following
the outcome of the August 8 2017 elections. Only 7 persons with disabilities were elected. two have been elected MP, two MCAs and one woman representative.
Earlier in the year, the National Gender and Equality Commission released a report on the status of equality and inclusion. It stated that persons with
disability have been discriminated against in the electoral processes, with their political representation being minimal or totally absent because of cultural
and structural barriers. The report noted that in 2013, across all legislative bodies, only a single woman with disability was elected to the national assembly. A man with disability
was elected to the Senate, five to the National Assembly, and 10 to the county assemblies.

Nominations remedied the situation: The senate ended up with three out of 67 members (4.5 per cent); National Assembly had nine out of 349 members (2.6
per cent), while county assemblies had 71 out 2,222 members (3.2 per cent).

Its still not yet Uhuru for persons with disabilities since the gains made in 2013 especially at the nomination at the county levels seems to be drained by the powers that be.

In the nomination 2017 it was a madden issue where 17 counties din’t nominate any person with a disability. The remaining 30 counties either also never followed the right procedure or they even some counties had fake persons with disabilities.
We should continuously question why society keeps acting as a barrier to the effective participation of persons with disability in all spheres of life. All of us have to consciously and directly challenge the stereotypes we hold towards persons with disability.

The government and its organs need to put its foot forward towards realizing disability mainstreaming and ensuring the meeting of the sustainable development goals by not living persons with disabilities behind.

Ignorance is the enemy within: On the power of our privilege, and the privilege of our power~ Darren Walker

I was a sophomore in college when I first encountered the writing of James Baldwin. His courageous spirit, his clarion voice, and his moral imagination
expanded my consciousness of what it meant to be black in America. It helped me make sense of my own experience growing up in the rural South during the
1960s.

This past year, as I have traveled across the country and around the world, Baldwin’s clear-eyed understanding of our human frailties—as well as our potential
for transformation—has traveled with me. It has given me
#reasonsforhope.

Certainly, the events of this year have tested any commitment to hope, and to the belief that equality can triumph over indifference and injustice. We
are witnessing alarming levels of racism and bigotry in the West. We feel anguished and powerless over the plight of refugees from war-torn regions in
the Middle East and Africa. The world over, continued violence against women and girls, ethnic minorities, LGBTQ communities, and other vulnerable people
reminds us that inequality can exact deadly consequences.

In the United States, we find ourselves grieving far too often. We despair over the innocent African Americans killed by police and over the killings of
innocent officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. As we try to measure the incalculable costs of this violence—and the trauma it expands and extends—we are
called to work with greater urgency to connect the reality we see with the solutions we seek.

As we continue to confront, and be confronted by, entrenched inequality of all kinds—as we search for ways to understand and address it—I have returned
repeatedly to one of Baldwin’s insights in particular: “Ignorance, allied with power,” he wrote in 1972, “is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”

These words resonate powerfully today. That is in large part because they compel us to confront our responsibility. They demand that we look closely at
our own ignorance and our own power. And as I discovered for myself, these two acts are not easy for any of us.

Confronting power, privilege, and ignorance
Author James Baldwin speaking about American racism to a predominantly black audience at UCSD in 1979.
Author James Baldwin speaking about American racism to a predominantly black audience at UCSD in 1979.

When Baldwin crafted his critique, power was held almost exclusively by wealthy white men and their institutions, including some of the very institutions
whose exercise of power we still scrutinize.

Since his writing, however, our definition of the power that allies with ignorance has expanded to include privilege: the unearned advantages or preferential
treatment from which we all benefit in different ways—whether due to our place of origin, our citizenship status, our parents, our education, our ability,
our gender identity, our place in a hierarchy.

The paradox of privilege is that it shields us from fully experiencing or acknowledging inequality, even while giving us more power to do something about
it. So, privilege allied with ignorance has become an equally pernicious, and perhaps more pervasive, enemy to justice. And just as each of us holds some
form of power or privilege we can challenge in ourselves, we each hold some form of ignorance, too.

Typically, in conversations about race, the word ignorance is associated with outright bigotry—and no doubt the two can be related. Yet in my experience,
ignorance remains such a ferocious enemy because of its silent, constant, unacknowledged presence.

I am a black, gay man, so some might assume that I’m especially sensitive to these issues and dynamics. But during the past year I have had to confront
my own ignorance and power, and come to terms with the ways I was inadvertently fueling injustice.

