When the government announced the first case of Coronavirus in the country, we all went into panic and anxiety. Everything started to shut down slowly. The government directive and measures forced us to close all our programs because in most of our peace program we would bring more than twenty participants to a training. As an organization we had less experience on strategies to cope with the crisis. Through consultative meetings with other stakeholders and our partners through zoom and Skype calls, we started our intervention.
We started educating and encouraging communities around us to adhere to Government measures of washing hands with water and soap/using sanitizers, keeping social distance, wearing masks and staying at home. It was not easy to learn this new normal. Everyday we had new infections, new deaths from the COVID19 virus and other related illness. All these measures came with a price tag on them. Most of the communities in Mt. Elgon could not access clean, sufficient water let alone afford soap. The cost of masks was equivalent to a meal that would feed a household. Staying at home for low income earners who live below the poverty line would mean that they may not only die from Covid19, but from hunger due to lack of food.
AGLI coordinator David Bucura, in a consultative Skype meeting with country coordinators of partner organizations in Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi, agreed in the meeting that there was a need for food support that included dry cereals of maize, beans, rice, green grams, and cooking maize flour. In addition, we included cooking oil and soap to the most vulnerable members of the community, which included households of people living with disability, elderly and those who cannot afford to purchase these items. The coordinator shared the information with the African Great Lakes Initiative (AGLI) working group and funding was released to buy food. Initially, we had identified 25 household of about eight family members that would give us around 200 beneficiaries, both Quakers and non-Quakers alike. We managed to reach 300 families in 36 households. On the 4th of July we had reached hundreds of vulnerable groups such as unemployed youth, the elderly, women and children from low-income households, and people living with disability, who were at higher risk of food scarcity and malnutrition.