This week we follow up on success stories from the paralegal outreach program. The purpose of the outreach is usually to empower the community and creating awareness on matters such as citizenship, specifically registration and documentation. Article 27 of the Constitution of Kenya caters for Equality and freedom from discrimination where under sub article 2; Equality includes the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and fundamental freedom. Additionally Article 56 of the Constitution of Kenya caters for rights of minorities and marginalized group where it states that the state shall put in place actions and programs designed to ensure minorities participate and are represented in governance and other spheres of life but this is usually not the case as the process to acquire national documentation by the minority groups is frustrating and most of them just end up giving up. during outreach programs we meet a lot of individuals without documentation in the community that have the potential to change the community.

Through the outreach program, Makkah Yusuf, one of our paralegal came across Saumu who is a member of the Nubian community. Saumu Ali Abbas is a soft spoken and extremely intelligent 22yrs old lady who has been trying to apply for her ID card since she was 18yrs old. Saumu did not finish her basic education, neither did she attain tertiary education, but this does not stop her from aiming for the skies. She went to the registrations office and started her application process but she wasn’t successful. Makah bumped into her at the registrations office as she was being taken in circles and we started the whole application process all over again. The first three times she applied, her paper always ended up missing thus forcing her to re-applying again. Other times she went as far as booking for the national vetting but every time she went for vetting her name was missing on the vetting list, all this time she was tagging along with her to follow up with the registrations office. there are no explanations given to citizens on such short comings and one is expected to reapply quietly.

Along the way she got pregnant and stopped the application process for a while. Pregnancy can be challenging to juggle alongside looking documentation. After her delivery our paralegal followed up on her again so that we could continue to pursue for her document. The registrar asked for her to produce her primary leaving certificate which she didn’t have because she didn’t finish her primary education. She accompanied the client to her former primary school and explained to the headmistress her situation, she then issued us a letter stating that she schooled there but didn’t seat for her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and that she couldn’t be issued with a leaving certificate because her admission number couldn’t be found. Saumu submitted the letter to the registrar who accepted it but she asked her to take her birth certificate for verification at the civil registry. The registrar said she’s sending her because, ever since her office sent her document to the civil registry there hasn’t been any response. This is another registrations office where most of the delays was observed.

In 2020 due to the COVID19 pandemic, her process met further delay because all the government offices were closed. Some of the major challenges she faced due to lack of ID card were that she wasn’t able to apply for her child’s birth certificate since she’s a single parent. She couldn’t get the kazi mtaani job offered by government or any other kind of job, also the government and non-governmental organizations was giving small stipends to citizens during the pandemic period but she didn’t qualify due to the fact that she lacked an ID card. One time she was forced to use her sister’s ID card so as to secure a job opportunity she was successful and managed to work for some time since it was just a contract for some few months.

All this while she was still following up on her ID application in November 22nd 2020 NRF in conjunction with the Nubian Youth Council held a meeting at the Makina Mosque with about 30 youths who were experiencing challenges with their ID application. From that meeting we managed to do a collective case of all these people and followed them up with the registrations office, this is when Saumu finally got her break through and she was scheduled for a national vetting held in December 7th 2020. She attended the national vetting accompanied by her mother both their thumb prints were taken and she filled the application forms , she was then issued with her waiting card and told to go collect her document after 2 months. She finally got her Identification card and is happy that perhaps now she can make a living.

This is just another case in the pile of casers on how without a strong backing, it is hard for community members to get documented.  As the Nubian Rights Forum, we promise to continue giving a platform and a voice for the undocumented kenyan citizens who are discriminated because of their unique characteristics.