FOUNDER-PRESIDENT'S REPORT FOR 2012
NEKWA TODAY and THE WAY FORWARD
February 12, 2013


CURRENT INTERIM MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE

Some of the new management committee officials during a commitee meeting on Saturday January 19, 2013.
Left to Right: James Ngari (Clerk), George Chege (Treasurer), Harrison Maina ( President) and Richard Odongo (Vice President)


   
Founder-President     -Harrison Muiruri Maina        - Malden
 Vice-President           -Richard Odongo Makokha    - Chelmsford
Secretary            -James Njoroge Ngari        - Worcester
Treasurer               -George Gitonga Chege        - Dracut
Ambassador-at-large       -Dr. Catherine Mwaura        - Worcester

NEKWA LAUNCH AND VISION
   
NEKWA was officially launched on April 14, 2012 by a group of Kenyans at a Ghanaian Community hall located at 92 Stafford St, Worcester, MA 01603. This momentous event in the history of NEKWA was graced by the presence of Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, Kenya's Foreign Affairs Assistant Minister, Hon. Richard Onyonka and Worcester Mayor, Joseph M. Petty among other dignataries.

NEKWA was formed to create a benevolent fund for the purpose of repatriating deceased Kenyans by mobilizing resources of Kenyans in the New England region. The fund would eliminate the need for frequent burial fundraising events and lessen the stress family members undergo when they simultaneously mourn the death of a loved one as they endeavor to raise burial funds within the Kenyan community.  

MEMBERSHIP

NEKWA membership is on a voluntary basis. A one-time $50 registration fee is required when the membership application form is submitted. The application form can be downloaded from the NEKWA website www.nekwa.org .

Membership has been growing steadily and as of February 12, 2013 there were 79 registered members.

Kenyans from other states beyond the New England region are also welcome to join and are encouraged to register. Some Kenyans from the states of Indiana and Washington have already registered while a few from northern states have enquired about registration. 



ACTIVITIES

Initial Members Meeting

The initial meeting took place at Cummings Park Center, Woburn, MA. on Saturday November 20, 2010. Five Kenyans, including an outspoken clergyman in Boston, attended to start a community organizing initiative.

A call by Harrison Maina, through the media and personal contacts, increased the group number to about 16. This group of very interested Kenyans held a series of planning meetings at Dunking Donuts on 73 Drumhill Road, Chelmsford, MA.

The group appointed Victor Rie to serve as President and Harrison Maina as Vice-president. It is this group that named the budding organization, New England Kenyan Association (NEKA). Victor Rie has since relocated from Massachusetts and Wangeci Mathai took over as president.

The group decided to create a broad awareness by organizing civic events in the community and pitching NEKA as the only all-inclusive Kenyan organization in New England. This was a deliberate strategy to make NEKA stand out and also attract Kenyans of diverse affiliations and regional backgrounds.

Following the initial meeting, a poll conducted by Ajabu Media indicated 83 % of Kenyans in the region approved the formation of a community organization led by regular Kenyans. 

Madaraka Day, 2011

Over 300 Kenyans converged at South Common Park in Lowell, MA in December to celebrate 2011 Madaraka day. This was the first Kenyan national holiday celebration organized by NEKWA, then known as NEKA.

Hunger Funds Drive, 2011

In 2011, NEKWA organized a hunger funds drive to aid famine-stricken Kenyans. This initiative was joined by Kenyan organizations based in New England led by the Kenyan American Pastors Association.

The drive received a lot of support from the Kenyan community and over $15,000 was raised. 

Unfortunately, a split in the fund raising committee occurred when NEKWA insisted on transparent accounting of the funds. Some officials keen on hijacking the fund-raising process away from NEKWA rejected calls for accountability and transparency.

The fiasco that ensued forced NEKWA, the original organizer, to withdraw from partnership with the Pastors’ Association and the Diaspora Council to the extent that accountability and transparency could not be verified in the financial dealings of the committee.

Three months after the funds drive, and after persistent media enquiries, officials of the funds drive reported that they had wired the funds to the Kenya Red Cross account held by Kenya Commercial Bank in Nairobi.

