Youths on the forefront against Covid-19 pandemic
Manuel Ntoyai @manuel_ntoyai
Evans Gachagua and Ishmael Ngaruiya are two young entertainers whose work was halted with the announcement of lockdown worldwide due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Acrobats by profession, the two ply their trade in China, with Evans in Hangzhou and Ishmael in Gaungzhou
“I came home in January because I wasn’t feeling well. I had some chest problems and went to India for treatment.
When I came back the lockdown had been effected. While at home, I hooked up with Ishmael, with whom I had grown up,” says Evans.
“Growing up, we did not have social halls or public spaces to practice nor was there a group to join.
We would go to Huruma or Dandora, but it is at Sarakasi Dome where we perfected our skills and before long, we got an opportunity to work in China. I went in 2017 and he followed me the following year,” he adds.
Entertainment or arts in China is more celebrated than here, says Ishmael, a lesson Kenya can learn from the country.
“The Chinese value their cultural heritage and arts in general. Every state has state of art facilities such as parks and arenas where we perform.
We have different groups from different nationalities with each allocated specific time for performances,” he says.
With travel restrictions countrywide effected, the two started working with other youths in Ruiru, whom they’ve been training as acrobatics.
“A well wisher, who noticed our problem of lack of a training venue, allowed us to use his land around, which we have fenced with old iron sheets.
We have been able to attract a number of people from the age of five years to 30s,” states Evans.
They noticed most young people who came to the sessions were from the streets and were not able to fully work out because of hunger.
“From our savings, we started making porridge. Acrobats need a lot of energy to sustain what they do on stage,” Ishmael intimates.
Their little tinsel would soon come under dark times as they were forced to seek help from friends, many of whom have responded positively.
On this day however, they are on a different mission. Together with other like minded youth who have grown up in Ruiru town, they have come together to form an initiative to better their welfare and that of other youth.
They call themselves Team Kubwa, a registered Community Based Organisation (CBO), which has its membership drawn from tens of self help groups, all under 35 years.
“We came together during this period to harness our energy into one main course. By partnering with other established organisations, we have managed to put up 15 hand washing points across Ruiru constituency.
We also distribute soaps, hand sanitisers, uniforms for matatu drivers and conductors for saccos operating in Ruiru town, says the group’s founder Kimani Nduta.
Kimani says Team Kubwa members have volunteered to man the stations, refilling the sanitisers and also sensitising the community about staying safe and flattening the Covid-19 curve.
“As a youth leader, I like the way young people have come out to help with the situation despite being the major casualty of the pandemic.
We have lost jobs and closed businesses, but this should not dull our spirits. We have shown that through working together with other like minded people, we can achieve better things,” he says.
With partnership from Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO), Sarakasi Trust and Crime Si Poa, the group is an example of how community organisations have rallied up their members, in a bid to curb the Covid-19 pandemic.
“One of the positives about the situation is that we have seen organisations work together like never before and this emboldens the Sustainable Development goal number 17, on Partnerships to achieve the goal, “ says Pete Manson, Founder Crime Si Poa.
“Our partnership with SHOFCO has seen us mobilise and deploy resources to different communities to enable them fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Other organisations have also been key to help us set wash stations in Mathare, Githogoro, Huruma, Kawangware, Kibera and now Ruiru.
All these have been made possible through the network of youthful organisations we work with, “he adds.