Kenjin-Tatsujin

Miriam K. Were


Kenya
Chancellor of Moi University
Co-Founder of UZIMA Foundation-Africa

Biography


Prof Miriam K. Were is married to Humphreys R. Were, an Agriculturist, and they have children and grandchildren.

Prof Miriam K. Were is a Medical Doctor (University of Nairobi), and holds Masters and Doctor of Public Health degrees from Johns Hopkins University in USA. She holds Batchelor’s degree in Natural Science and qualified to teach Secondary school level Biology, Chemistry and Physical Education which she did for two years before Medical School. In her health career, she has worked for the Ministry of Health of Kenya; lectured at the University of Nairobi and has taught at McGill University in Canada as an Associate Professor. Between 1985 and 2000, she worked in the United Nations agencies of UNICEF, World Health Organisation and the United Nations Population Fund.

She has been Chair of Kenya’s National AIDS Control Council; Chair of the International Board of the African Medical and Research Foundation; Member of the Board of Global Health Workforce Alliance amongst others.

She is currently the Chancellor of Moi University, a Member of Champions for AIDS-Free Generation, Kenya’s Goodwill Ambassador for Community Health, Co-Founder of UZIMA Foundation and serves on various boards.

Prof Miriam K. Were is widely published professionally and she is the author of a biography and four novels.

Among the honours she has received are Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize by Japan; Queen Elizabeth II Gold Medal for Public Health; George G. Tolbert Award of the National Council of International Health, USA; Knight of the French National Honours for work in Mother and Child Health; UNICEF’s Maurice Pate Award for Contribution to Primary Health Care; Award of Outstanding Merit by the National Council of Women of Kenya; Shujaa (Heroine) for Academic Prowess, Kenya & Elder of the Burning Spear in Kenya’s National honours. Miriam K. Were has received Honorary degree of Doctor of Science from Moi University in Kenya in December, 2008; The Honorary degree of Doctor from Ochanomizu University in Japan in February, 2011 and Doctor of Humane Letters by DePaul University, Chicago, USA in June, 2011.

Message


I dream of an Africa in which every household has access to nearby Community Health Services (CHS) that provide health-promoting, disease-preventing and first-line curative services: An Africa in which CHS is an entry wedge for empowering and enlightening broad-based Community Development; An Africa in which CHS is linked to health facilities thru referral;

I dream of an Africa where households are established by informed and positively empowered men and women in which emerges true partnerships between wives and husbands, fathers and mothers further contributing to the enlightenment of society;

I dream of an Africa where households are supported by empowered communities as they learn the art and science of parenting; enlightened parents that raise loved and loving citizens;

I dream of an Africa where every child has access to effective Preschool, Primary and Secondary Education; an Africa with well-established Universities where those who qualify and desire University education may study and also with properly established Training Technical Institutions;

I dream of an Africa where games, sports, song, drama and dance become means of individual and group joy and satisfaction as empathy and compassion become the channels for nurturing a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood nationally and internationally.;

I dream of an Africa that is developed, peaceful and stable; An Africa standing shoulder-to-shoulder with other regions of the world and participating in birthing the Global Community in which we shall all be at home in our journeys on planet earth!

As a member of Kenjin-Tatsunjin of ASHINAGA, she prays that the scholars from the Ashinaga Africa Initiative (AAI) make big contributions to bring about this Africa she dreams of.

Letter of Appointment


From the left, Professor Were and Ashinaga President Tamai

Enhancing the qualities of concentration & focus for success in scholarships and service


Professor Were giving her speech at the Ashinaga Uganda KokoroJuku

On 14th – 15th August, Ashinaga Uganda was honored to receive a visit from Professor Miriam Were, Chancellor of Moi University and member of the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. Professor Were is a world-renowned public health advocate and among her many achievements is her contributions to HIV/AIDs prevention in Kenya as the Chair of Kenya’s National AIDS Control Council from 2003 to 2009. She is also the recipient of many awards including the first Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize.

Professor Were gave a talk to students at the Uganda Rainbow house and the following is a slightly abridged version of that talk.

Thoughts To Ashinaga Scholars On Concentration & Focus

Being associated with Ashinaga and a great man and mind like President Yoshiomi Tamai, we all need to aim at making great contributions to our own lives, to the lives of others and to the world. This is particularly so for Ashinaga Scholars who are being supported by and through Ashinaga.  I believe that each Ashinaga Scholar wants to be part of the Ashinaga greatness. I would like to put it to you that the ability to concentrate and focus is very important for scholarly success and for success in service that promotes the well-being of humanity. Here are some thoughts that I have found to enhance the capacity to concentrate and focus.

