Once you leave Nairobi on road heading to the coastal regions of Kenya, you will generally pass a lot of small towns that have a small amount of activities taking place. Voi however, is a town you will not forget. Voi town may be mistaken as the commercial hub in Taita Taveta County, with a lot of modern architecture, robust town activities but it is not. Do not be mistaken, Voi is the largest town in Taita- Taveta County, located at the base of the famous Taita Hills and is a development hub that has been growing for very many years.
Voi unlike other towns is believed to have existed even before the Arab and Portuguese settlement in East Africa. It was a hug for the railway builders. That makes you wonder why has it not grown faster than Nairobi and Mombasa. Well, Voi has largely been a wildlife territory, with game roaming from the Tsavo National Park and moving all over the town as late as the past two decades.
View from the Taita Hills towards the Tanzanian border :Image courtesy of https://blog.zef.de/?p=3474
The park area covers 22,000 Square Kilometers hence leaving little land for expansion. However, due to its location, it has been an agricultural hub for farmers in Taita Hills.
It is believed that Voi will be among the leading towns in Kenya due to its huge economic potential. Following the unveiling of the ambitious Vision 2030 development blueprint, there were proposals that Voi be upgraded to a tourism resort city owing to the abundance of wildlife and tourist hotel businesses in the region and seeing that it is adjacent to the busy Nairobi -Mombasa highway, the Nairobi Kisumu Railway line and the expansive Tsavo National Park.
SIFA FM Voi is located at the heart of Voi Town center. The station first went on air in June 2008 to test the signals with music then was dedicated on 15th July 2008 to kick off live programming. Voi station was the first of the SIFA FM station that was founded by Transworld radio Kenya with the support of friends and Partners of Transworld Radio Kenya.
Sifa FM Voi 107.7 is the most popular Kiswahili station broadcasting in five counties; Taita Taveta, Kilifi, Kwale, Makueni and Kajiado. The station’s broadcasting is tailor-made to cater for all segments, youth shows, current affairs show, and family driven shows. We provide relevant content for almost all age groups represented in the area. Its slogan is “Pumzi ya Uhai” loosely translate to, ‘Breathe of life’. It covers a radius of 250 Kilometers with an audience reach of 600,000 to 1 Million people.
With the current Covid 19 crisis world Wide, operations in Sifa FM Voi to a large extent have been interrupted. Initially Covid-19 seemed to be an issue for the rest of the world but reality hit when the government began to set up measures. First it was the directive that people work from home, then came the dawn to dusk curfew as the infected patient numbers grew.
Different organizations have been giving the mandate of civic education in the county especially to those in the interior parts of Taita Taveta. The emphasis has been on hand washing and maintenance of hygiene. Among the active groups is Taita Taveta Human Rights Watch and Sauti ya Wanawake Mwangea. Unfortunately, their efforts have been frustrated by lack of water.
This however was solved to some degree with funding from ActionAid, who managed to distribute 26,000 liters of water to residents of Mlilo in Kishushe which is part of dry areas of Taita sub-county (Wundanyi) and promised to continue in this Covid-19 period based on the hopes of getting more funds.
A radio station like Sifa FM Voi sees frequent visitors from guests, to listeners to people who desire to partner. The Sifa Fm station manager, Edgar Kalimbo narrates the current challenges he faces.
Station manager Edgar Kalimbo
“My normal work life has changed tremendously. I am now forced to be extra careful when receiving guests at the office. Regardless it is still proving to be an impossible to completely bar off people from coming to the station, so we make it mandatory that guests wash their hands, sit far away from each other etc., which takes quite a bit of time to implement but we are determined to do so.
We also had to stop one very popular segment called Jamvi la Gumzo. The daily show that’s hosted by a team of 13 volunteer Pastors tackle intricate marital issues from 10.00pm to mid night.
Jamvi La Gumzo Pastors
We are also limited in movement in search of news worth stories. Every move is calculated and must be weighed and deemed necessary, oh what a life in a live radio station. Sadly, we had to release all our interns and students on attachment to reduce the number of people in the office premises.
Every coin has two sides. With corona-virus came in another level of hygiene and cleanliness I have never witnessed. From offices to the shops, markets and everywhere, suddenly most people are conscious in observing a high standard of cleanliness consequently putting more workload on the fewer paid staff.”
12 years after Sifa FM Voi went on air and we can truly say that God has been Ebenezer in our lives. Year after year he has carried us through situations. As we take time to pray and fast for our stations, partners and the work that Transworld Radio Kenya does we also will remember and declare over our lives,
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. [a] 2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, 10 no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15 He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
As we walk into our teenage years a lot of what has been of use to us is now at stake. The initial equipment has become obsolete and ministry work has increased but the personnel has not. We would like to ask you to support our work in Lamu in the following way:
• Live Studio Equipment
• Programme production equipment
• Support for ministry personnel
Below are our contacts for more details:
Call: +254 715 563 665
or if you would like to send a contribution of any amount you can send directly via Mpesa.
Pay bill number 826 420
Account: SIFA SUPPORT