May 2020

COVID in Kenya

BLOG / COVID in Kenya

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Jeremiah Kuria // Executive Director, Ubuntu Life Foundation 

In the words of Mutahi Kagwe, our Health Cabinet Secretary when warning Kenyans to be cautious about COVID-19, "If we continue to behave normally, this disease will treat us abnormally.”

Things have been different in Kenya as it has in the rest of the world since March 13th. Social distancing is far from what Kenyans know - we stay close together, we have firm handshakes and we hug every time we meet. That is how we show love and appreciation for each other.

During hard times in the community we visit each other, pray and encourage one another. And now here comes a pandemic, the novel Coronavirus, a pandemic that separates us, attacking every aspect of our culture. We can't go to church, we can't go to funerals, we can't host family gatherings, it feels as though we can't do anything! It has been hard, frustrating and depressing for many

We have had to redefine how we do things here. Closing church tops the list of all frustrations, many felt that it was lack of faith. Others wondered why God would not help in such a situation and even President Magufuli of Tanzania said that the virus is satanic and therefore cannot thrive in churches. A very controversial statement that lacked consideration of every insight brought forth to bring down the contracting of the virus. But as an African who knows that Africans are notoriously religious I can understand his efforts to cling to what he knows. But yet we have to keep the social distance if we are going to win this battle, things have changed and we cannot continue to do things normally. It has been a couple of months now and the awkwardness of not greeting each other and wearing face masks all the time is diminishing.

 Breaking an old habit is difficult. It has been hard to keep people from gathering or staying close to each other as the culture dictates. The first thing that the government did was to impose a curfew from 7pm to 5am. This was to reduce the hours that people congregate together and have too much fun that makes them forget to keep the social distance.  

It was very hard at the beginning while the Kenyan leaders were explaining to everybody what needs to change and how things will be done differently. There was a huge clash between the people and the police trying to enforce the directives. There were quite a few confrontations and our police being too physically brutal to those that were out late or those who were not wearing masks. But people are learning and working to obey these new restrictions, and now many understand that wearing a mask is loving and taking care of those you love. That's the new normal.   

Movement has been banned especially from and to our main city, Nairobi. So, everyone who was depending on public transport business is without a job. Everyone who was depending on merchandise from Nairobi has no business. Things that people can do to stay afloat are so limited. Life has been hard.

As the cases continue to go up the effects of the economic closure continues to be a huge challenge to many. The majority of Kenyans who live from hand to mouth are having tons of problems. These are people who depend on manual labor to support their families. If they don't get a daily job, they will have no food at all and this has been the story for many families in the country.

In our area many people depend on construction work and flower farms, just to mention a few things that keep the families supplied with their daily needs. But all that has been shut down for now. Meaning lots of families are depending on well wishers and any donation that they can get to feed their families. It has been hard to watch children suffer hunger from all these challenges but we have hope that this will come to an end soon.

There are some efforts from the government to intervene in the situation. They are testing close to 3,000 people a day for now and the number tested to date is close to 62,000 as I write. On top of closing boundaries and reinforcing the curfew, the government is also supplying food supplements to the few that they can manage, but as always many still can't get the much needed help. Hunger and other challenges continue to bite hard.

Ubuntu Life and Ubuntu Life Foundation are staying on top of things to protect our team by following the guidelines given. We had to do everything to protect the much needed jobs and provide the much needed support. We started by providing hand washing stations in every corner of our land to make sure we are reinforcing clean hands and wearing masks. We also supply our staff with sanitizers by the door as they come in and as they walk out. We have someone designated just to clean the surfaces and all the surface areas that we touch all the time like door knobs and guard rails. We also get the temperature checks for everyone at least twice a day. This has been going well and has helped to sensitize our team that extra care is crucial. We are doing all this in addition to training by local doctors and health checks to determine any preexisting conditions in our team members.  

We also turned our cafe into a grocery shop after all the restaurants closed. This helps all our staff and family from going to crowded places. They get all they need for their families from one stop. Lately we have also welcomed our neighbors to buy from the shop as well. Just making sure we stay true to serving our community as we help them protect themselves.

More about our Cafe to grocery transformation - Here 

Movement has been banned especially from and to our main city, Nairobi. So, everyone who was depending on public transport business is without a job. Everyone who was depending on merchandise from Nairobi has no business. Things that people can do to stay afloat are so limited. Life has been hard.

  We are serving our children with special needs with their basic needs even as they stay at home. We provide food and other basic necessities that keep them comfortable. We are also providing clean drinking water to families as needed. We are thankful that we could be able to make a difference in the lives of the community as we can manage. More about what we are doing to serve our Ubuntu kids - Here  

These are different times and we are learning to do all that it takes to make a difference.

A big thank you to all of our Tribe Members who continue to check how we are doing and offering support to keep our mission going on. This is the time to stay united for the good of humanity. We say asante sana and let's keep up the Ubuntu spirit that has been our source of encouragement at these times!  Big LOVE



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