Last week, we reported to you on the early threats of COVID-19 on our Kibera community in Kenya. Since then, while the number of Kenyans infected with the virus has remained relatively low at 122, the toll of the pandemic on residents of Kibera has been immense, as anticipated. With the majority of Kibera’s residents earning a living as day laborers, whose work has come to a grinding halt during this time, many families have been left without adequate means to survive.
March 16th marked the first day of closure of St. Vincent’s Nursery School. Without the two daily nutritious meals that we provide, we knew that many of the children we serve would be deprived of critical nutrition until our school can re-open. During the first week of our school closure, many parents shared with us their frustration and struggles around being able to provide food for their families. Too many parents reported that because of lost work, their families were living off of one meal per day in light of the pandemic.
We knew we needed to take action. We mobilized support from our kind-hearted donor network (THANK YOU!) for an emergency food distribution, which was coordinated by our Board and Program Administrator on Friday March 27th. Over 110 families received food baskets packed by our teachers, each containing 4 kilos of maize, 4 kilos of rice, 4 kilos of beans, 4 kilos of millet flour, 2 liters of cooking oil, 2 kg of sugar and bar soap for handwashing.
Recipients included approximately 80 families of our nursery school children, as well as families of children in our scholarship program and our own teachers. The food supply will last families for approximately three weeks, depending on family size. The distribution was conducted with the utmost care, with efforts made to stagger parents entering our facility to avoid crowds and a handwashing station set up outside our school gate so that each parent could wash their hands prior to receiving the food basket. During the distribution, our staff promoted messaging around hand washing as well.
Smiles of joy beamed across the faces of parents as they received their package. ‘I am going to cook a nice meal today for my family,’ one mother shared with another parent as she received help to carry the food wrapped on her head.
We know the need for additional food supplies will continue in the weeks and months ahead and we are continuing to work to see how we can best support our families, while also keeping our staff safe during this time. It is an uncertain time for everyone, but the food distribution made possible with your support came at a critical time for our children and families. We thank you for your continued involvement in our efforts to serve the most vulnerable families in Kibera.