They posted a wire transfer request statement of the sending bank in the USA in a social media website operated by one of the officials as proof of the transaction. However, they never provided a corresponding statement from the receiving bank in Kenya to confirm that the funds were indeed received by the Kenya Red Cross. .
 
This incident caused a bitter fall out in the Kenyan community with many Kenyans expressing anger at how the process was mishandled. Personal and political interests injected by some officials led to the delay in sending badly needed funds to starving and dying citizens.

NEKWA decided to disassociate itself from the fiasco and concentrated on its basic mission of uniting and mobilizing Kenyans for the common good. NEKWA, however, has not ruled out partnering with organizations if differences can be ironed out amicably and funds handled with accountability and transparency.

2012 Events
 

NEKWA-organized events in 2012 include Madaraka Day Cup soccer and basketball tournament held on June 9, 2012 at the South Common Park in Lowell, MA.

There was also a dinner party at the Safari Café in Worcester in honor of Rev. Mary Mambo. She is the founder of Victory Foundation, a Kenyan based non-profit organization that helps AIDS-orphaned children.

NEKWA also sponsored a Mashujaa (Heroes) Day celebration on October 22. Several Kenyans in the diaspora were honored as Kenyan Diaspora Heroes. Among them was Dr. F. George Njoroge Mwangi, a Kenyan researcher based in the U.S. who recently discovered a drug to cure Hepatitis C. Dr. Njoroge was consequently awarded the Hero of Chemistry Award and inducted into the Scientific Hall of Fame by the American Chemical Association. He is an outstanding role model and inspiration for Kenyans in the Diaspora.



Annual General Meeting (AGM)

The Annual General Meeting was held on Sunday November 11, 2012 at the Medical City Conference Room located at 800 Cummings Park in Woburn, MA. The conference room facility was sponsored by Ajabu Media. About 22 members attended.

However, after reports of the event appeared in the media, many members called to complain they were not aware of the AGM. This was reiterated during a conference call held on December 4th, 2012 attended by 14 members.

Then NEKWA president, Wangeci Mathai, had the responsibility of sending out the meeting invitation to all members but did not accomplish the task entirely and some members were left out. This was another situation that exposed some shortcomings of the previous management committee and intensified the call for re-organization of the committee.

Death of a new member

Barely three weeks after the AGM, John Mukora, a newly registered member, called NEKWA officials to report that another newly registered member, Bernice Andugu of Springfield MA., had passed away during a visit to Kenya.
 
Upon review of the registration documents on file at the NEKWA office in Malden, officials could not verify the membership of the deceased and Mukora was informed of the outcome.

However, Mukora revealed that he had submitted the late Andugu's membership application form and $50 registration payment to the president, Wangeci Mathai during the AGM. After two days Wangeci confirmed that she had in her possession the late Andugu's application form and a $50 check written by someone else on behalf of the deceased.

An urgent conference call was organized by Harrison Maina on December 2, 2012. Two members of the previous management committee and several NEKWA members discussed the matter.

Despite concerns that the deceased passed away while her membership fee had not been deposited into the NEKWA account, and the $10 monthly benevolent fund contribution had not been received, and NEKWA was low on funds, it was agreed that members contribute some funds in good faith to support the family. The purpose was to project a positive image to the Kenyan community and create awareness of NEKWA’s commitment to tackling such misfortunes.

A follow up conference call on December 4th agreed that each of the 52 currently registered members would contribute $20 each towards the burial expenses of the late Andugu.

Several NEKWA officials attended a memorial service at the late Andugu's residence at 76 Pinevale Street in Springfield., MA. The officials handed over $200 to the family of the late Andugu as initial payment, with the expectation that the balance of $840 will be handed over once all the members had completed depositing their donations into NEKWA’s bank account.
 
Unfortunately, due to co-ordination and communication challenges experienced by the previous management committee, it is not clear how much members have contributed to date and whether any additional funds have been forwarded to the late Andugu’s family. 


CASE FOR RE-ORGANIZATION

    Previous Interim Management Committee

Although NEKWA has experienced progress since inception, all has not been rosy with regard to the 2012 interim management committee. Inter-personal relationships between members of the previous committee degenerated to the point where the committee became totally dysfunctional.

A few months following the launch of NEKWA, two of the five interim committee members including the treasurer, abruptly resigned citing conflict of work schedules.