Realizing How Good Life Has Been To You

We all live in the shadow of those who are no longer with us. There are also those who are alive who faced the challenges that Ashinaga Scholars now face but are not Ashinaga Scholars because they were not lucky enough to be selected into the Ashinaga program. Therefore, every Ashinaga Scholar should be deeply grateful that the Ashinaga hand has reached them. A sense of deep gratitude is very important because it calms down the mind and helps us to feel good. I have had challenges in my life and yet the hand of compassion has often picked me out of those challenges and difficulties and placed me in situations that made it possible for me to benefit from various programs. I have felt deeply grateful for every opportunity and this has helped me to concentrate and focus in order to achieve success, so I could benefit from the opportunities that came my way. I recommend a sense of deep gratitude for life and its opportunities as very important for developing concentration and focus that you may succeed in what you do.

Developing the Capacity to Delay Some Experiences until Later

Sometimes — in fact many times — we are called upon to delay what we may wish to do today. Sometimes this is not because what we want to do is wrong or bad but because if we do it today, it will interfere with something urgent and important. Technically this is known as delayed gratification. For example, as a student, you may be required to study for an examination yet at the same time you feel like spending time talking with your friends or spending time on social media or to go off clubbing! It may not be bad or wrong to talk with friends or to be on social media. But doing this when you should be preparing for exams will interfere with the primary responsibility of the hour or time. Therefore, it requires that each one develops self-discipline to focus on the primary task of the moment and delay gratification of the other good things to a later date. For those who have had the chance to benefit from the generosity of others, delayed gratification is one way of thanking them by showing a sense of sacrifice in order to achieve the highest possible success.

Professor Were giving her speech to AAI Scholars

Successful Management of Bodily Demands

There are some bodily demands which are essential and some that are optional. For example, having adequate sleep is vital as is eating properly. Most of these physiological demands must be fulfilled otherwise the body cannot function well. So, everyone must know what these are and how to fulfill their demands. Sleep is not optional!

But there are also demands of the body whose fulfillment is optional. Let me mention one of these which is very common. I am referring to the sexual demands of the body. When I taught at high school and then at university, I found students who simply drifted in and out of sexual events. If it was a female student, what brought a break from sexual activities in those days was pregnancy. Since boys didn’t get pregnant many simply continued to drift and drift forever. These days in addition to pregnancy, there is HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases which put both boys and girls at risk. These can have a serious long-term effect on one’s life and may even affect one’s family life. If for no other reason, each one must think carefully about sex in relationships due to the risks involved.

I put it to you that there is capacity in every human being to delay sexual intercourse to a more appropriate time. It is an example of delayed gratification. What are your strategies for delaying gratification?

How Well Can You Manage The Future?

I bring this up because I have dealt with students who are so preoccupied with the future that they keep being worried because they are not sure of this or that in the world or in their countries. I put it to you that no one can know exactly how to control or organize the future. It is unwise to waste opportunities of today because of preoccupation with worries of the future. Your preparation of today may be what is needed to impact the future positively. You may even write out “WHAT I WOULD LIKE THE FUTURE TO BE LIKE.” This is to generate some thoughts and not to pre-occupy you. As that future becomes the present, apply yourself to it with deep positive anticipation, diligence and with all your heart.

Make It A Point To Live With Integrity

We live in a world with many perspectives and points of view. Sometimes this leads to the misunderstanding that everything is acceptable.  And so, people live untruthfully and have double lives.  This outlook tends to go with a focus only on the self at the expense of others. It also tends to go with a pre-occupation with getting as materially well-off as you can at all costs. This is what is driving the culture of corruption in the world.  It is the outlook that is obstructing improvement of the well-being of the majority of the people of Africa as it extends to the dishonest management of public resources. In the end everyone’s well-being is compromised. I therefore urge you to live lives of honesty, fairness, and transparency, which reflect an outlook that cares about both yourself as well as concern for the common good. Africa needs young men and women of integrity who will focus on improving the well-being of all Africans.

The Spiritual Component of Life

In most people, the points I have referred to above get linked up through a spiritual perspective of life. To many people on this planet, there is a realization that there is more to life than just the physical existence of each individual. While some people abhor this, others are encouraged by the belief that there is a power bigger than their own power or will with which we can work to bring about a better future for all. It is a power that can help see each of us go successfully through all the challenges that come to us. Personally, I have found this spiritual base in the Christian faith. I recommend to each of you that you get a good understanding of what the spiritual base of your life is and how that is impacting your outlook on life as well as your relationship with other people and matters of integrity in your life.

To AAI scholars, I extend to each of you my best wishes and prayers for your success as you go on to have a great life that will positively impact Africa and humanity as a whole.

Professor Were with Ashinaga Uganda staff