Mashujaa: When times were tough, they stood out

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020 00:00 |
Loise Machira.

Supporting evicted families

After coming across a disturbing video online of a family in Kariobangi, Nairobi who had been evicted from their home in May, at the height of the Coronavirus , Loise Machira decided to do something about it. 

She went to Kariobangi to assess the situation herself, put on her digital advocacy cap for the wrongfully evicted masses and started a kitty to help resettle the families who were sleeping in makeshift tents. 

Kenyans contributed than one million shillings which Loise distributed to families through cash transfer payments to allow them to look for new places to stay in and pay for rent. 

She used the remainder of the cash to buy dry foodstuffs for distribution to the same people. 

She set up The Relief Connect, a community where volunteers could donate food stuffs or cash or even their time, towards helping out the Kariobangi evictees. 

Individuals and companies alike have donated foodstuffs, clothing, shoes, masks and money to the evictees, with more than 2,000 families benefitting from the drive.

 I didn’t give up on abandoned children even through Covid

Wamaitha Mwangi,  is founder of Angel Centre, which takes care of abandoned children.

She started the home in July 2010 in an unfinished one-bedroom apartment in Limuru town. The home currently cares for 55 children at a rental property behind Dagoretti High School in Waithaka. 

When Covid-19 struck she found herself in a tough situation after all  well wishers and donors pulled out.

She had to singlehandedly fend for the children in her centre. She did not falter. 

“The going might be tough, but I never think of giving up. Giving up will affect the lives of  55 children as well. I cannot let that happen so I keep pushing on for them, no matter how hard it gets,” Wamaitha explains.

From giving uniforms to feeding the hungry

Billian Ojiwa is the founder of Billian Foundation and the Ficha Uchi Initiative. 

He started the initiative in 2006 to provide school uniform to schoolchildren from needy families in slums.  

When schools closed due to Covid-19 pandemic, he had to re-strategise.  

Billian and his foundation switched to providing food vouchers to needy families. The families would go to shopkeepers with the vouchers and get food, then Billian Foundation would settle the bill later. 

“We have also been providing free clean water to different people in the community.

Our women at the centre  tailoring programme in the Ficha Uchi Initiative made 6,000 masks that were distributed for free in the community,” he said.

They also ran  a digital learning programme for secondary school students. They came to the centre every day for zoom classes and were helped with revisions. 

“We had 25 Form Four students, 15 Form Three students using our library and 12 Form One and Two students.

They are helped by our volunteers who are mainly university students from Mathare,” he said. 

He also partnered with Food for Education to provide daily free lunches to more than 500 students across Mathare slums who were engaged in meaningful activities in the community.

Human rights activist walks the talk during pandemic

Before Covid hit,  Wevyn Muganda was involved in community work, promoting education and peacebuilding in communities through discussions called ‘Maskani’ or ‘base’.

When the pandemic started,  Wevyn realised that most Kenyans were ill-prepared for the pandemic and the restrictive measures that came with it.

To help out, she teamed up with Suhayl Omar to form Mutual Aid Kenya. Mutual Aid is a grassroots disaster relief network whose collective commitment is to stand in solidarity with those impacted by disasters in the society.

Wevyn Muganda.

Mutual Aid was able to raise funds from well-wishers and to get volunteers with whom they were able to collect and distribute food to needy families, provide educational facilities such as books for those who could not access online learning, do community education campaigns on the need for proper sanitation and hygiene while providing sanitation stations and water.

They were able to impact more than 2,000 families in different slums in Nairobi and Mombasa.

“Kenyans are inherently good people. This has never been clearer than during the height of the Covid pandemic.

All the funds we raised as Mutual Aid were from well-wishers who saw our campaigns online or heard about us through word of mouth.

People also volunteered to come out and help us distribute food and books. We could not have done this without all those Kenyans who were willing to lend a coin or a hand,” Wevyn explains.

Food for all

Food continues to be the major source of concern in Kenya, with more than half the populace living from hand to mouth.

This means Covid and the restrictive measures that came with it put more than half the population at risk of starvation.

In the frontlines, ensuring vulnerable children and their families stay fed is Wawira Njiru, founder of Food for Education.

Wawira started Food for Education in 2012, with the aim of providing nutritious meals to school-going children, as no learning can happen on an empty stomach.

Wawira Njiru, founder of Food for Education.

She started by providing 25  children with lunch using her own money. She has fed more than five million children with free and nutritious school lunches.

While schools were closed indefinitely, Wawira ensured that the children’s parents were registered in a feeding programme where she provided them with dry foods.

Food for Education is now back to providing healthy and nutritious lunches for children who have resumed studies.

They have also set up over 130 sanitation stations in their partner schools to ensure the school-going children wash their hands to curb spread of Corona in schools.

Wheels for life

Covid-19 and the restrictive measures that came with it largely affected pregnant women and their access to prenatal and post-natal services. 

The Wheels for Life platform is an intervention measure started on April 28, where pregnant women can call 1196 for free and get medical advice from doctors and in the case where an emergency is detected get a free ride to hospital during curfew hours.  

The Wheels for Life project is a programme by a team of volunteer organisations which include Bolt, University of Nairobi, Amref, European Union, Ministry of Health, Kepsa and Telesky Digital.

Dr Jemimah Kariuki 

With support from the European Union through a Covid-19 Response Project currently being implemented by Amref Health Africa in Kenya, the initiative is expanding to Machakos, Nyeri, Nakuru, Kiambu and Uasin Gishu counties with the aim of facilitating the transportation of 3,500 pregnant women to health facilities and telemedicine support through the call centre for 36,000 women across said five counties.

The project, started by Dr Jemimah Kariuki aims to keep serving pregnant women even when all the restrictions get lifted.

Cup of uji and a lesson in kindness

In true spirit of kindness , Francis Amonde has been fundraising and buying care packages for families that are in need during this pandemic period. 

Francis runs a cup of uji initiative, aimed at ensuring that  children have at least a meal to keep them going in school.

The initiative that was started in 2017, gives school going children a cup of uji daily.

With the schools closed, Francis started the #beniceke movement, where he fundraises and buys food packages for families in need.

Since Covid started they have reached more than 5,000 families, in Nairobi and Murang’a.

They  provide them with dry foods and masks. With schools reopened, Francis is gearing up to continue providing a cup of uji a day and free masks.

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