Faith Kuria, HR Director
Nothing fulfills an employer more than offering a safe and conducive work environment. From this, you get the results which drive to the bigger vision and mission of every employer. Ubuntu Life, like any other organization, first hoped that this interruption was just a short passing wind. We all thought so. When the situation started escalating, we knew we had to think of a lasting strategy for such an external risk.
Ubuntu Life has been in the forefront to ensure the safety of both the organization and employees because the two can’t survive without each other. We have put in place hand washing and sanitizing stations at every entrance of the working area and outside the work stations. We have also formulated workplace policies in reference to Covid-19 which employees are made aware of repeatedly. Safety gears like masks, just to mention, are being outfitted and strict measures have been put in place to those who violate the rules.
We have also been conducting health education with medical practitioners and medical check-ups too. Every staff temperature is being taken 3 times a day, i.e before entering to your work station, at 11am and at 3pm and documented by the point person. We are grateful that we have created 35 new employment opportunities so far just on the Ubuntu land. We have put in place health education of every new staff as part of orientation before starting the job. This has enlightened our team so much and they are passing this education to their children when they get home.
Grace Nyambura, Maker Mum
I am very grateful to be part of the Ubuntu family, especially during this difficult times of Coronavirus. At first we were very worried that my job would end and we as mums don't have anything that we can do now since businesses are down - it’s currently very hard to find a job and we have loans and children in school.
Ubuntu has really taken care of all the staff - in providing transport for instance. We normally pay a motorbike to get to work every day and sometimes use the public vehicles (which were not complying with the distancing rules) - that was very worrying but we didn’t see a way to avoid it. When Ubuntu started providing transportation, we were extremely excited that we would be safe and that the cost we were incurring for transport can now be used for food, since the food prices increased and personal budget hiked since children are home all day.
I’m thankful also to Ubuntu for bringing the credit shop (grocery I believe many call it) closer to us. We are able to purchase all the supplies we need from the Ubuntu shop and pay at the end of the month, which has saved us big time. We no longer interact with people at the marketplace and this means our safety and our families’ safety is protected.
All of this and you can’t forget the additional measures that have been put in place all across the Ubuntu workplace - hand washing stations with disinfectant water and soap, masks given to each staff member, distance created at working areas, training on control measures and precautions, and medical check-ups by medical practitioners - the care given to us has left us speechless.
We are very grateful to the leadership of Ubuntu for their effort to ensure we are safe at work.
May God Bless Ubuntu and everyone that supports the vision of Ubuntu Founders.
Jeremiah Kuria, Co-Founder of Ubuntu Life
We are working at Ubuntu under the new normal conditions and I just have to say, I just love our Ubuntu team, I really do! Part of our culture is to hustle hard and to have FUN while we work, and we do this very well. Over the years we have learned how to work together and to give our best in every available opportunity. We have shown our gratitude and joy as a sign of embracing Ubuntu. I know many have experienced this during their visits to Kenya - great welcomes with song and dance to every visiting Tribe member and Ubuntu supporter.
All this cannot happen now, we have to keep social distancing and still have to get the job done. A lot has been going on in my mind and I know in the minds of our team members. How do we continue to work and show appreciation when working together and we are being told that showing love is staying far and avoiding contact. We have worked hard to avoid all the risks known and unknown to ensure that our team is safe.
We have been very intentional in making sure that we take care of our team as they work. Among the vital areas of concern is their mental health and giving them the psychosocial support that is very needed at the moment. There is so much information being given to avoid the health risks and we are aware that it can be overwhelming. We allow our team to have the familiar way of caring for their mental health - the team prays and sings together after work and enjoys the beautiful grounds on our land - many say they are able to reduce their stress of the pandemic in this way.
We have been very intentional in making the new rituals normalized to avoid stress. There is so much washing of hands and sanitizing that it could drive us crazy, but we have to do it. We have hand washing stations in every strategic location to make sure there is no excuse at all. We have someone designated to check body temperatures on every employee 2-3 times a day. The working tables and door knobs are cleaned on 2 hour intervals just for precaution.
We have also partnered with local health care providers to come teach our staff on how to thoroughly wash our hands and how to make sure we stay sensitive to protecting ourselves. The teachings are done for half an hour on Fridays to make sure our team is taking care even on weekends when at home with family members. We also helped everyone to check their health status to make sure everyone was aware if they had blood pressure, blood sugars or any other thing that could be concerning. Everyone was happy to participate in the exercise and wanted it done for the whole family.
Getting to and from work was another major area of concern and the only way was through jam-packed Matatus or public transport van. We had to take a quick action of renting a bus to transport our staff. They walk to a pickup point and will be driven to work together, honoring social distance on the bus itself.
We have reduced the need to go to crowded places for our staff by bringing a grocery store right next to the factory. When we had to close our beloved Cafe from serving meals to tourists we quickly turned it to a grocery store. It has been very convenient and also a great way to keep our cafe workers on the job.
It has been a great team effort to pivot our services to serve the most vulnerable in our team. Our children in the special needs program were going to be badly affected without proper care and nutrition given to them. We started serving their parents with foods twice a month to cater for all their needs. We have also been giving one-on-one services to our children who cannot be without the needed therapy. Our teachers have been teaching the children one-on-one and preparing homework. I have always loved their energy and enthusiasm as they deal with the situation.
Providing the much needed opportunities to the mothers of the children with special needs have been the highlight of this time. The majority of them lost their manual jobs that they do to make ends meet. They needed something to do to cater for the needs of their families. Thanks to the rains we have been having, we have enough work to do on the land to hire them in order to keep food on the table and provide some security for the family. What a wonderful opportunity to be able to provide help at a time when things are so hard and stressful!
It's not the normal way of working but we have been learning as we go. Even though it's stressful we still are able to have a little fun & get the job done.
Stay safe and live Ubuntu.