We send greetings to you, our supporters, during a very difficult time, hoping that this finds you well and safe. Since you are likely concerned and wondering about the COVID-19 situation in Kenya and the Care Centre (KOCC), we send you this update.
Kenya COVID-19 updates
As is happening everywhere, the Republic of Kenya is facing a crisis because of the COVID-19 virus. At the writing of this newsletter, there are 142 confirmed cases in Kenya, but numbers are rising each day, and many fear that this is just the beginning. Health systems in Kenya are much weaker than in the United States, making it all the more important to contain the spread before it moves more quickly.
Over the past few weeks, the Government of Kenya has closed all schools and universities, banned public gatherings, limited funerals to 15 people, and prohibited communal worship at churches, mosques, and temples. Non-essential workers must work from home. Restaurants can only serve to-go food, market centers are shut down, bars and clubs are closed, and public transport vehicles must maintain empty seats between all passengers while passengers must wear face masks. All villagers have been required to set up hand-washing stations at their homes (a bucket with a tap). The most extreme measure is a strict curfew ordered by the President from 7pm to 5am.
Care Centre COVID-19 updates
There are not yet any confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kakamega or elsewhere in Western Kenya, but the Care Centre is not taking chances and has shut down its offices. All children who live at the Centre returned home to their villages and families in mid-March when schools closed. Staff are working from home via phone and laptops as best they can. Social workers and the high school department are calling all guardians to help them understand and deal with the challenges of the pandemic, including guidelines to follow to avoid the virus, and to offer advice and support. Agriculture officers are calling families to check-in and advise them regarding their farming endeavors.
Primary and high school students are studying from home, doing their best to focus and learn despite lack of instruction and guidance from teachers. Families are planting and tending their farms, hoping and praying for a good harvest. The economy is at a standstill, and family guardians' usual economic survival efforts are greatly threatened now and in the immediate future. Nelson Ida, the Care Centre’s Administrator, explains that it is confusing and difficult for people to stay at home since they normally go to markets daily to purchase food, and most have no means of storing food safely at home. Many people earn a living by doing casual jobs (earning around $1 to $3 per day) and running small businesses (like selling vegetables). But with things at a stand-still, they have no source of income. Many of the families we deal with live at a great distance from medical facilities which are ill-equipped to deal with a crisis of this scale. Everyone makes sure to be home well before dark, observing the night-time curfew since ignoring it can result in arrest.
This is a difficult time for all, but somehow people in Kakamega maintain hope, as they always have, that a brighter future will soon come. At the moment, however, many of the children and families we support are sleeping hungry and lack funds to buy soap. As such, we will be using organizational funds in ways we were not expecting, specifically, we will soon be sending $38 to all 235 sponsored students’ families to help them buy a month’s worth of food and soap. We are asking you to help us with this. Donations we receive now are more important than ever to the well-being of the children, young people, and families of the Care Centre community.
Donate online to COVID-19 family relief through the red buttons at the top and bottom of this post (bank transfer, credit/debit cards, and PayPal accepted). Checks can be sent to: 51 Hunter Rd, Freeport, ME, 04032.
Even in these uncertain times, great progress has been made in this project. Keep your eye out for our regular newsletter in a week or two, containing lots of wonderful and encouraging news updates on KOCC's work in Kakamega.
Friends of Kakamega's News & Updates
This page offers occasional highlights, news, and updates about our work in Kakamega.