It is said that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step and so has it been for Asia Suleiman Ramadhan.
From humble beginnings serving Kibra residents as a community worker, Asia has worked her way up to occupy an office at the Kibera District Commissioner’s (DC) compound. Presently, she serves her the public as an administrator in the capacity of Assistant Chief-Kibra sub-location that includes Kibra, Lindi and Makina areas.
Ideally, the core responsibilities of the local administration is to ensure peace and security for people and property as well as promoting peaceful coexistence, cohesion and integration among different communities that exist in Kibra.
Other responsibilities include identifying and assisting those eligible for registration to acquire documents such as ID cards; verifying applicants seeking loans such as youth and women funds among others. When Muslim Times 3600 paid her a visit, it is evident that her work schedule is a mixture of almost everything-to say the least.
Despite the fact that her office is meant to handle civil cases, it is dispute resolution cases such as marital disputes, landlord vs tenant, attending to assault victims among other cases that consume the bulk of her time. “The public harbours unrealistic expectations that the chiefs’ office is where one can resolve all their problems,” she says. “The best way we handle such cases includes using mechanisms such as referrals and arbitration/mediation,” Asia adds.
In addition, the Nyumba Kumi initiative members and village elders also come in handy in resolving/arbitrating cases. For cases that are too complex to handle, Asia refers them to her superiors. “Inheritance matters are very sensitive and need to be handled carefully. These, I refer to my superiors,” she says.
Indeed Asia, loves and enjoys her job going by how she attends to the public in a composed manner despite the challenges that come with it. “The best and most fulfilling part of my job is when differing individuals walk out of my office having reconciled or resolved their matters,” she adds.
Asia attributes these to her skills as a community worker way before she landed the position of an administrator.
“I am a social worker by profession and hold a diploma in social work and community development. I also worked for various Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and Self-Help organisations,” she says. Asia has had a stint as a librarian and also holds a certificate in counselling.
Armed with different skills and networks in the community, Asia tried her hand in politics between 2011-2012 having held the national treasurer in a political party. That’s not all, she had a shot at the elective position of Member of County Assembly (MCA). “I did not give up despite having failed to clinch the nomination,” she says.
All in all, the local community has fully embraced her and despite all the success she has had, Asia has not lost touch. She continues to mentor aspiring girls/women and once in a while gives motivational talks. In other instances, she still manages to visit local youth groups in their maskani (base) and elsewhere. Interestingly, it was during such a visit that she was able to convince a youth who had a “phobia” about visiting the local administration offices to apply for identification documents. “Many youth generally fear our offices for reasons best known to them. However, this one came and followed due process before he got his documents.”
Her mobile number is in the public domain as a way of encouraging the community to come forward with information. She is in almost all social media sites as a way of boosting security and sensitizing the community on various government policies. “It is easy to get in touch this way with youth who are afraid to visit our offices for one reason or another.”
Asia also thanks her community and family for embracing and supporting her. Finally, to enhance her capacity, Asia is currently pursuing a Degree in Political Science and Public Administration at a local university. She says that she has her sight trained on being promoted to a Chief all the way to becoming a PS (Permanent Secretary). Her message to young Muslim girls and women is; “It is possible! No matter how humble your beginnings are, just give it your best shot!.” .