Friday, December 19, 2008

Kisumu Sister City Committee Honors Chairwoman

Roanoke’s sister city, Kisumu, is located just 60 miles from Kogelo, the ancestral home of President-Elect Barack Obama, where his eighty-seven year old grandmother, Sarah Onyango Obama, lives along with other family members. They are guarded by Kenyan police these days as the matriarch spends most of her day receiving guests.

Kisumu is an important port on busy Lake Victoria, the world’s 2nd largest fresh water body on the western facet of Kenya, keystone of East Africa.

At South Roanoke United Methodist Church last Thursday, the annual Christmas potluck dinner was held by the Kisumu Sister City Committee. Diane D’Orazio (pictured) stepped down as Chair of the committee after five years of service. Betty Kolb and Dr. Marylen Harmon (pictured) will serve as co-chairs beginning the first of the year. In another change announced Thursday, David Lisk has resigned as Executive Director of Roanoke Valley Sister Cities, Inc. due to poor health. Jack Thompkins who serves as Chairman on the Wonju Committee will be the new director of RVSCI along with Dr. Robert Roth, President.

D’Orazio presented a slide show of a trip to Kisumu in 2007. Mark Young pointed out the Vocational Training Center he built while on the trip. D’Orazio noted that the schools were largely empty when they visited and speculated that funding for school operation was not reaching its intended target. Slides revealed young boys living on the streets and the lack of clean drinking water.

A power sharing agreement has quieted the demonstrations that broke out over January elections but hopes of a better life have frustrated Kenyans. “Eighty percent of the businesses were destroyed during the violence,” said D’Orazio. The corrupt government wants to hold on to its power and money while the Kenyan people struggle in poverty. The US State Department now warns citizens to be on guard when traveling to Kenya.
Kisumu has been a Roanoke Sister City for over 30 years. The current focus of the Kisumu Sister City Committee is to build and nurture collaborative relationships that promote education and health care for children and young people while finding ways to reach out to the strong, resilient Kisumu citizens.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Local Events



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