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Former Kangaroo Inn student’s work in Kenya

adam and rebekah 2

Rebekah Lowe and Adam Sargent in 5 THE FM’s Studio One.

by S Lowe 5THE FM’s newsonline wattlerangenow

Former Kangaroo Inn student Adam Sargent was born and raised in Beachport and the surrounding region but distant horizons always beckoned. His family’s interest in overseas programs and assisting those who need a helping hand were definitely an influence Adam said. He is the Chairman and Founding Board Member of the NGO UMaY in Kenya which develops programs to assist and uplift men and youth in Africa and now is broadening its focus on uplifting Africa in areas of education, orphanages, mental health and vitality, medical and community health, food security and environment and is currently developing a radio station as part of the media program and building project that will begin early this year 2014.

Adam has worked in Dubai representing investors from Australia; he has worked in London and Kenya. Career roles include establishing the Hospitality Guild while working as Director of Development for People 1st, the UK Sector skills Council; he also sits on the Board of Directors for Quo Vadis Trust, a mental health and housing charity.

Adam moved to Kenya in 2009 to volunteer with the NGO Kenya Network of Women with AIDS (KENWA) whilst doing research into the sustainability of Non Governmental Organisations.

He oversaw the establishment of UMaY, its official launch in 2010 and is focusing on identifying and understanding successful programs that can be implemented by UMaY in Kenya.

Adam is a regular guest on 5THE FM and dropped in again while home for Christmas with parents Gordon and Yvonne Sargent of Beachport, who visited Adam in Kenya 2 years ago.

Adam’s sister is a paediatric nurse in Bali, training local nurses in the hospital she works in, and has just applied to work with ‘Doctor’s With-Out Borders.’  She visited 5 THE FM shortly before leaving for London to further her studies 2 years ago and said she looked forward to working with Adam in Africa in the future.

Adam spoke with Rebekah on 5THE FM on the morning program on Thursday 23rd January 2014 and explained what led him to Africa. He began a research program into the effectiveness of NGO’s is Africa and the struggles and health issues of the people, and with 2 other men, they established UMaY, spending 2 ½ years creating programs for men and youth in the region. UMaY began in Korogocho, one of the worse slum areas in Africa, where over 200,000 people live in shocking conditions.  Adam said the only way to describe the living conditions there is it smells like a sewer farm, a rubbish dump, and the shanty homes are built from scrap materials on the uneven surface of the rubbish dumps.

The homes have no power and no sewerage but he said the people’s willingness to work at whatever they can do is obvious; they will wash dishes, deliver parcels, transport people on the back of their scooters, they will do anything to earn something!

His  work in Dubai had given him the opportunity to save and with this money he supported himself and financially supported the work of UMaY.  However this situation was not sustainable and he returned to London where he was able again to have income but also investigate further economic programs for Africa.

NGO’s cannot apply for federal funding until they have been operating for 2 years and have a proven sustainability and effectiveness record so the initial 2 years were spent doing that. Operations were scaled back while Adam worked in London  until funding could be applied for but his 2 friends, who helped establish UMaY, maintained basic operations during this time.

During the two years he spent in Kenya with UMaY, they  implemented programs such as a youth based centre, HIV clinic, maternity programs, and female youth programs. They encouraged other NGO organisations to become involved with them and together become more effective.

“The people live in terrible conditions but their spirit is strong, he said.  Drought still affects the country through lack of water and this is an on-going challenge for the people.”

“Kenya has had a troubled history; in the 07/08 the government gained power in a hotly contested election violence, resulting in terrible violence and this caused confusion with the people of Kenya because they could not understand why their neighbour their friend became violent.  A new constitution was developed and new president and Kenya is now moving forward.”

As Kenya moves forward, UMaY want to work with the Government, not against it, to help the people be uplifted, support the people as the changes are implemented.

“Big companies are now investing in Kenya and this will help develop Africa, so we all need to work together for the best outcome,” he said.

“We don’t want to repeat what is already being done but find gaps in the needs being addressed and put our focus where it is most needed.. We found that the needs of men and youth were not being addressed as much as the women were, and this was creating further problems.”

“When women learned new ways to cook or protect themselves from HIV, the men were not learning at the same time and so this compounded the problem of violence.”

“The men needed to be educated at the same time.”

“The men did not know how to process the changes, so we worked with other NGO’s to help bring about that change.”

“The exciting news is that we have now been able to apply for considerable funding and expect to receive that  in the next few months. This will enable us to build a new Centre where 6 key program streams will operate from.”

UMaY’s six program streams are:-

          Youth Support and Development Program

          Life skills training, pre-employment and education program

          Food security and agricultural training program

          Orphans and vulnerable children care and support program

          Health and vitality program

          Greening Kenya environmental program

“We will be looking after men and the boy child and well as women and girls now.”

“The radio station in the new Centre will bring together all community radio stations across Africa to reach all youth. Even if they do not go on to have a career in radio, it builds confidence in them to apply for another job, stories they hear on radio will inspire them in their own life.”

“Radio can be a very positive influence in people’s lives.”

“Silas Miami is the director of youth and he is a recording artist and musician and  is looking at an arts program, culture and music program for the youth bringing together well-known artists mixed with, up-and-coming artists, providing HOPE for the future through radio and concerts.”

“Everyone needs a break; rich or poor.”

“Silas just finished recording his latest song last night and emailed it to me at 4-00 am this morning so that it could be launched on 5THE FM this morning.”

 The song ‘What we Lost’ by Silas Miami was broadcast first on 5THE FM on Thursday 23rd January.

Rebekah asked Adam where home is for him.

“Australia is home but Kenya has a special part in my heart. I always come home to Beachport for Christmas with my family.”

“I may settle  in Australia again, and travel to Dubai and Kenya for my work there. We’ll see”

For further information about Adam’s work in Kenya, go to  http://www.umayafrica.org

Editors note:

WRN asked Adam what he thought of the closure of Obstetric Services at the Millicent Hospital.

“Deplorable, ” he said.

“In our work in Kenya I have learned  that a woman has a better overall outcome at the time of giving birth if she is in a familiar place with people around her she trusts and that trust is built during the pregnancy, with her doctor and staff. We are trying to build that for the women of Africa and right here in Millicent the very thing that women from the area need and could have, is being denied them.”

I asked Adam what he thought of the reports that local Millicent women have been discharged from the Mt Gambier hospital only hours after giving birth,  sent home to Millicent in a private car, with a baby just hours old.

“Policies and procedures seriously need to be looked at,”  he said.

” I have no other words for this situation other than it is deplorable.”

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