13 October, 2012

WardheerNews (WDN) Interview with CEO Hubbie Hussein al-Haji of Womankind Kenya

WardheerNews (WDN) Interview with CEO Hubbie Hussein al-Haji of Womankind Kenya

"Disciplining yourself to do what you know is right and important, although difficult, is the highroad to pride, self-esteem, and personal satisfaction" - Margaret Thatcher
Editor’s Note: With the drastic rise of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Kenya, a few Kenya-Somali women in the northern region that is for the most part populated by Somalis have been making significant inroads in delivering social services to the many not getting enough help from their own government mainly due to corrupt bureaucracy or poor delivery of services. One important organization that is credited with providing vital humanitarian assistance to the poor community in the region is Wokike also known as Womankind. An important and towering figure in the management and administration of Wokike is Hubbie Hussein al-haji, the current Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who is responsible for overseeing the organization’s massive operations. In a special interview with Adan Makina, WardheerNews’ own Editorial Chairman, Hubbie Hussein reveals the factors that made their operations a success in a land known for corruption and embezzlement.
WardheerNews (WDN): As the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Womankind, could you please shed light on the background history and operational procedures of Womankind?
Hubbie Hussein: Womankind Kenya was founded from a need-based in 1989 some Somali women come together to establish Ummulkheir Welfare group which is the precursor of Womankind Kenya (Wokike).
Hubbie Hussein
Hubbie Hussein, CEO of
Womankind Kenya was registered in the year 1995 as a Non-Governmental Organization under the laws of Kenya. Womankind Kenya is managed by a management team headed by the Executive Director, with backup and monitoring from the Board of Directors. The Executive Director is appointed by the Board of Directors and she is in charge of the day to day operations.

Since its inception WOKIKE has assisted communities in the region in establishing nursery and primary schools, a rescue centre for girls, supplying textbooks, assisting in payment of school fees and strengthening school management. In the field of health WOKIKE has been involved in raising the awareness on HIV/AIDS and FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) and building the capacity of the communities through health training. WOKIKE has also been involved in assisting communities to access water.  WOKIKE has also been involved in promoting income generating activities for marginalized groups and promotion of alternative livelihood for the communities such as agricultural activities through irrigation
WDN: When one pays closer attention to the word “womankind,” one is made to believe that your organization is striving to improve the living conditions of women and girls only. Is your organization exclusively restricted to the service of women and girls and that no room exists for men and boys?
Hubbie: Womankind Kenya serves both genders and everyone in the society is a beneficiary of its projects, however we give special consideration to Women and Children (both boy child and girl child). Our major aim is to promote and protect the rights of women and children, which is an entry point in serving the whole community. This rights include, rights to education where we constructs schools and offer scholarships, right to food where we support and encouraged alternative livelihoods, right to water where we establish water pans and boreholes, right to political participation where we train and advocate for women political participation.
WDN: What are some of your projects and how many people do you serve?
Hubbie: Womankind Kenya implements integrated programmes which aim in making the community self – reliant. Womankind Projects include:-

Food security and livelihood – this aim is in making the beneficiary self- reliant by supporting and introducing alternative livelihood mechanism.
Education – our region has the least percentage of school going age in school, this forced us to deliberate address the gaps that lead to this. Our measures under this programme include construction of physical infrastructure, teaching and learning aid, refresher training for teachers, girls and boys forum, and rescue centre for girls among others.

Women Empowerment – this programme deliberate targets to empower women on political, economic as well as socially. Under this we have political participation of women, Income Generating Activities for Women among others.

Water and Sanitation and Hygiene – Water is a basic need and no one can survive without water for a short duration. Our region is categorized as water deficit area; Womankind therefore took measures to bring water close to the people.

Health Programme – under this programme we implement outreaches and medical camps in liaison with the ministry of health.

