We are continuing to grow and could not be more excited! We are trusting the transition! Even though COVID-19 disrupted the world, leaving our community with closed schools, closed or reduced programming, and closed businesses, we still found a way to engage our participants at a distance. Each of those closures mentioned created further harm for the people in Kibera. School children relied on their daily lunch meal at school and the schools are now closed. The parents and guardians had no work with businesses and daily jobs closed down which had a direct impact on their ability to care for their families (food and ensuring shelter). Taking it even further, there were county lock downs and only transport trucks of supplies could move and that even became a challenge causing shortages on some things for a time period.
Since March, you have been part of food distributions throughout Kibera and with your support, we turned our Maridadi Skills class into a focus of making masks for the community within hours of the CDC and KE Ministry of Health communicating the need to wear a mask. We also co-created the Pamoja Circle where 22 organizations, community leaders, and local market vendors came together and discussed issues and questions that COVID created. We all worked together to share ideas and devise plans that would allow us all to keep serving the community safely in what became an even deeper time of need.
With some restrictions easing and allowances for some things, we were able to provide small groups of six girls at a time for school tutoring. Masks are required with sanitizing before entering and before leaving and keeping 2 meters distance (6 feet) at all times. The classroom is bleached down after the group (every chair, door knob and surface!) with time to sit before the next group of six girls is allowed to enter. They each have their book set on loan from our High School partners and must have their own writing utensil to avoid sharing out of the box. This is only made possible because of our Shining Brighter and other College/University student volunteers who are also out of class, doing the tutoring (thank you so very much ladies!)
Despite COVID-19 wreaking havoc in the world and on our community, we still grew. With the need to engage girls in the community being more important than ever now with schools closed and the dangers to them lurking, we became concerned with the need of additional spacing. It has been on our hearts since before the pandemic, but given the pandemic and circumstances it created, we were going to come back to it later in the year. That is.... until more space became available within the compound where we already are. Another unit with two classrooms, a full private kitchen and full private western style bathroom opened up and we had first dibs .... so..... larger space found us unexpectedly where we already were! Meant to be, especially since we have all been eyeing that whole side of the compound since we opened our current space anyway. We feel good to celebrate it especially since the previous occupant's shifting was not related to the havoc of COVID-19. It just all worked out for everyone at the same time.
Right time? It was unexpected, sure, but we are trusting the transition and the timing. We are growing with programming and participants and definitely needed the additional space. COVID-19 will stop wreaking havoc at some point and the world will work to return better than it was before. So, we now have the greater space be part of that and we are incredibly excited!
(College Volunteer, Jane, is organizing one of the new classrooms with Coordinator Michelle in the photo above)