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ICAP Columbia University Employee Narrates The Plight Of Kenyans Working At The Institution

An employee from ICAP of Columbia University in Kenya who sought anonymity confided in us about the frustrations that some Kenyan employees face under Dr Mark Hawken, an expatriate Country Director from New Zealand heading ICAP in Kenya. ICAP registered in Kenya as Centers for International Programs is an American NGO with headquarters at Columbia University, New York.

At ICAP offices in Kenya, if you are not in Dr Mark’s camp with Doris Naitore Odera, count yourself in trouble. In 2015, Mark declined to reinstate Dr Emily Koech- Director of Programs who had come back from a 2 year MPH scholarship under Columbia University that owns ICAP. This was due to the influence of Doris Naitore Odera (current Director- Strategies & Partnerships) who has pocketed this mzungu Country Director such that anything Doris says is like it comes direct from the Almighty God.

Dr Emily was a highly qualified independent-minded doctor and a darling of New York & CDC , a situation that made Dr Mark & Doris uncomfortable. Dr Emily joined the University of Maryland where she has brought on board many grants. We have learnt that Doris Naitore is the one who runs ICAP in Kenya. Whatever she says, Dr Mark has to follow. Doris only holds a diploma in Clinical Medicine from KMTC but she is the one who attends all high-level doctors conferences both local & international in the company of Dr Mark. And yet there are highly qualified doctors like Dr Maureen Syowai, Dr Mbae, Dr Ouma, Dr Vakil, among others Recently they just came from New York after attending the Country Directors’ Annual meeting.

In 2017, Doris ran parallel with Dr Caroline Ng’eno, Regional Director- Nyanza region & Duncan Okado-Training Coordinator-ECHO Project. She frustrated Dr Ng’eno till she resigned & quit & she made sure Okado’s contract was not renewed in October 2017 and his position given to one Millicent who is a sister to her ( Doris’) husband. The most recent case is of Tom the Director Human Resources. Tom who has worked with ICAP for long was viewed by staff as the force behind cohesiveness & team spirit in Kenya- the only safety valve for staff based on his vast experience in people management.

Any staff who leaves ICAP never forgets Tom. He creates a work environment where all staff irrespective of gender, qualifications, positions, ethnic, religious and racial backgrounds enjoy working. Tom ran parallel with Doris in July & August this year when Tom declined to employ full-time her sister Susan Mwenda and terminate the services of Alice the Administrative Assistant- Front Office come 30th September 2018. Alice is one of the long serving & smart working staff holding a post-graduate in HR while Doris’ sister Susan has a certificate course in the ancient Secretarial course of the 1990’s. Tom was against this issue and even wrote Dr Mark an email about it. To make Doris happy, Dr Mark openly told Tom that since he doesn’t want Alice to go, he ( Tom) will go. End of Aug 2018, Dr Mark issued Tom with a notice of termination under the guise of reduced funding.

On realising that ‘reduced funding’ is not a cause for employee termination under the employment Act, he issued Tom with another inadequate notice of termination mid of September under the guise of redundancy. All these frustrated Tom to an extent of developing depression, hence hospitalisation at Nairobi hospital. While still undergoing medication on sick-off after duscharge, the Muzungu Country Director sent Tom another letter of redundancy varying the initial redundancy package by almost half giving the reason that he deducted the gratuity that Tom had bn recieving up to 2016, not knowing the difference between gratuity as company benefit & redundancy as regulated by law in Kenya.

We have also learnt that Tom has a guaranteed employment till September 2021 with 3 months close out period up to December 2021 on the Care & Treatment Program of JOOTRH. Evidence available confirms that Tom actively participated in writing the proposal for this 5 year award that came in to effect in October 2016. The staff who sought anonymity also confirmed that the mzungu Country Director also sent Tom’s CV ( Biodata) to the donor- CDC which played a key role in winning this 5 year program. The third phase of this program started on 1st Oct 2018. Evidence also shows that the mzungu Country Director reallocated Tom’s KENPHIA project budget to Doris from 1st October 2018. This is because Doris’ NIMART project had come to an end, hence facing eminent redundancy. Doris has never been on KENPHIA project since it’s inception in Oct 2016. This is how negatively influential Doris is.

