Empowerment doesn’t stop during a pandemic. It steps up.
I want to keep each of you informed during our current pandemic. I have been in constant contact with Norah Otondo, our Program Director in Kenya, and our CBO Board Chair in Kenya, Zedekiah Otolo. As of today, Kenya has 30 reported cases of COVID-19, most of which are in the Nairobi area, and one death. We are over 200 miles away from Nairobi, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t being vigilant. Here is what we are doing to protect our girls, women, and staff.
The Big Picture
The President of Kenya closed the borders, schools, and businesses after the first case was discovered. Understandably, my trip and the four sponsor’s trips next month were canceled. Although Kenya is limiting the number of passengers being allowed in public transportation vans, we are exclusively using Norah and Zedekiah’s private cars for all transportation. A 7 PM to 5 AM curfew was just announced as well. Hand sanitizers and disinfecting products are not widely available, but Norah understands the importance of handwashing and cleaning surfaces. Still, walking to the local market for fresh food is a necessity, just as going to the grocery store is necessary for us.
The Girl’s Program
All nine of the girls in our program, who are assault survivors, were driven in private cars to live with one of Norah’s sisters in the countryside. This got them out of the crowded apartment where they struggled to find a place to study and were exposed to others in the apartment complex, as pictured below.
Now, the girls are able to play outside and continue their education as Norah’s sister is an experienced primary school teacher. The girls also take advantage of educational TV programming offered by the government. Since there is no WiFi, they don’t have access to computer programs. Another one of Norah’s sisters has a big vegetable garden nearby, so they have access to safe produce. Norah wisely stocked up on staples, so everyone is safe and well-fed.
We have come up with a solution so Norah can pay QFE’s quilters via their phones for work completed in March. In April Norah will send each woman a stipend so they can buy essentials for the next 6 weeks.
Additionally, we will thoroughly train one of our outreach workers in public health hygiene and she will continue teaching and maintain contact with our women by phone. Most women in QFE’s support groups do not have electricity or TVs and don’t have access to public health messaging.
The Bottom Line
Because of the support we received from you last year, we have the financial resources we need for the remainder of 2020. This is huge. It means the women’s income-generating support group account in Kenya has reserves, which are in place for crises like this one. We had planned on transferring cash to each woman next month to be used for investment, but it can now be used now to keep them afloat financially. Hopefully, some will be able to invest part of it and generate more income. We will also use these funds to continue to pay for their National Health Insurance. However, just because we are able to meet needs this year does not mean we will be able to next year.
Finally, I am deeply thankful to each of you for your support and for our superb team in Kenya. We are all frightened during this unprecedented pandemic, but please know that we are doing everything possible to keep everyone safe and healthy. I welcome any questions and/or concerns you have.
Please use my personal email ([email protected]) to be in touch.
Mary Ann McCammon
Founder & President