Nov 2, 2020

One more hurdle to cross

The many families who trekked miles from their rural homes during the horrific drought of recent memory have been wondering if they might not have been better off to stay out in the rural districts rather than dealing with the issues that Covid 19 has brought to their lives.

Over the past couple of years, we have worked tirelessly to help these families to start afresh in an urban setting until such time as those who wanted to do so could relocate to their home areas safely.  We started with emergency relief, ongoing food parcels and, then, schooling for children and training for youths.  Those ready to do so were assisted with business grants to set up small businesses.  Our intention was to make these families self sufficient in order that they were better equipped to either stay in their new homes or to return to their home areas replete with some skills to earn a living and to find ways of surviving in such harsh environment.

Covid 19 has brought all of us new concerns and challenges.  It has affected our donors and reduced our income.  It has impacted our emergency aid programmes and training programmes.  However, despite that, we remain in contact with our beneficiaries and continue to do all we can to support them through these difficult times.

Our training programmes were largely halted by various government directives in March.  Fortunately, some trainees have been able to return in recent weeks and are due to graduate by February - a three month delay only.  This will see youths in a position to set up their own small businesses and support their families.  We continue to offer emergency food support to those who have lost their jobs and income during the pandemic as the government provides no social welfare net to help out.  Many working in businesses directly impacted by Covid 19 have lost their jobs and rely on handouts or alternative income.

Some families have decided to relocate to the harsh and arid northern areas they fled during times of drought and floods as they believe they will at least escape catching Covid 19 in a sparsely populated, remote area.  Medical bills are a real concern to many - there is no free medical care and the possibilities of Covid 19 affecting a breadwinner or a family member with underlying health conditions are very real as the infection rate climbs in Kenya, a country with little medical infrastructure to deal with a pandemic.

Those families who relocate are in a better position to survive this time around with their new lifeskills.  However, we all hope and pray that the spectres of drought and flooding will give some respite until such time as they find their feet again.  In the meantime, we continue to support those who constantly move from these regions to the town areas.  To do this, we always welcome the support of our donors.  Thank you all for your help during these trying times. 

Sep 21, 2020

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry

Our university students are still none the wiser as to when they will return to university.  We were told this would happen in January about a month ago; then three weeks ago we were told 'September'. We are now well into September and have been told October - then back to January.  So, we really haven't a clue when studies will resume.  Some private universities have started online classes for certain courses.  Unfortunately, both Jacob and Abel are in government universities which have not started any form of online study.  If they do not go back in January and manage to catch up on the 9 months they will have missed out on tuition in 2020, their learning is going to be set back by anything from 6 months to a year or more.  Adding semesters to their courses will of course not only mean they will graduate later, but will mean additional costs for a further year or so.  

This delay is so upsetting to the boys - and to all the others in the same boat as them. Financing youths in education is a struggle for many families and this delay could mean many will not return to education but will drop out now to pursue whatever income generation they can. This also is easier said than done as so many people have lost businesses and jobs due to covid 19 and finding any kind of paid work is a struggle.  This not only affects students stuck at home trying to make ends meet but is affecting their parents and families who may not be able to pay university fees in 2021 due to financial struggles now.

Abel and Jacob have both found local part time work to help survive this trying time but we are still subsidising their rent.  Both boys are determined to study as much as they can and to return to classes as soon as possible to finish their degrees.  They have strong characters due to the tough lives they have lived and they know how important it is that they graduate to have brighter futures.  We will continue to support them and hope that they can get back to their studies as soon as possible.

Thank you for helping them!

Aug 31, 2020

Maintaining status quo

Since covid 19 struck earlier this year, we have not been able to make the progress we would have liked with our project.  Many of our activities have been hampered by a combination of government restrictions, necessary caution and a reduction in donor funding.

Usually, August sees us receiving visitors from overseas, in particular students, who participate as volunteers in our mobile school outreach and, in turn, assist in our fundraising efforts.  This year, we have received no visitors due to covid 19 restrictions and, this has the knock-on effect of also affecting future donations.  And, this was exacerbated by a regular donor, who relies on fundraising through sponsored marathons, concerts etc in Europe, having to stop funding as such events cannot be held.

We were forced to close our street drop-in centre in March when the Kenyan government implemented 'lock-down' and closed all schools and rescue centres.  Schools and rescue centres remain closed and this is likely to stay in effect until at least January.  We put in extra efforts to reintegrate children on the streets in March to reduce numbers living on the streets of Kitale, knowing that we would not have a rescue facility available for the foreseeable future and our outreach work on the streets would be severely hampered by lock-down restrictions.

We concentrated our efforts in assisting the families of children we had reintegrated from the streets in the early part of 2020 and others in need, to avoid any possibility of those children sufferering from deprivation at home or feeling the need to run away again.  This aid took the form of our social workers visiting those families and taking emergency aid packages to them to ensure they could feed their families and also to provide emotional support.  This has been successful and we continue to do this.

When lockdown was lifted a few weeks ago, many families could once again resume some of their economic activiities such as small market stalls and casual jobs and this has helped them considerably, following on from four months of no real income.  Kenya does not have any social welfare support system.  Inability to work or trade means zero financial income.

Unfortunately, lifting of lock-down, and no schools being open, has meant that children have started to drift back to the streets of Kitale.  We are again doing outreach and trying to reintegrate children but this is being made more difficult by not being able to utilise our drop-in centre or mobile school as both facilities remain closed due to government restricitions.  

We continue to need help reintegrating children to keep them off the streets as much as possible.  In order to keep children at home, we still need to be able to provide their families with help to ensure the home remains a place of comfort, safety and enough food on the table until such time as covid 19 is completely under control and people can go back to normal life including school and jobs.  Many families rely on schools and sponsored or subsided schooling and school meals to help out in this regard.  School feeding programmes and regular classes help keep children fed and occupied and reduce the influx to the streets.   We need to step in and do what we can to keep children well fed and happy at home.

Thank you for your support in these trying times.

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