Kisumu-Roanoke Sister City Relationship is one of the Sister City relationships recognized by Sister Cities International (SCI). Created by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 at a White House summit, SCI is a leader in people-to-people exchanges with a network of over 600 U.S. cities with nearly 2,000 Sister City relationships in 136 countries on six continents. It is a nonprofit citizen diplomacy network that creates and strengthens partnerships between communities which promote peace, mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation through international exchanges and programs on youth and education, arts and culture, sustainable and economic development, and humanitarian assistance. Kisumu City has another active Sister City relationship with Boulder City CO United States.
Kisumu-Roanoke Sister City Committee has been supporting different programs since its inception in 1976. Its efforts have helped in improving the lives of the members of both cities through different exchanges and humanitarian assistance. This has been achieved through generous contributions of the members of the Sister City committee and other well wishers.
One of the aims of Sister Cities it to promote cultural exchange and friendship. For the past 11 years, the committee has been organizing and participating in cultural exchanges where they visit the respective Sister Cities to experience the diverse cultures. The cultural exchanges are used to embrace the differences in cultures and appreciate each other’s way of life. This fosters learning from each other and helps in building and sustaining friendship.
Another of the objective of City twinning is humanitarian assistance. This can take different forms for example; among other charitable activities, Kisumu- Roanoke Sister City committee has been assisting in fundraising for the New Life Home, one of the Children’s Homes in Kisumu through Dr. Ruby Sokwala. Dr. Sokwala volunteers her treatment services every morning at her clinic for the children form New Life Hope. This initiative gives an opportunity of health care to the children who would otherwise not access such medical care.
The charitable contributions have also been extended to support different children’s homes to provide medical services. Kisumu Medical Support Program supports five children organization by fundraising and sending their contribution to help treat children from these organizations.
Due to the national famine crisis, caused by drought in Kenya and across East Africa, donations from The Sister City Committee, and other organizations the New Life Home Trust and Barnabas Ministries Africa, are able to feed about 2,000 children. However, the Funds are still needed on a daily basis to feed and care for these desperately poor children.
Youth exchanges and education support is paramount to the sustainability of development of an area. The youth who may not get a chance to further education can be given an opportunity through sponsorships. Exchange programs between institutions give the youth an opportunity to explore the different learning environment and build network with others in other institutions. The committee has been involved in educational sponsorship for both high school and university students who are bright but needy. Plans are underway to start an exchange program between Maseno University and Holiins University in Roanoke.
Kisumu-Roanoke Sister City committe appreciates the Sister City relationship with Raonoke as one that is life changing. There is a lot that can be done between the two cities which can extend the benefits to the members of both cities. This includes avenues for trade between the two cities and tourism. Many people in Kisumu have actually benefited through education, medical and cultural exchange through this twinning program. With the support of Kisumu City Council leadership which is currently lacking, the initiative can go an extra mile.
These achievements and many more have been achieved though sacrifice and generosity of members of the Roanoke- Kisumu partnership. There is need for communities to initiate friendship with other communities outside their localities. Eastern Africa Sister Cities (EASC) provides such platform where cities, towns and counties are encouraged to twin with others within their countries, within the region and abroad. EASC’s main goals are to develop, coordinate, incubate, help sustain existing city, town and municipality links worldwide with emphasis to promote a south to south city twinning and strengthen Sister Cities in Eastern Africa region.
By Robert Gonzi.
Chairperson, Kisumu-Roanoke Sister City.