Dance queen who inspires slum girls - Daily Nation

Dance queen who inspires slum girls

Saturday January 5 2019

Dancer and Divas Power  Initiative  founder Moesha Kibibi Tajiri.

Dancer and Divas Power Initiative founder Moesha Kibibi Tajiri. PHOTO| MARTIN MUKANGU | NATION 

By THOMAS RAJULA
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On Sunday, December 23, 2018, hundreds of girls received a Christmas unlike any other. Moesha Kibibi Tajiri, a professional dancer and founder of Divas Power Initiative, distributed donations she had received following her powerful story on NTV's Churchill Show on the eve of Jamhuri Day.

The only female dancer and a founding member of FBI (Focus Beyond Imagination), Moesha, aka Moesha Kay, 22, had told of how she was struggling to raise money for talented but needy girls through a competition she had held on December 8.

In total, she owed Sh350,000 yet she had only managed to raise Sh56,000 from the gate fees.

When she was eight, Moesha entered a school dancing competition and won. She started getting into more competitions and winning. In Class Five, she entered Malta Guinness Street Dance and went on to represent Kenya in South Africa. In 2009, she won the Can You Dance competition.

However, her strict Muslim relatives discouraged her from dancing. In Class Eight, they asked her to choose between dancing and her education. She wanted both. One night she returned home to find herself locked out. At 13, Moesha started fending for herself in the streets of Majengo, Nairobi.

All the FBI founding members grew up in Majengo. They would practice in an open structure in the slum. They took part in the first Sakata Dance competition in 2009, where they finished as second runners-up, winning sh250,000. Moesha used her cut to pay for her Form One school fees. During the day, she would sell groundnuts. At night, street children would sleep at the space they used for practising.

WINNING

Moesha got away from four rape attempts before she decided to stop tempting fate and rent a mud house in Majengo at Sh500 a month. She took in 10 homeless girls. She also got a school to take them in.

When Season Two of Sakata came around, the FBI crew were urged to participate. With hardly enough to eat, and still selling groundnuts, Moesha fainted from exhaustion and hunger during one of the show’s recordings, injuring her knee. They won the competition and she was able to pay fees for herself and her girls, who were then 15.

Moesha’s relatives then came for her, saying they were proud of her accomplishments. She decided to let them back into her life.

“I lost three girls under my care to HIV before I had the money and three other teenage girls committed suicide before I could take them in,” says Moesha.

She moved to a bigger house in Highrise, Majengo. As the FBI crew started performing all over Africa and her fame grew, more girls gravitated towards her.

In 2006, FBI crew spent two weeks in the streets of Las Vegas after certain national and county government entities promised to send them money. Luckily, Kenyans in Las Vegas responded to their plea on social media and took them in. Still, they managed to come out as Best Cultural Act.

In 2015, after being prompted by girls all over the country, Moesha started "Coming To Your Hood". “I started in Kajiado. There was such a low turnout from girls,” says Moesha.

That’s when she came up with Divas Power Initiative, to encourage girls and show them that they could pursue and achieve their educational or talent ambitions. She sent proposals to companies and government ministries for aid. No one responded.

LACK OF FUNDS

She took it upon herself to talk to and train young girls. She has taken the initiative to Mombasa, Moyale, Kisumu and other counties’ slum areas. She is currently mentoring about 2,500 girls.

“The most important part is sitting one-on-one with each of them. It helps me determine how I can help some of them,” she says.

She planned to hold a dance competition for girls aged between nine to 15 in 2017. Before every performance, there would be a short clip where each girl would give an account of her background to show the challenges she was facing.

However, lack of funding made her postpone it. This year, she approached YADEN East Africa and told them that she needed a venue, and they got her Pangani Liberty Hall. She approached Churchill Show’s producer Leonard Kitili, and he promised to do the set up and production of the event. Dancers she had mentored volunteered to be staff at the show. Divas Dance Competition took place on December 8, without the award money.

Moved by the stories of the girls, Churchill called her to the Jamhuri Special Show. After her interview on stage, Nana Gecaga, the chief executive of Kenyatta International Convention Centre, pledged Shh100,000 to her initiative. By the end of the show, the pledges totalled Sh1.2 million.

“Then a lady from the crowd took the microphone and urged the attendees to donate whatever they had on them. We collected Sh136, 000 in cash,” says Moesha.
Safaricom chief executive Bob Collymore offered to give 18 of the girls educational scholarships for five years.
There have also been donations of foodstuff and clothes from well-wishers. The money will be used to get the needy girls food, medicine, uniform, school fees and other essentials.
Of the of the girls she started with, three are in the US pursuing degree studies; two are in mass communication and one in medicine. That first batch is now part of the patrons of Divas Power Initiative.

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