What strange times we are living in! Who could have imagined the global disruption brought upon us all these past months by Covid 19? In Kenya, we have mixed blessings. The Government acted swiftly when the country’s first case was diagnosed and closed down international air traffic. The Ugandan authorities closed their land border with the country and, recently land borders with neighbouring Somalia and Tanzania were also closed. A track and trace system was implemented, quarantining those with the illness and their contacts and this continues. We now have just over 1,000 diagnosed cases in the country, mainly in Nairobi and Mombasa. The rest of the country underwent varying degrees of lockdown and stay at home recommendations. Schools and universities were closed as were large markets, churches, hotels, restaurants (except for takeaway food), sports facilities and ‘non essential’ businesses eg hair salons. Although this was a wise move in the early days of the pandemic to prevent loss of life and pressure on a health system ill equipped to cope, as two months have passed by, people are really feeling the economic strain in a country that does not have unemployment assistance or other social welfare supports. The large self-employed sector are really feeling the pinch and suffering genuine hardship. The same applies to those employed in businesses impacted by the lockdown such as tourism, where many staff have lost their jobs and income. Our boys in university were sent home in March when all learning institutions were closed. Both boys are from impoverished backgrounds without parental support so are reliant on us to help them survive through these difficult times. Both of them have always been willing to find some casual work to help out but, right now, there is little by way of casual work and, what there is, is in high demand. Furthermore, Kenyan institutions of learning lag behind in terms of online classes and there was little time for teachers and lecturers to prepare ‘holiday assignments’ to be taken home as the announcement that schools and colleges would close immediately was made over a weekend. So, the boys are reliant on being able to access the internet and do their own research and revision with no assistance in order to keep up to date on their studies. This, of course, requires niceties such as electricity, internet access etc which we take for granted in the west but are not always available in Kenya where daily power cuts have been the norm in this part of the country. However, they are trying to keep up with their studies and to occupy their time effectively. Of course, like every student in the country, they are hoping and praying that they will be able to return to their studies soon to avoid having to add an extra semester or worse to their time in the education system. This is now becoming an increasingly likely scenario. In the meantime, we are providing them with basic essentials and moral support to get them through this. And that is where we need your help. In addition to these two boys, we are also trying to provide such support to many youths in our area who suddenly find themselves with no income at all. Thank you for thinking of them.
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