August 11 Update on Phase 1 of COVID-19
Response Efforts in West Pokot, Kenya
As scary as the Covid-19 pandemic is, it presents us with an opportunity to practice active hope and express this through service that Jesus Christ has called us to. We focused on sewing and distributing masks that meet the virus prevention standards. Our target was to produce 20,000 masks for distribution in West Pokot. However, we only managed to make 9,116 masks in April and May. We have distributed about 6,000 masks in the community and are still doing so with the remaining masks. This mass production was such a tremendous task for us to undertake and was made possible by the collaboration of 23 seamstresses that we hired for this production process. Eight of these women were girls that graduated from our Girls Empowerment Program, and two are current students in this program and are expected to graduate next year.
Out of the 9,116 face masks that we produced, we donated 390 to the street children in Makutano town which faces a greater probability of catching this virus due to their living situation. They cannot afford to buy these masks on their own. During this donation activity we were able to educate the street children about the Covid-19 virus, how it spreads and how they can protect themselves and the people around them. We also collaborated with two local businesses to donate food to the street children.
We donated another 765 face masks to 109 families that were displaced from their homes during the 2019 landslide in West Pokot County. We also donated 100 face masks to prisoners in Kapenguria prison, 20 to Kapenguria police and 30 to the construction workers that were helping with construction work at Jitokeze Center (as well as other groups).
Apart from donating masks, we sold 400 of them at a subsidized price to our beneficiaries in the farmer’s empowerment program in Lomut and Masol wards while 4,015 were sold locally. Currently we have 3,232 face masks in storage awaiting distribution.
As is the case around the world, the livelihoods of a lot of people here in West Pokot have faced a direct hit for the worse. We are glad that through this mask production project we were able to employ the 23 Seamstresses to make these masks. Many were already struggling to raise an income before the pandemic. This project helped them to raise some income to sustain them and their families. This experience has taught us to find creative ways to support the girls in our program to earn income even while they undertake their training with us.
June 1 Update from Jitokeze Wamama Wafrika
Executive Director, Philipine Kidulah writes: "We have only done 2 education sessions about CoronaVirus, one was to our girls in Mid march before we released them to go home. The second one was in April to Street children when we donated masks and food to them.
We have not yet given that sensitization to the Self Help Groups that we serve because we wanted to complete making masks first and then do the sensitization as we go to distribute the masks to them. Last week we donated some masks and water tanks to the families displaced by the landslides last year. That activity was so rushed because of the rains that we ended up cancelling the talk about the virus, so we will be reaching out to them again once we embark on the SHGs trainings after next week.
Please keep our community in your thoughts and prayer because women and children are facing an especially tough situation, this social distancing rule has led to such a serious escalation in the rates of rape and physical violence on girls and women in general. Tomorrow I will be attending a meeting with other stakeholders to look into ways that we can work together to raise the alert on this situation and report cases to the police. I see us incorporating this into our sensitization campaign on coronavirus. Thank you and God Bless, Philipine C Kidulah