The remaining three officials consistently failed to reach a consensus on how to finance operational costs and how to compensate officials who had spent considerable time, effort, and resources on NEKWA activities.

The management difficulties faced by NEKWA were apparent during the first Annual General Meeting held on November 11, 2012 at the Cummings Park Center in Woburn, MA. During this crucial meeting attended by about 23 members, only three officials attended and it was obvious to the members that the interim committee was facing serious operational challenges.

Consequently, at the end of the meeting, a special committee of five members was commissioned to come up with recommendations on how NEKWA could finance the benevolent fund and recurring operational costs among other issues geared towards strengthening the organization. The special committee tabled a comprehensive report during a conference call on December 22, 2012.

Among the recommendations was a call for an election to fill the vacant committee positions. Unfortunately the dysfunctional 3-member committee proved true to its name. The committee members failed to agree on implementation of the recommendations despite holding several meetings. 

In an urgent effort to save NEKWA from imminent collapse, NEKWA founder Harrison Maina appealed to several members to form a new interim management committee that would spearhead NEKWA activities in 2013 and organize member elections. The new interim committee appointed Harrison Maina as the new Founder-President to ensure NEKWA stays true to its vision.

On January 6th, 2013 the new interim committee was ratified during a conference call attended by about 20 NEKWA members.


Handing Over

A handing over meeting between the previous committee and the new committee took place at the current NEKWA office in Malden on Saturday January 9, 2013.

The former president, Wangeci Mathai, accompanied by former Director and acting Co-Vice President Hosea Karanja handed in most of the organization's documents in their possession to the new committee. The former officials pledged their support for the new committee in their arduous task of uniting Kenyans in the region for the benefit of the community and future generations.

Notably, the previous committee did not provide a report of receipts, income and expenditure incurred while they were in office. Also, they did not hand over NEKWA’s check books and ATM card. However, they submitted a bank statement dated January 4th, 2013 showing a balance of $1,837.44 .

    New Management Committee, 2013

The new committee held its first meeting on Saturday January 26, 2013 at the NEKWA office in Malden, MA.

The committee had a very fruitful meeting which laid out a program of activities for 2013. It also came up with proposals for consideration by members. Some of them are;

1.    Expand NEKWA’s vision and mission to include social-cultural activities
2.    Promote businesses owned by NEKWA members
3.    Register NEKWA as a 501-c non-profit organization
4.    Implement a computerized accounting and database package
5.    Hold fund-raising activities to finance recurring operational costs
6.    Intensify recruitment events in cities populated by Kenyans
7.    Hold monthly family-oriented get-togethers
8.    Monthly contribution to include $5 to meet administrative expenses
9.    Provide easy and varied means for members to make contributions

MONTHLY CONTRIBUTION

Each member is required to contribute $10 every month to boost the benevolent fund. Contributions can be made using any method listed below:-
1.    Depositing checks and cash in NEKWA’s account number: 00462539695 at Bank of America. Ac. Name: N.E. KENYANS WELFARE ASSOCIATION
2.    Sending checks to Treasurer c/o NEKWA, 190 Salem St, Malden, MA, 02148.
3.    Paypal payment using email funds@nekwa.org
4.    Paying by credit card on NEKWA website www.nekwa.org

Please notify the treasurer of your payment by sending a copy of the deposit slip to NEKWA office or sending an email with details of the transaction to funds@nekwa.org

GENERAL MEETING

A members’ general meeting has been scheduled for Sunday March 3, 2013 at 2 p.m. at the same venue as the previous AGM, i.e. 800 Cummings Park, Suite 4580, Woburn, MA.

The agenda will focus on the recent management committee changes and plans for the future.

ELECTIONS

A date for elections will be proposed at the general meeting.


CONTACT DETAILS


For more information about NEKWA, please use the following;
1.    Website:         www.Nekwa.org.
2.    Office address:     190 Salem St, Malden, MA
3.    Email:            info@nekwa.org
4.    Telephone:781-605-1513
5.    Fax:             781-605-1523
6.



Yours faithfully, 

 
Signed:…………Harrison Maina ……………………………………..

Founder – President:  
Date: Tuesday, Feb 12, 2013

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