Moses Omondi grew up in Kibera. It is the largest slum in Nairobi, with a population of over 500,000 as estimated by the UN Habitat. Omondi came up with an initiative called “Adopt a Family”. This is an initiative where a contribution of KES 1500 is able to feed a family of six for a whole week. Moses’ initiative is highly supported by organizations and Kenyans in the country or living abroad.
“I came up with this idea after three women came to my house in a period of two days asking me to give them work to do in order to feed their families. This was after the government had given guidelines to work from home. I reached out to my friends who also grew up in Kibera, former school mates and individuals who supported my initiative.” Omondi of “Adopt a Family” says.
Over twelve million cases have been reported worldwide. In Kenya, more than ten thousand cases are confirmed so far. Different sectors have been affected including the social, economic and political areas. Cabinet Secretary of Labour, Simon Chelugui confirms over 1 million people in Kenya have lost their jobs since the first Covid-19 case was reported in the country on March 13th. The government has put some measures in place such as giving stipends to the elderly, vulnerable families as well as tax exception to low-income earners among others to ensure Kenyans are able to afford the basic necessities, but all this is far from being enough.
Not every individual who is affected has been able to benefit from the government initiatives. Omondi has reached out to more than 500 families since he started this initiative in March 2020.
Halima Roba, a mother of 12 children, is one of the beneficiaries of the Adopt a Family initiative. Halima and her husband Hassan Hussein found themselves in a fix after measures restricting movement during the pandemic were put in place. They could no longer provide at least two meals in a day for their children. “I used to cook twice in a day. The children would take tea in the morning, go to school and feed there at lunch time, come back home where I would have prepared something else to eat in the evening.” Says Halima.
Photo: Halima and some of her family members
Since the closure of school and lockdown of Eastleigh where she used to get clothes which she sells, the family could only afford one meal. The husband, who was a casual worker, had to stop working since many offices were closed in Nairobi. In June, Kibera became one Corona-Hotspot in Nairobi. This situation had put some of the residents especially casual workers to miss opportunities to work in other areas many employers were afraid to hire people from Kibera and other hotspots of Nairobi.
Through a volunteer from Adopt a Family, Halima’s family was identified as one of the needy homes. “The lady (volunteer) found me sleeping here on the sofa with my children; she almost broke down when collecting details of my family. The following day, we were called to get the voucher,” says Hussein. With a broad smile, he couldn’t help but thank the Adopt a family founders as he says this is the best thing that could ever happen to residents of Kibera.
“If that lady (Volunteer) comes here, she will see the difference. Now, my children look healthy, they worry not about food since they don’t sleep hungry anymore. Not just my family, but also my neighbors who I share with after going for shopping” Hussein stated. So far, his family has benefitted from two vouchers worth Ksh.2000 each.
“This initiative not only provides food to the needy families but restores dignity. When I started the initiative in late March, I used to shop for the families and distribute the necessities, but now I give them the voucher and let them decide what they need most. We encourage them to shop for things that will be of help to their families.” Moses Omondi stated.
At the moment he is working with 15 volunteers who help identify the needy families and help distribute any other donation that they receive from well-wishers.
In Mukuru, another slum in Nairobi, residents have also had their share of struggle during this pandemic. Individuals and organizations have come up with similar projects to ensure families are able to afford the basic necessities.
William Muia, 22, who is a tailor, started an initiative to provide masks for the most vulnerable groups in the community. “There was stigma when I started distributing masks. People never wanted to wear them, by then; it was not a mandatory requirement from the government. I wanted people to be safe from the virus because by wearing a mask you not only protect yourself but the person next to you.” Muia says.
Photo: A volunteer with the children after donating masks in Mukuru slums.
Through an M-changa account, Muia and his team of three have been able to mobilize people through social media to contribute at least Kshs. 20 to help provide masks to the elderly, children and women who operate small businesses. In a period of two months, he has been able to reach out to 3000 families helping them to provide a mask to every family member.
Photo: Muia the founder of the initiative donating masks to Mukuru residents
“In a week, I can get around Ksh.4000. We distribute the mask at least three days in a week and try to reach at least 150 people.” Muia couldn’t be grateful enough for people who have reached out during these hard times.
Through these initiatives the communities have found hope and can persevere as all Kenyans cope to live with this pandemic. The spirit of giving and helping each other has clearly been demonstrated. “It is no longer as the saying goes, everyone for himself, God for us all, but it is by being compassionate to our neighbors and sharing what we have that is helping us overcome the pandemic.” Christopher, a resident in Kibera says.
Faith Chege is a Freelance Journalist. Share your feedback and stories via email@example.com.