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    Special Operations Forces participate in Baraza

    Special Operations Forces participate in Baraza

    Photo By Petty Officer 1st Class Tony DeFilippo | MOKOWE, Kenya - John Smith-Sreen, director of Democracy, Governance and Conflict for...... read more read more

    MANDA BAY, Kenya - People from the Boni Tribe participated in a Baraza with representatives from the Kenyan National government, the Lamu County government and the U.S. Embassy at the Hapa Hapa Hotel in Mokowe, Kenya, Nov. 5, to discuss their issues and concerns.

    The Baraza was organized by local community and government leaders, and American service members from Special Operations Command – East Africa, Team Manda Bay helped coordinate U.S. Embassy involvement.

    “Our mission here is to support the Kenyans in any way that we can and empower them to address their issues,” said a Team Manda Bay service member. “This was a perfect example of us taking a back seat and letting them take charge.”

    Team Manda Bay also helped provide security for the event along with the Kenyan Ranger Regiment (KRR), Kenyan police and various other security agencies.

    “We train with the KRR all the time,” said a Team Manda Bay service member. “We’ve shared a lot of knowledge with them, and today they were able to play a major role in the security for this event with us here to oversee and provide support.”

    The Baraza began with prayers from Boni religious leaders followed by a group lunch. Once the prayers and lunch were finished, Kenyan and American government officials gave opening remarks, and then Boni community leaders stood up to raise their concerns. Some of the issues included access to education, healthcare facilities and clean water as well as security concerns related to extremist groups in the area. Another major concern for the Boni people is ownership of their land.

    “The Kenyan government is building a new port in Lamu, which is making the area more appealing to investors,” said a Team Manda Bay service member.

    “This is great for Lamu, but the Boni people are concerned it could created a land grab. They want to be given land deeds, but the Kenyan government wants to turn their land into a reservation, similar to what Native American tribes have in the States, to prevent individuals from being taken advantage of.”

    Once the Boni people’s concerns had been voiced, John Smith-Sreen, director of Democracy, Governance and Conflict for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Kenya, spoke to the group about programs USAID has invested into Lamu County. Smith-Sreen also ensured the Boni people that the U.S. Embassy is committed to continuing to work with the county government to ensure the Boni people’s concerns are addressed.

    “I think this Baraza was a huge success,” said a Team Manda Bay service member. “We as Americans are here to help as much as we can, but the Kenyan people are the ones who can really make a difference here. It’s always better when people take care of their own community, which is exactly what the Kenyans are doing. We’re really excited to be a part of that.”



    Date Taken: 11.05.2015
    Date Posted: 12.22.2015 13:17
    Story ID: 184548
    Location: MANDA BAY, KE

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