–by John Kissinger Nyang’au
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya, North West diocese (ELCK-NWD), has her head office in Kapenguria, West Pokot County which serves Trans Nzoia, Marakwet, Baringo, West, and East Pokot, Turkana and Uganda with more than 50 Parishes. The diocese is fully committed to serving their people during this uncertain time of the Covid-19 pandemic. Some of their core values in their service are teamwork, leadership, effective people management, efficiency, financial management skills, and communication skills. This has facilitated the accomplishment of their set goals through the set activities.
During my visit to evaluate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic since March 2020, six months down the line I found the following as the outcome which has impacted our P24 boarding facility sites: Udom site manager Peris and her NWD team have rescued four girls from forced and harmful cultural practices of Female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriages and currently, they rescued girls who are staying with one of the ELCK pastors. This pastor has offered refuge for these girls. Three girls and two boys represented the other many children from Udom and Kabichbich during the flagging off and praying for the food distribution exercise launched by NWD leadership.
Four of these five children were represented by their extended relatives and one of them was not represented at all since he was staying alone without anyone caring for him. One girl was accompanied by a youthful girl. When I asked, I was told that this was a child-headed family. The health of these children had deteriorated, and these could be observed through their physical expressions. Coronavirus has come with many challenges. Boys are being engaged in cattle rustling, substance abuse, and child labor among others. Girls have experienced FGM, sexual abuse, forced marriages, earlier pregnancies among other cultural practices. Most girls and women who never went through FGM suffered most this year after the Pokot elders forced them to undergo the cut, claiming that the landslides and other misfortunes experienced in the region were as a result of annoying their ancestral gods by not practicing their cultural practices.
The ELCK is struggling to rescue these children and women by creating awareness for the entire population. Due to the geography of the region and heavy rains, some roads are impassable, and some have been cut off completely making it difficult to reach some of the children who are in entire need of help. NWD leadership make sure these children are reached by the use of cash transfers using the church pastors or deaconess from those affected regions.
The other success stories are the creation and multiplication of available resources as income-generating activities for the P24 boarding facility sustainability program. When children were allowed to join their extended families to avoid the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, P24 staff from Udom joined hands in income-generating activities in preparation for the coming of children during the reopening of schools in January 2021. With rented land, they are expecting to harvest more than 30 bags of maize to feed children. They helped to build four rental rooms made of brick and mortar, a vegetable garden, poultry keeping, and cows rearing. Many thanks to P24 caregivers. I attended the North West Diocese leadership gathering along with 20 plus leaders, to evaluate the state of things with Project 24. The outcome of the evaluation was fantastic. Thank you for your service to these little ones as you serve the Lord.
John Kissinger Nyang’au serves at the director for Project 24