Campaigns and Advocacies – this is deliberately used to campagin against harmful practices at the same time influence policies through advocacy
WDN: Where do you get your funding and the expertise required to run such a fast growing organization?
Hubbie: Womankind funding is of two folds, there is a certain percentage of its annual budget which is committed; this usually comes from development partners that we had a long term relationship while the second part is raised through proposal whenever there is call for proposal.
WDN: In a previous interview you had with RaadRaac program of Radio Wardheer-part of WardheerNews Media group-you noted that your organization was engaged in defeating women trafficking, particularly ethnic Somali girls. How is the current status of the trafficking problem and has it decreased or is it still an ongoing problem?
Hubbie: This is a form of slavery, it is unfortunate in this modern world certain people still practice slavery and their main target is the less disadvantage members of society who are easily swayed by just showing them a great opportunity. Human trafficking is becoming more sophisticated and
WDN: What has your organization done to overcome the horrors of female genital mutilation also known as FGM?
Hubbie: FGM is a violation of human rights and it is gender based violence, many young girls loss there innocent in a horror way which leads to a long term negative impact both physically and emotionally.
Womankind Kenya applied cross cutting measure to overcome and reduces the incidence of FGM. Among the measures used include, engaging with religious leaders to lead the campaign, training and empowering economically the practitioners of the exercises, establishing girls’ rescue centre which caters for girls that run a way from this negative practice, establishment of girls’ forums in schools to train and empower girls.
WDN: For generations, marrying off young girls at an early age has been a common practice among Somalis. How widespread is early marriage of girls in your area of influence? Do you think it has become more explosive or is it somehow diminishing? How does early marriage affect girl education in your region?
Hubbie: Marriage of underage girls is still a major issue. Girls drop out of school for them to be married off for an exchange of a small for the family. As you might be aware, nearly 70% of our communities cannot afford one meal a day, with this kind of pressure the family will find it advisable the marry off the young girls in an effort to reduce the burden of feeding and earn a small income that the family can survive with for few days.
The impact of this to education is an obvious matter, ones marriage arrangement starts the girl drops out of school, and hence fewer educated girls in the region which affect the whole society negatively in the long run.
WDN: Womankind Kenya has become a well-known organization that primarily caters for women and girls living within the margins of society. How have you been able to break barriers and have your voices heard in a Somali patriarchal society? 
Hubbie: For correction, we cater for the whole society though with special interest toward women and children (boys and Girls). The patriarchal society doesn’t allows women to take lead in any part of the society, but after long struggle and constant conflict, the society had to accept our position but after only successfully implementing project which are beneficial to the whole society.
WDN: What are the major concerns or impediments that you think are hindering the progress of Womankind?
Hubbie: As you might be aware, organizations purely rely on donors funding for the implementation of key projects, however with economic meltdown and the debt crisis in western world, corporate bodies are contributing lesser amount to philanthropy, which affects the final recipient of aid money for successful implementation of projects.
WomenKind, Kenya advocating for women to be heard
WDN: How is government and tribal politics affecting your organization? And is your organization getting the respect it deserves from the Kenya government?
Hubbie: Non-governmental organizations are in the business of complimenting government service, in an ideal situation NGOs and government agencies are to work in a cordial manner giving support to one another. However when it comes to issues of human right which womankind agitates for, the government always goes into defense and start giving threat to NGOs that are holding the government accountable, a case in point is in 2005 when Womankind was nearly deregistered for educating the people on a draft constitution that was to be voted for by the people.
WDN: What role do you think the anticipated Garissa County Government should play to enhance social development?
Hubbie: The Constitution of Kenya 2010 devolved government services to County levels. The national government is supposed to allocate a certain amount of fund to the county government which is meant for the running and development of the county.
It is the responsibility of the county government to utilize the fund prudently and also raise more funds from local levies, grants and loans for the development of the county.
The role of Garissa County Government is already clear in the Constitution of Kenya and therefore they have to abide by the constitution and take deliberate attempts to improve the living standards of the residents of the county. Currently nearly 70% of our resident live below two dollars a day, less than 30% of our children are in school, less than 1% of our roads are tarmac, over 500 of every 100,000 mothers who deliver dies for delivery related causes, over 500 children of every 100,000 children born dies of birth related complication, this and more are some of the issues the county government has to address. Therefore the best way to address these issues is to come up with a blue print for the county which should analyze the current challenges and come up with workable solutions.
WDN: What future plans do you have for developing the living conditions of women?
Hubbie: Womankind Kenya will continue to protect and promote the rights of women and children, this will be done through analysis of the rights of women and children and always strive to improve the current situation. Womankind will continuously engage with all stakeholders to advance the said rights.
WDN: Women are the main breadwinners of many Somali households. Given the necessary resources, do you think women in your region can attain self-sufficiency in the future?
Hubbie: Women are the backbone of the society and in many Somali household they are the main bread winners, women were able to this with limited support and resources. In event our ladies get necessary resource they will be able to do very marvelous and make the region self sufficient.
WDN: How effective is women participation in politics at the national, regional, and county levels? Do you think women are playing their rightful roles in politics?
Hubbie: The Somali patriarchal society inhibits the participation of women in positions of leadership, after continuous training and capacity building by Womankind Kenya; there is a new crop of women who are expected to play a great role in both the national and the county level of governments.
Most of the decision made by leaders directly affects women, therefore it is only fair for women to participate in shaping their own life and in the long run women will be planning their rightful roles in politics.
WomenKind, Kenya Girls School
WDN: How many educational institutions for women and girls exist in your region?
Hubbie: In the last few years there had been some few institutional of primary and secondary schools that had been established, however compared to boys’ institutions, this is just a drop in the ocean. In North Eastern Province of Kenya there are about ten boys orphan homes while there is only one girls orphan home, and for the secondary schools the ratio is almost the same with the orphan homes.
WDN: How many women political aspirants do you expect to field in the coming county elections?
Hubbie: The politics of the region is most of the times dictated by clan elders who do not support women aspirants hence discouraging their participation. However the coming election is expected to be a totally different ball game, though it is quite early to give a definite figure of the number of aspirant, I can confirm that in every competitive seat available there will be a lady contesting.
WDN: Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with our esteemed readers?
Hubbie: Thank you too for giving me the opportunity.
Other interviews that WardheerNews had with Somali professionals and scholars
Interview with AhmedNadhir Omar who is Contesting Garissa County Governor
Interview with Kenyan-Somali Musician Abdihakeem Affey aka Jabarti
- Interview with Ahmed Issack: Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission of Kenya
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An Interview with Dr. Mohamed Omer, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Somaliland 
WDN Interview with Nadifa Mohamed: The Author of Black Mamba Boy
Interview with Amb Abdillahi Said Osman
- WardheerNews Interview with Sheila Andrzejewski
An interview with Dr. Alim Ahmed Fatah
A Conversation with Ali Fatah: Chief of the GIS Division - D.C Goverment
Conversation with Somali Ambassador in Ethiopia
An Interview with Dr. Edmond Keller of UCLA
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