As a rule, we like to share positive stories and the beauty and success of the children we support. But we also know it’s essential we share with our community the challenges, situations and risks our partners and children face.
Recently our Kenyan program partner Alfajiri sent us a report about how COVID-19 is affecting their program, their children and their community.
We believe it is important to help our partner’s voices be heard, so we have decided to share the report with our community here. The report has been edited to omit some distressing recounts of violence, however, these are the very powerful words of the Alfajiri program manager.
“In Nairobi Kenya not only is there a lack of protection for street children in the face of COVID-19, there is aggression against them which is intensified as police and others use the coronavirus restrictions as an excuse to starve, beat and kill.
Due to the pandemic now taking hold in Kenya, the most urgent need in the slums of Nairobi is for food and clean water.
Mathare slum where Alfajiri organization works with child rescue and support is one of the biggest and most densely populated slums in Africa.
Desperation deepens as many feeding programs and organizations are closing their doors. Children sent home from school…are flooding the streets and slum areas, as poor parents struggle to cope or just let their children go.
Large packs of children are roaming in the slum unaware of the precautions recommended. They share food and even clothes. They are eating out of garbage dumps and rubbish bins and drinking out of puddles. They do not have toilets and have nowhere to bathe or to sleep. There are also many mothers of small children looking for help for their families.
We are giving cooked food in the slum where they live, and telling them about washing their hands and staying apart even though in the streets this is not really possible. Once COVID-19 gets into the slum there is no telling the devastation that will begin.
We have at least 50 boys and girls whom we have rescued in the last several years and sponsor in schools. There are also several boys we have managed to send to the rural areas at the beginning of the pandemic. Jobs are scarce. Precautions are difficult for slum dwellers. How can families who live hand to mouth store food or self-isolate?
Our sponsored children are so far safe, out of Nairobi or with their families. We have relocated one family to the country. Another Mama is sewing face masks to try and earn something to pay her rent. In some cases, we assist with rent.
When the pandemic is over we want to send our children back to schools and training. For now, they are at great risk and we don’t want to lose them.”
If like us, you are moved by these words and would like to help, you can support our COVID-19 Emergency Child Safety Appeal by donating here.
A little bit goes a long way, and we are incredibly grateful for the ongoing support of our community. Without you we would not have the flexibility and capacity to respond and support our partners to adapt to these changing and challenging times. Thank you.
To learn more about Alfajiri’s response to the current crisis and how BTO are helping read the Kenyan Country Update here.
You can also find out how our partners are responding in Nepal in the Nepal Country Update here.
Donate to the COVID-19 Emergency Child Safety Appeal
April 23, 2020