15 March 2012 Welcome to my Africa Blog!

15 Mar

 

Welcome world to the birth of my Africa Blog!

Be sure to look for a new post once a week. I shall add a new post every Sunday evening around 8:00pm

My name is Kathleen J. Nickerson. Let me begin by saying that I am indeed a real person,an associate professor in the Education Department at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, USA and my professional vitae can be accessed on the university’s home page under “University Faculty.” I have an earned Doctorate in Education which makes me Dr. Kat. My purpose for creating this blog is twofold: 1.) to share my many personal adventures with you all and 2,) to educate you about what I have come to understand are the most important issues in East Africa at this time.  I also promise to use my original photographs and film clips in my posts taken during my travels especially the six safaris I had the pleasure to experience in southern Kenya and northern Uganda. 

After serving for so many summers in East Africa I have made many friends from professional colleagues to taxi cab drivers who contact me on a regular basis throughout the other nine months of the year. They candidly supply me with specific details about what they believe are the most critical problems and inequalities occurring within their own countries. They wonder if the rest of the world has any idea or cares about the personal tragedies they endure each day. News about specific countries in East Africa is scarce especially in the United States. Information  about Africa is not included in our nightly news broadcasts. It is my intent to provide my reader with the most current and honest information about the critical problems currently faced by the people of East Africa. Like any good reporter I will never identify my sources. Revealing names can get my friends shot or jailed and from what I have witnessed individuals who have been exposed as informants always end up dead. But I do swear to search out and confirm each and every fact I include in my blog entries and make sure that each has been correctly explained and is based on the most accurate information. I will never base the topics I choose to post on the testimony on one source alone and will only select issues that have been reported by several reputable individuals.

I shall also provide links for you, the reader to access in order to investigate topics that are of further interest to you. East African governments in general have become very sensitive to negative publicity and are quick to retaliate. Elite police squads like the KweKwe Squad did exist for several years, and according to some citizens, have not been disbanded as reported. They are very real para-military groups who have considerable expertise in the use of deadly force and who have been given the power to censor anyone at anytime without warning.

 http://wlcentral.org/node/1817  2011-05-28 Kenyan cables provide critical material for ‘evidence  war’ on extrajudicial killings

The Kenyan government’s official position is that the KweKwe squad was discontinued on January 29, 2008 by Internal Security Minister George Saitoti but many Kenyans disagree and fear that the members of this notorious squad who currently serve as ordinary police officers throughout Kenya have been brought together from time to time and called upon to carry out “special orders” assigned by the president, the prime minister, and other powerful members of parliament.

http://nipate.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=5407&p=38444     EX- KweKwe Squad Police Commander John Kariuki Dies Suddenly with Police Secrets.

I love the people of East Africa and since the year 2006 have had the opportunity to travel to Kenya and now Uganda in order to continue my research on “the educational needs of children in trauma”. My experiences began at an orphanage for Children with AIDS called Nyumbani created by a Jesuit Priest/Psychiatrist from Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Father Dag as he was more lovingly called showed up at my university’s Fall Convocation and invited me on the spot to come to Kenya and work with him the following summer. The first summer I stayed for two months, supervised two SRU students and returned the following year. During my first summer in Kenya I also worked at the Nyumbani AIDS clinic in Kibera, the largest slum in East Africa.

A couple summers later I brought five SRU education students with me for the month of August while I spent from May to the beginning of September working with individual orphans and developing an instructional curriculum for the students at Nyumbani who were on one of their tri-semester breaks. The following year I became part of a team of professors from SRU who had been invited to The Catholic University of East Africa, CUEA (for short) where we taught classes in the counseling program to graduate students pursuing a master’s degree in the field of psychology. Psychology is a undeveloped field in East Africa and although vitally needed there are few trained African counselors working in community organizations around Kenya. My graduate students were some of the bravest and most resourceful students I have ever met. Most of them worked for or were members of religious organizations. Then I stayed for the rest of the summer at the Nyumbani Village for orphans in Kitui where I helped to establish a primary school. This district is located in a remote area of Kenya in the western part of the country towards the Somali border. While in the village I lived in a tiny four-room guest house without electricity, traditional toilets, or running water.

I continued to work in Kenya until the summer of 2011 when I was invited to come to the country of Uganda for the month of June. I served as a visiting professor at Kyambogo University. Kyambogo is a large government-sponsored university located in the capital city of Kampala. I spent the summer conducting workshops on Trauma and Resilience Training for the faculty in the Education and Psychology departments and helping the junior faculty there develop their theses and dissertation research topics. While in Uganda I had the opportunity to travel through Gulu and learned a great deal about the war in Northern Uganda, child soldiers, the guerilla Kony, and the Lord’s Liberation Army from the people living and working around me -all of whom I will blog about at a later date.

I’ve thought about creating my own African blog for a very long time now. Thanks to some dear friends, mySRU students, and especially my sons, Micah and Joshua Nickerson who urged me to share my concerns and adventures in East Africa with the rest of the world-I’ve finally done it!. This blog has been designed especially for young people who care about others and dream of making a difference. Take this knowledge, make it yours, then do something with it! 

Kat Nickerson    Kingston, RI, USA

 

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