When we heard that coronavirus had reached Kenya, straight away, we set up the handwashing stations the children use in our centres outside the gates of our projects for the community to use. But we wanted to do more.
At this point, we turned to our friends in the community.
We used to run a microfinance programme that supported hundreds of small-businesses around Kibera. Though the programme is now closed, we remain good friends with our past members. Our staff team set out around Kibera to meet with these business owners and ask a few well-positioned businesses to run a community handwashing station. The response was amazing. The business owners immediately understood the need for the handwashing stations and were happy to take on the responsibility of running and replenishing the stations with support from Turning Point.
We now have 13 stations set up around Kibera and hope to increase that to 25. You can find all 13 stations on this Mapkibera map on the Ushahidi platform that is tracking cases of Covid-19 and resources available to stop the spread throughout Kenya.
When we reached out to the families we serve, we found a small number of our student’s parents know how to make a simple liquid soap at home. We’ve mobilised these parents to supply our handwashing points with soap. Another small group of parents know how to sew; we set them to work, making reusable cotton face masks to distribute to our student’s families. They are serving their community while also gaining a small income to support their families at this time when work is so hard to come by. We’re also partnering with local shop-owners to provide food vouchers to our student’s families.
One of our values as an organisation is to work relationally because so much positive change can be achieved through relationships. We can see this value bearing fruit at this time of crisis. At a time when its difficult to continue many aspects of our work, community members are stepping up to enable us to continue serving our students, their families and the whole neighbourhood. We’re so grateful for our team who continually invest in building relationships with the people we serve. The time they take to sit and talk with a parent, to stop in the road and share a joke with our neighbours, to buy a chapatti and catch up with a local business owner – it is all valuable and it all adds up. Finally, we’re so grateful for the wider community who are so ready to join hands (metaphorically, if not physically for the time being!) to help the whole community through this struggle.