Increased civic-mindedness vital in new normal
It has now been over 100 days since the government announced measures aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19 in Kenya.
These measures took effect towards the end of March and they included: A dusk-to-dawn curfew for the whole country, travel restrictions to Nairobi, Mombasa and Mandera counties, and closure of bars and restaurants.
Additionally, it banned public gatherings and religious meetings. Social distancing and working from home became the new norm as we tried to limit contact as much as possible.
Over time the restrictions have since been adjusted. In these 100 days, the economy has taken a significant hit and the worse affected have been the low-income families.
Disruption of regular activities has meant those living day to day had even less to live on.
In the same period, a number of local NGOs, foundations and community-based organisations have taken a break from the usual programmes to support some of these families.
Over April and May, we saw organisations rallying the public to contribute to causes that targeted low-income families worse hit during this pandemic.
Donated funds donated have been used to purchase dry foods, toiletries and household items, distributed to various children’s homes and disadvantaged families. Private businesses also got involved in some initiatives.
Positive Action Kenya, a youth-led NGO registered in Kenya, had their Covid-19 Relief Drive in March and April and received monetary donations from the public (via M-Pesa) and food donations to support orphaned and at-risk children in Nairobi.
Wings Kenya, a popular restaurant in Lavington also partnered with Positive Action Kenya in this initiative that benefitted 388 children spread across four children’s homes in Dagoretti constituency.
Wezesha Binti Foundation, on this year’s Menstrual Hygiene Day,distributed reusable sanitary towel kits to 77 girls based in children’s homes and rescue centers in Nairobi.
The Relief Connect was founded in this period to raise awareness on social injustices and to provide aid using holistic interventions.
Some of these organisations have chartered new paths in socio-economic development and civic engagement within urban communities.
All these are welcomed developments, especially since effects the pandemic will have on the economy may go beyond the next two quarters of the year.
As we continue adopting habits that make up the ‘new normal’, it is worth considering to up our civic-mindedness as individuals and within our social circles.
One way to do this a is through donations to different initiatives specialised in community outreaches and supporting disadvantaged families and groups.
Involvement in activities undertaken by these organisations is also worthwhile.
This may range from participating in food distribution to mentoring teens and young adults, and even offering pro bono services to local institutions.
For young professionals, the latter will go a long way in furthering their experience in their field of practice.
In the long run, citizen participation in the issues affecting our communities may be the way to build a culture of holding government and public institutions accountable, whether in an urban or rural setting. — The writer is a Programmes Officer at a non-profit organization—[email protected]