Last June, my colleagues and I
announced
that FordForward would focus on disrupting inequality. During the weeks that followed, I received more than 1,500 emails in response, mostly congratulatory.
And then something happened: I was confronted with feedback that highlighted my own obliviousness.

My friend Micki Edelsohn, founder of a remarkable organization called Homes for Life in Wilmington, Delaware, was the first to note that FordForward made
no mention of a huge community: the more than one billion people around the world who live with one form of disability or another, some 80 percent of them
in developing countries. “I applaud you for taking on inequality,” she said. “But when you talk about inequality, how can you not acknowledge people with
disabilities?”

Many others reiterated her unsettling message, from former governor Tom Ridge and Carol Glazer, chairman and president, respectively, of the National Organization
on Disability, to Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, the president of RespectAbility. As a matter of fact, it was Jennifer—now among our most constructive, valued
partners—who, in a rather scorching email, called me a hypocrite. I deserved it.

Indeed, those who courageously—and correctly—raised this complicated set of issues pointed out that the Ford Foundation does not have a person with visible
disabilities on our leadership team; takes no affirmative effort to hire people with disabilities; does not consider them in our strategy; and does not
even provide those with physical disabilities with adequate access to our website, events, social media, or building. Our 50-year-old headquarters is currently
not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)—landmark legislation that celebrated its 26th anniversary this summer. It should go without
saying: All of this is at odds with our mission.

Disability, inequality, and missed opportunities
Several thousand Georgia residents with intellectual and physical disabilities and disability rights advocates gather outside the Georgia statehouse for
2016 Disability Day, celebrating 25 years of the federal Americans With Disabilities Act.
Several thousand Georgia residents with intellectual and physical disabilities and disability rights advocates gather outside the Georgia statehouse for
2016 Disability Day, celebrating 25 years of the federal Americans With Disabilities Act.

The fact is, people with disabilities—whether visible or invisible—face harsh inequalities. People with physical, sensory, intellectual, or mental health
disabilities do not benefit from the same opportunities as those without. This inequality is pervasive, and it regularly intersects with other forms of
inequality we already address in our work.

For instance, RespectAbility found that
more than 750,000 people in our jails and prisons have a disability.
How many times have I thought, talked, or written about the imperative of criminal justice reform in the past year, I wonder, without thinking about this
aspect of the crisis at all?

And so, for me and for the foundation, my first question was: How had this happened—how could we possibly miss this? The answer, simply put, is power,
privilege, and ignorance—each of which multiplies the prejudicial effects of the other.

I am personally privileged in countless ways—not least of which is that I am able bodied, without immediate family members who have a disability. In my
own life, I have not been forced to consider whether or not there were ramps before entering a building, or whether a website could be used by people who
were hearing or visually impaired.

In the same way that I have asked my white friends to step outside their own privileged experience to consider the inequalities endured by people of color,
I was being held accountable to do the same thing for a group of people I had not fully considered. Moreover, by recognizing my individual privilege and
ignorance, I began to more clearly perceive the Ford Foundation’s institutional privilege and ignorance as well.

Some of my colleagues have raised the issue of disability rights in informal, individual conversations. Others have personal experience with disability,
or have cared for friends and family who do. Yet over the 18months that we meticulously crafted FordForward—an extensive, exhaustive process—we did not
meaningfully consider people with disabilities in our broader conversations about inequality.

Thinking back, I had believed that our institution—all our people, all our processes—would serve as a check and balance against individual biases. I assumed,
without really stopping to acknowledge my assumption, that issues I might overlook, or be ignorant of, would be raised by someone else—and that the space
was there to raise them. It is clear to me now that this was a manifestation of the very inequality we were seeking to dismantle, and I am deeply embarrassed
by it.

Yet the experience has kindled a learning moment for me—and for all of us at Ford—precisely because it affirms something important about how most institutions
work, or fail to, and how we can make them work better for more people.

This is not to say this system of checks and balances does not already exist. The diversity of perspectives within our organization and our board is perhaps
one of our greatest strengths. Still, as some have pointed out, this diversity does have gaps. As an organization composed of individuals with different
inherent biases, we are not immune to ignorance. While checking each other’s ignorance in one area, we may simultaneously—and unconsciously—reinforce and
even ratify it in another. In this way, an absent voice or constituency may not merely be unconsidered; it may as well not exist.

