CNN documentary on Kenya wins award

May 25, 2011 12:00 am

, LONDON, UK, May 25 – A moving story on the plight of mentally challenged persons in Kenya by CNN has won the Amnesty International Media award.

The 30-minute documentary titled \’Locked Up and Forgotten\’ highlights the neglect and social taboos suffered by the mentally disabled in the country.

The documentary which won in the television and radio category was done by CNN\’s Nairobi-based correspondent David McKenzie and aired in the monthly World\’s Untold Stories segment.

The documentary gives real life stories of mothers who have almost given up hope of their children getting well.

"Though I try to be strong, strength fails me completely. I am tired of this burden, It\’s not a light burden," says Milkah Moraa a parent who has locked up her son for 30 years.

"His siblings ask whether we have wronged God because we are really suffering. I can\’t even hang clothes outside, the neighbours say they stink," the troubled mother goes on to say.

The documentary also highlights the Mathari Mental Hospital where it shows a dark picture of mental patients locked up in deplorable conditions. 

"If somebody would understand that the extent is huge, I think then somebody can begin to act," says Eddah Maina, Chairperson of the Kenya Society for the Mentally Handicapped.

The award winning documentary also reveals a hidden life devoid of medical care and therapy for the mentally handicapped who are often ostracised by society, concealed and locked away inside their own communities, often by their own families.

Statistics indicate that there are an estimated three million mentally disabled individuals in Kenya.

The Amnesty International Media Award jurors praised the programme for being "moving yet constructive."

"David McKenzie took an unknown story and brought it to the attention of the world, testament that hard hitting journalism can incite global change," Executive Vice President and Managing Director of CNN International Tony Maddox said of the award.

"It\’s fitting that the Amnesty International logo is a candle because it is an honour and a privilege to be awarded this prize for a documentary that shines a light on the shocking state of mental health in Kenya and beyond," said McKenzie during the award ceremony in London.

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