Kenya has joined the list with many other countries worldwide who have reported cases of COVID 19. After the government announced the first case, the president declared that all schools should close and introduced other sweeping measures in order to protect against or at least slow the spread of the virus.
We appreciate the government initiative to allocate additional funding for social protection to vulnerable groups that include orphans, elderly and persons with disability. While the list of poor and vulnerable groups of people cannot be exhaustive, we urge the government to involve other stakeholders working at the grassroots level in determining the most vulnerable people. At St. Martin CSA we work with people afflicted by mental illnesses, people recovering from drugs, alcohol and substance abuse, street families, vulnerable children and survivors of violence. Even among these groups of people, the level of vulnerability vary widely and therefore a clear targeting criteria is important to reach out to the poorest of the poor; those who are wounded and broken to raise their voice to a level of getting the attention of service providers.
The outbreak of this disease will have a greater impact on the poor and the marginalized groups of people. We particularly remember the majority of our beneficiaries who live hand to mouth or are peasant farmers. In these days they have to make very challenging decisions; either they remain at home and be safe from the virus and consequently have no food for their families in the evening or they go out to secure a meal for their families and risk contracting COVID 19.
As an organization, pushed by the COVID-19 outbreak and motivated by the desire to keep close to our beneficiaries, we have taken the following measures;
- Sealing off our rescue and rehabilitation centres for children
- Sensitizing the children in our centres about the COVID-19 outbreak
- Constituting an emergency response team that regularly monitors the situation and advises the organization accordingly
- Serving our beneficiaries in outdoor spaces
- Scaling down our activities by cancelling group activities, trainings, meetings, group prayer sessions and any other large gathering
- Responding to the needs of the beneficiaries as where they are without compromising the safety of the staff
- Decongesting our offices by ensuring that our staff work from home leaving only a few to attend to the beneficiaries
- Providing handwashing and sanitizing services and ensuring that all who enter St Martin comply
- Sensitizing the staff on the safety precautions and measures against COVID-19
We remain close to those who are suffering from this pandemic. We remember our donors, supporters, collaborators and friends spread throughout the world. We pray that we don’t lose faith amidst this crisis.