This kind of institutional ignorance is wide ranging. We see it when companies and organizations offer unpaid internships, and in the lack of diversity
on the
boards of cultural institutions.
We see it in the false choices between pro-victim and pro-law enforcement policy imperatives, and in responses to institutionalized racism more broadly.
I think it’s fair to say that this same narrow-mindedness
undercuts all of us in philanthropy
—and given our charge, it is unconscionable. Despite our best intentions, when we fail to address ignorance within our organizations, we are complicit
in allowing inequality to persist.

The good news is: We can change. And we are changing. Among all the many challenges facing our world and our work, the solution to this one is entirely
within our control. In order to make our organizations more effective, we must consciously, deliberately lead them to become less ignorant.

From ignorance to enlightenment

So how do we do this? How do we move from unwitting ignorance to enlightened action?

For my colleagues and me, the transformation starts with acknowledging our own fallibility and deficiencies. We are becoming more comfortable with uncomfortable
feedback. Rather than adopting a defensive posture by default, we are opening ourselves to dialogue and learning. As we know, change takes time, and we
may not succeed fully right away. But we are committed to doing better, and we hope that continual feedback will keep us honest.

In this particular case, we have sought out the counsel of numerous people with disabilities, as well as disability rights advocates—including visionary
leaders like Judy Heumann and former senator Tom Harkin, and our colleagues at the Open Society Foundations and Wellspring Advisors, who were pioneering
funders in this area more than a decade ago. These conversations have offered us tremendous insight into how we can—and will—include people with all types
of disabilities in our work.

To be clear, we will not initiate a new program on disabilities. Rather, we will integrate an inclusive perspective across all of our grantmaking. As I’ve
come to learn, the mantra of the disability community is “Nothing about us, without us”—words that ring true across our work. After all, we make better
decisions when we hear and heed the important contributions of all humankind. And I am confident that by adding and applying this additional lens across
our efforts—by asking the extra question, Are we mindful of the needs of people with disabilities?—we will see new opportunities we otherwise might have
missed.

We also are taking immediate, practical action. For starters, we revisited our plans for the renovation of our headquarters to ensure that we go beyond
the requirements of the ADA, so people with and without disabilities have the same quality of experience in the Ford Foundation building. We are also addressing
our hiring practices. And soon we will ask all potential vendors and grantees to disclose their commitments to people with disabilities in the context
of their efforts on diversity and inclusion.

This is an example of how the Ford Foundation is striving to redress an issue we didn’t get right. But more than that, it is a call to reflect on our
personal and collective ignorance—and to work more conscientiously to combat that ignorance, no matter what shape it takes.

For some, this might mean reconsidering the makeup of a board or leadership team—or reexamining recruiting and hiring practices that may unintentionally
exclude certain people. For others, it might mean reassessing a program based on the context that surrounds it, or reflecting on the language we use when
we talk about the people we work with. Or it might mean asking for uncomfortable comments and criticism, and seizing them as an opportunity for growth.

Demanding more of ourselves, delivering more for others

We simply cannot and will not defeat the enemies of justice—or dispel ignorance—without taking time to reflect on our own lives, and without asking difficult
questions: Who am I forgetting? Which of my assumptions are flawed? Which of my beliefs are misbegotten?

To do this, we need to put aside our pride. We need to open our eyes, ears, minds, and hearts in order to embrace a complete and intersectional view of
inequality. Only when we permit ourselves to be equal parts vigilant and vulnerable, can we model the kind of honest self-reflection we hope to see across
our society.

If “ignorance allied with power” is, in fact, the greatest enemy of justice—and the greatest fuel for inequality—then empathy and humility must be among
justice’s greatest allies. This will be the work of our year ahead and beyond. It is the work of engaging directly with the root causes and circumstances
of injustice that make philanthropy both possible and necessary.

For my part, I am hopeful. By demanding and expecting more of ourselves and our institutions, we can deliver more for others. By listening more to each
other, we can continue to forge a more just way forward, together.
Foundation.

writer is
#Darren Walker,
President

How Dennis Itumbi Digital director statehouse wants you and me to celebrate his birthday

Aside

Pastor’s Moment
:
#Dennis Itumbi
Today I write to invite you to share my birthday with me on 19th March, at The Moi Avenue Primary School in Nairobi.

My invite, which I post today will be a long essay. Kindly read along.

Sometimes what we preach is best practiced.

The sermon on that day, is what Paul wrote to the Galatians 2:10 “….Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”

On that day, we will do something different.

