The 2023 Annual Kiiti Kamba Foundation (KKF) Meeting Featured Mental Health Conversations Between Students, Parents, and Alumni

Like many parts of the world, mental health in Kenya has become a huge issue, amplified by the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic.  As a result, the KKF team committed its 2023 Annual Meeting, held on December 23rd, to highlighting the mental health theme.  The keynote and group discussions centered around the mental health challenges that impact individuals and families while providing practical solutions to dealing with these problems.

The guest and keynote speaker was Ms. Mary Mnjama, Founder and Director, Build & Restore Counselling Services and Teule House, a focused residential space that offers psychotherapy services especially for women and girls dealing with eating disorders.

Keynote Speaker–Mary Mnjama gives a talk on mental health and facilitates a conversation between students, parents, and alumni

Mary has also started Mteule Clinical and Assessment & Training Centre, to assist individuals, within East and Southern African countries, in becoming associates of International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals (IAEDP) Foundation for which she is the current Kenya Chair and the Educational Affiliate for the East and Southern Africa region.

Focus group discussions featured fathers, mothers, current sponsored high school and university students, and KKF alumni exploring the causes and solutions to mental health within their homes.  There were thematic challenges mentioned as perpetuating mental health issues in homes.  These included: poverty, lack of communication, marital violence or divorce, negative influence of technology/social media on youth, and peer pressure that tends to increase the use of drugs and alcohol, among other things.  What were the solutions proposed?  Building better and effective communication, respect, and trust between parents and children were seen as essential aspects of reducing mental health problems in homes.

Beyond the mental health conversations, there were other speakers who were also inspiring.  These included: Mr. Tito Musyoka (Chairman, KKF Foundation) who led the group with a short reflection process to begin the meeting; Dr. Philomena Ndambuki (KKF Board Member/Senior Lecturer Emeritus, Kenyatta University); Mr. Anthony Mutua (Branch Manager, ABSA Bank, Wote); Daniel Nyala and Purity Mutinda (Department of ICT, Education & Internship, County Government of Makueni) who encouraged the students to engage within the digital landscape; Dr. Jane Mutinda (KKF Board/Senior Lecturer, Kenyatta University) who moderated the session; and Mr. Hillary Muthoka (Deputy Principal, St. Martin’s Kathozweni Secondary School) who spoke on behalf of educational institutions.

KKF Board members share reflections and moderate the sessions

Makueni County ICT Director speaks on the importance of technology in today’s world

Deputy Principal, Kathozweni Sec. School and ABSA Bank Manager (Wote) share words of inspiration and the value of hard work in education

Parents, both fathers and mothers, discuss mental health challenges in their focus groups and report back

Engaging student and alumni focus group discussions on mental health

Participants enjoyed sitting out in the park for lunch and tea breaks