For 25 years, Betty has run the successful Gatoto School that feeds and educates 1,000 students in Mukuru kwa Reuben, Nairobi. She used ingenuity and leadership to start it at the request of community leaders. Despite government promises, there is no free education within this slum - a crowded settlement where families often also lack food, electricity, water, and sanitation. COVID further disrupted school, livelihoods, and was a risk multiplier. As schools and meals stop, children go hungry.
COVID closures eliminated school meals - often the only source of nutrition for Gatoto students. Also during lockdown, parents' jobs in the informal sector evaporated meaning little money to feed kids. AFG food & PPE support was a lifeline to the most vulnerable this summer. As schools progressively reopen, Betty is again challenged to find resources to feed and repurpose the classrooms for returning students, as well as being creative to find ways to remotely educate those still in quarantine.
As COVID hit, with AFG funding, Betty pivoted school resources to keep families safe through the twin crises of COVID and hunger. Now with the mandated return of 4th and 8th graders, AFG is supplying two daily hot meals as well supporting Betty's redesign of classrooms and programs to meet new COVID protocols. For kids still at home, we are looking for creative ways to reach and teach them, and pushing for permission from the government to allow them back on campus for access to food.
Gatoto's ability to respond to crises proves again it is an anchor that stabilizes the Muruku community. As 4th & 8th graders returned to school last month, a 98% retention rate showed our success in sustaining the most vulnerable during this crisis. We are hoping younger ones will fare as well on their return. After 8 months, the excitement of returned students to learn, run, and play in safety brought tremendous joy. Gatoto remains a safe place for kids to learn and thrive despite tough times.
This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).
A Unique Aerial View of Gatoto
Coronavirus Update May 2020
Reflections from Community Health Volunteers