We look back at our budget and plan for 2020 and don't know whether to laugh or cry! We are used to dealing with the unexpected in Kenya - or so we thought - but by way of natural disasters in areas outside of Kitale affecting the influx of people to Kitale or possible tribal violence at election times. We were not expecting Covid-19!
Government restrictions severely impacted our work on the streets from mid March onwards. Kenya went into lock-down which closed our Street Smart centre and prevented us using our mobile school. Lock-down and curfew severely restricted our outreach work also. However, we did manage to reintegrate a considerable number of children at the onset of lock-down. This was somewhat rushed but at least the kids were off the streets and we could more easily work with them in their family setting rather than in a heavily-policed town centre. We diverted our funding resources to emergency relief packs for families who suddenly found themselves with school-age children home all day and missing out on possible school feeding programmes and, even worse facing loss of income from jobs that no longer existed. The markets were closed, non-essential businesses were closed and there were restrictions on transport. All of this combined to severely impact the income of those working in businesses that were closed.
Kenya does not have a social welfare system and so there was no income assistance for the thousands who suddenly found themselves with no money coming in. We have been working directly with some of the worst-affected families to ensure they at least have some food on the table.
Like so many, we had not foreseen just how long this crisis would continue. Four months later, the country has just opened to some extent but schools and tourism are still badly affected and many still remain unemployed. Like so many countries, we are faced with the dilemma of opening up and easing lock-down versus climbing covid-19 cases. We expect another lock-down to be imminent as we do not have the medical facilities to cope with vastly increased covid-19 cases and the Government has done an amazing job so far in keeping the numbers at a manageable level but the sacrifice has been the economy.
So, we continue to do our best to ensure that children at least do not go to bed hungry and that we can rescue and reintegrate children from the streets as quickly as possible to ensure they are in a safe home when the next lock-down and curfew hit us.
We are thankful for your support through these trying times. We will continue to try and keep as many families from the brink as we can.