We will cook Chapatti’s (Chapos) for street children.

I am asking you to come with a rolling pin, a packet of Unga if you can, but most importantly, energy and passion and let us cook together.

#ChapatiForum
led by
Roman Kariuki
and
Anna Anne
will be in the house coordinating the cooking and the mentoring. Ann has been working with street kids for the last few months and will bring on board
a lot of insights

If you have old clothes, blankets, shoes, please come with them and let us interact and add a little warmth and smile to someone we do not know.

Now I know all those questions, why food for one day? why street children is that not encouraging them to flood the city instead of clearing them?

I considered those questions at length before deciding to share my birthday and to mobilise my friends and all of you to be part of the initiative, offering
your friendship to that group of people is to offer my best resource to strangers, I therefore got have answers for those deep questions.

I value your time and friendship, I will never mobilise you to service for the sake of it – let me therefore explain.

Out of all possible groups like children homes, the aged and all, I consider Street Children and the homeless as the best challenge, without good challenge
we rarely stretch ourselves to the limit.

I have never heard a comprehensive solution for this group of people. However, one of the first steps we can take is be friends to them as a people and
share the values of humanity with them.

My experience on this matter changed one day, when a young girl walked to me, not nagging me for some cash, instead she told me, ” brathee usinifukuze,
tomb tu ni kama naomxa peas nitakuambia halo mbelee….” (My brother do not chase me away, just keep walking as if am pestering you for cash)

Skipping the details, she explained that she needed to get away from the eyes of the mother who was hiding somewhere watching her and that all she wanted
was to go to school and get her family out of the streets.

I did not buy her story. but I handed her cash some for the mother and some for her and the younger bro.

Before walking away, I asked her if she knew any school in Nairobi. She mentioned xxxx Primary School. “Sisi hulala kwa kachorochoro hapo karibu..” (we
sleep in a pathway next to the school)

I told her we meet there the next day if she was serious. I did not give a time. To be sincere I did not even turn up the next day.

Many weeks later, the same girl approached me near I&M building and before i could employ a popular strategy blaming her for not turning up, she told me,
“usijali, naelewa umekuwa kazi, tuma mtu ama upige simu shule..”(Do not worry, I know you have been working, please send someone or call the school)

She had turned up for our school date, she sat at the stage the entire day and waited unsuccessfully for me, admiring different children as they carried
their school bags to school.

But the mistrust accumulated fairly over the years, filled my view with smoke, i could not see the sincerity in her eyes and the passion in her heart only
stopped by lack of resources and an upbringing that had taught her she could only make it in life by begging for favours.

At her age she had decided she was not going to live a life of begging by choice, she was going to try and rewrite her narrative and curve a new path for
her destiny.

“Mimi ndio najua hii maisha, mimi ndio nitamaliza mambo ya chokora nikisoma,” (I understand street life, I will deal with it and finish it if I go through
school)

Anyway, she was admitted to school and since we have free primary education the cost was minimal, 40 bob a day for Lunch in school. and other administrative
costs came to less than 15,000 for the whole year plus uniform costs.

But after school it meant she was going to sleep along family on a pathway. Thats not all the mother supplements family income by engaging in prostitution
with drunkards – i will not go to the details of that for now.

A teacher offers to get a house for the family near the school to avoid transport costs, we pay 6 months rent, but there is a problem they have a brother
who also needs to go to school, that too is sorted.

But a bigger problem is yet to be resolved, the mother now has a location for her prostitution and the children we come to learn from the young girl is
firmly exposed.

I will tell the rest of the story someday, including the other initiatives that have to be employed to have this children both who are doing well remain
in schools and the problems associated with it.

The bottom line is, we can change the story of street children by letting them access the tools and means that can empower them to participate i the solution
about them.

Most importantly we do not have to wait to strategic plans to come to life, someday they will, but we can change their lives, one street child at a time,
by just sharing love and listening to them

It is on that ground that I am providing a platform for you to spend a day with them, for you to cook Chapos for them (as we see if you really can cook
what you claim unakalia ama umekaliwa) and I must say there is no better place for me to mark my birthday than with those great kids and their families
too.

It is scripture that records that, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine,
you did for me.’

“… For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I
needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ …

If you can do any of those please do.

I dedicate my 2016 birthday to Street children and the homeless

God Bless You and Keep You
#be counted
#if I will be present why not you