Kenyan Plastic Bag Ban

In Kenya, plastic bags have long been a big part of everyday life.

Of course larger shops provided plastic shopping bags to their customers but many smaller shops and market sellers also used plastic bags to package their products, anything from grain to take away chips. In addition, a lack of access to adequate sanitation facilities means that the very poorest used plastic bags as a makeshift toilet alternative.

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Disposing of Plastic

The plethora of uses for plastic bags combined with a lack of universal waste collection meant that plastic bags were disposed of in the street. Much of the plastic ended up in large makeshift dump sites but not all of it.

On my first trip to Kenya I vividly remember being on the back of a boda boda, winding through the streets which cut between the tightly packed housing. All was going well until we turned a corner into a market street where one of the traders had decided to start a small fire to 'dispose' of some rubbish. As cool as anything, the driver dodged around the mini blaze and carried on but I coughed and spluttered on the back of the bike, having not quite mastered the art of holding my breath as we passed through the thick black smoke being emitted from the burning plastic.

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Burning Rubbish

The plastic which does not get burnt in the middle of a market is all too often eaten by livestock which are left to roam the streets and forage for food. A study by the UN Environment Programme found that between 10 and 15 percent of animals coming through an abattoir had plastic in their digestive track and in one case, 2.5kg of plastic was removed from a cow's stomach. When livestock eat plastic it can be very dangerous for their health (as discussed in this Kenyan news paper article) or it could possibly be entering meat destined for human consumption.

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Goats grazing in a dump site

In September 2017 the Kenyan government took the bold move to completely ban the use of any plastic bags.

Initially, there was some scepticism that the ban would be enforced as the government has proposed a number of similar bans over the years, all of which failed to work. However, this time the government was serious and proposed a number of very serious punitive measures with fines of up to $38,000 USD or a maximum of 4 years in prison. These measures have effectively stopped all production and import of plastic bag, so whilst there has been some use of existing stocks, bags are drying up.

For some of the families supported by Milele this has presented some challenges. Mama Steven for example has been selling her charcoal in small plastic bags, we initially worried that this would scupper her business but to her credit she found an innovative solution! Mama Steven collected a number of containers which matched her existing plastic bag sizes and she now uses them to measure out charcoal for her customers to take home in their own reusable pot... ingenious.

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Charcoal packing

Early evidence seems to be suggesting that the ban is working, people have adapted to the change and the bags which have been littering the environment for years are slowly being cleared away. I believe that that this world leading plastic bag ban is a good thing for Mtwapa and Kenya, humans are resourceful beings and if one option is removed we are very quick to find alternatives.

Perhaps the UK and the rest of the world can learn from Kenya.

Norwich Medics RFC Chairman's Dinner

On Saturday the 5th of May the Norwich Medics Rugby Football Club held their annual Chairman's Dinner where the club celebrate their achievements throughout the year and raise some money for a nominated charity. This year the club's chairman was Jay Thomson brother of Chloe, one of our trustees. We are thrilled to say that Jay chose to support Milele so Chloe, James, Amy and Rich went along to the ball to represent Milele and join in the fun. 

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Norwich Medics RFC Ball

Rich, Amy, Dani, Jay, Chloe and James

The evening was fantastic with great food, drink and entertainment. The club had lots of brilliant achievements to celebrate; all of their teams had successes throughout the season and the club were able to hold their first ever old girls vs students match earlier that day, a real landmark in the club's history. 

Jay and his committee put so much effort into the evening and managed to collect loads of really great items for the raffle and auction including signed sport shirts, personal training sessions, vouchers for restaurants, experience days (kindly donated by ExperienceDays.co.uk) and lots more. My personal highlight was a particularly special auction item which was simply described as 'A very nice fleece from my Dad's work' which (as you can imagine) really captured the imagination of the bidders and brought in a tidy sum!

All of the hard work really paid off and the club managed to raise an amazing...

£1700 !

Milele is a very small charity and we rely on sponsorship and donations to continue doing what we do. This money will make such a massive difference and help us to continue to help the children on our programme achieve their dreams. 

To give you an idea of what can be achieved with this amount of money I've given a few examples...

98

Months of Primary Education

A child could attend an outstanding primary school for more than 8 years.

 

226

Mosquito Nets

226 life saving mosquito nets could be provided to families at risk of malaria.

 
 

365

Days of University Education

Supporting a young person to receive a whole year of university level education.

This donation is absolutely amazing for Milele and really kick starts our 10th anniversary fundraising activities.

Thank you!

 

Defining Success

Hi All, As we approach Milele's 10th anniversary we have been thinking about what Milele has achieved so far and how we define success.

The most obvious measure of success is academic achievement. When the children sponsored by Milele get top grades in a school or university that they would not have been able to attend without sponsorship then we know that Milele is making a big difference in that child's life.  We are endlessly proud of the children sponsored by Milele and they consistently surpass our initial expectations but Milele is not an academic scholarship. We do not consider aptitude for education when children are sponsored so it seems unrealistic that every child will be top of their class in every subject.

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The Milele mission statement talks about 'facilitating choice' and perhaps this is more what we are really aiming for. Enabling children to have some level of control over their lives and the ability to make real choices about what they want to do. For so many children across the world their path in life can seem predetermined, reliving their parent's struggles and perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

Milele Mission Statement
Milele Mission Statement

For the children on the Milele programme, we hope that they are able to see beyond their immediate situation and imagine themselves having alternative lives. When they are able to do this we feel that they will be able to make an informed decision about their future and make active choices about what they want to do in life. It is perfectly possible that they make the decision to continue living in the family village and work in the family trade but the important point is that they had alternative options and they chose that life.

As Emmanuel Kai approaches the end of his university degree he is starting to think about what he wants to do in life. Having lived in Nairobi for the past few years he may have got a taste for big city life and choose to stay living in Nairobi, or perhaps he will want to go and explore other cities across the world or maybe he will want to move back towards his family and use the skills he has learnt at university on a project closer to home. The point is that whatever he chooses to do he has been able to make an active choice about his life.

I'm proud of all of our children and know that by being part of Milele they are all exposed to more options in life and that the choice of where they go will be in their hands!

Richard