The source also confirmed to us that Tom sought a court injunction in September 2018 challenging the two confusing notices under certificate of urgency but the court didn’t grant Tom his quest. He’s now battling while outside without income, his illegal notices having lapsed on 30th September 2018.

We’ve also learnt from the source that Tom’s plea to the mzungu Country Director to spair his job due to his age and having children in the university and others doing class 8 fell on deaf ears. In fact Tom is taking care of a needy boy upcountry who has done class 8 and has passed .Tom shared this information with the Muzungu Country Director but all in vain. Tom also confirmed to mzungu that he had loans running with his 2021 plan, but still the mzungu wanted him out so that he pleases Doris. The mzungu even instructed the advertisement of 2 positions for Deputy Community Mobilization Advisors which Tom qualify for but still he could not reserve one for Tom, if at all he viewed Tom’s redundancy as real. He made sure the interviews were secretly done on 20th September 2018 at the NCPD (National Council of Population & Development) offices at Chancery building when Tom was hospitalized at Nairobi hospital. The source also confirmed that the mzungu Country Director organized for a formality interview on 18th October ( when Tom was already out) that placed Doris’ sister Susan in the position of KENPHIA Administrator.

The source, being a current staff but who is careful not to fall apart with Doris also confirmed how staff shed tears on 1st Oct 2018 when Tom went back to the office after two weeks of medication on depression. Dr Mark, the Country Director came with the security to flash Tom out of the office. He never even had the courtesy to greet Tom & find out how he was doing. He changed Tom’s office lock and locked in Tom’s personal effects. Recently Tom had to plead through Prof Wafaa, ICAP’s top most in New York for Dr Mark to allow Tom access his personal effects.

We learnt that Tom’s problems with Dr Mark Hawken started in April this yr (2018) while coordinating a 3 months KENPHIA training of 430 staff in Nakuru. Tom’s staff in HR who were registering participants were required in Nakuru at 10 am on one Sunday to start registering a new team that was reporting.

One of Tom’s Hr staff- Emma Engoke commutes from Machakos. She was to leave her house at 3 am so that she boards a company vehicle at the office in Kilimani. Tom requested that Emma be given a company cab because it was risky for an employee ( on her rest day) more so a woman to walk thru the dark night to a bus stage and start waiting for a public service vehicle. Dr Mark on email declined and instructed that Emma finds her own way to the office. This is being insensitive to staff safety & security especially a female employee. Cases of rape are on the rise, some resulting in to murder.

A Country Director at Mark’s level should best know this. Or because it involves a black skin, he doesn’t care. Tom by virtue of being a New York Security Focal Person for ICAP in Kenya appointee drew Mark’s attention to the policy on Staff Safety & Security in the Hire Manual but still it seemed nothing to the Muzungu. Tom in the same email also pointed out a secenario where one of the staff by the name Dr Momanyi Ogeto of Nyanza was mugged at 2 am early this year by thugs at his gate on returning from socialization. This did not please Dr Mark. He recalled Tom from Nakuru where he was coordinating the training. The source confided in us that Dr Momanyi of ICAP in Kisumu had been drinking in the company of Dr Mark, Doris and the ICAP Tanzania team of the ECHO project who had come for Best-Practice Expedition in ICAP in Kenya. Dr Mark has really kept this a top secret such that he does not want ICAP New York office to know.

We’ve also learnt that Dr Mark is taking ICAP for a ride. He has engaged in part assignments of teaching & medical practice at Agakhan University Hospital where he spends most of the time using ICAP’s vehicles or cabs. We do not know whether the Immigration Department and the NGO Board gave Dr Mark a work permit to serve both ICAP ( Centers for International Programs-Kenya) and Agakhan University Hospital. We are bringing this to the attention of the Immigration Department & the NGO Board to clarify this to the public. The source confided to us that Doris has been using a close relative at the Immigration Department to renew Mark’s work permit every year. This is the relationship of the two is very strong.

Otherwise the source said there are more qualified Kenyan local doctors in ICAP Kenya including those who left like Dr Emily Koech who can serve very well as Country Directors. A good example is Dr Eliud Mwangi who left ICAP to become the Country Director for Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric Aids Foundation ( EGPAF).

We are therefore appealing to relevant authorities to investigate Dr Mark Hawken of ICAP at CVS Plaza, 5th floor, junction of Lenana & Kasuku roads, Kilimani, Nairobi



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