Scope Recruits Celebrity Champions Against Child Labour.
With their roots in the Coast, George Biff and Masha Mapenzi are the ideal champions for a project to eliminate Child Labour practices in Kenya’s most beautiful, yet poorest, district. When they agreed to lend their strengths as powerful communicators to both young and old, they brought innovative energy to the project.
Biff is a Producer for Royal Media Services (RMS), owners of radio and television outlets throughout Kenya and Morning Presenter for KUDZACHA Radio Show, Bahari FM, 94.2 on the Coast, owned by RMS. Mapenzi is a well-known African Gospel and Afro-fusion singer, awarded the Coast Awards – Diaspora Artist of the Year and Runner up Female Artist of the Year, both in 2010. Both spokespersons were born on the Coast, Biff in Kaloleni and Mapenzi in Watamu. They recently shared with SCOPE representatives their hopes and motivations in joining this important effort.
George Biff saw at least half of his fellow students sent off to work while still in Primary School in Kaloleni. “People used children to make money for themselves. The girls from primary school were sent to make money so their fathers would buy a drink and or marry another wife,” he said. “While the general rights of the child are now protected by law, people need to be better educated about those. Too many underage children in Kaloleni and Kilifi are still sent to work in the quarries, in the domestic circles and into other forms of child labour.”
Biff’s voice is heard by hundreds of thousands of Coastal and other parts of the country’s residents, on his daily morning broadcast on Bahari FM. Speaking in Kiswahili, as well as in the local Mijikenda languages, he is able to reach out with messages that sensitize the community, give hope to the children, and encouragement to their families. He has interviewed SCOPE representatives about Child Labour issues and the program to eliminate Child Labour on the Coast.
Masha Mapenzi sees her music as an avenue to be ambassador for the Coast. “I try to incorporate the language and the culture, to break down the stereotype that Coast people are lazy,” she said. She remembers her grandfather’s shamba in Kilifi where children came to work because their parents could not afford school fees. “My father would keep the money for them, so it would not be squandered by their parents, and later, buy their books and school uniforms, and pay their fees directly.”
Mapenzi appeared at the World Day Against Child Labour event in Tezo to speak to the thousands of children, their families, teachers and local leaders against Child Labour practices. She plans to partner with children to write songs to champion the effort to eradicate Child Labour throughout Kenya.
SCOPE works with various government institutions, local agencies and non-governmental organizations to drive forth its agenda of social change in the communities. Our partners in our projects include Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Local Governments, World Food Programme, USAID, International labour organization, US Peace Corps, Population Council, APHIA II, FHI, PSI/K, VSO Jitolee just but to mention a few.