–by Britt Odemba
The Covid-19 virus has affected many children throughout the world. Their once simple daily routine has now been uprooted and the children and their families have had to create a new “normal” within their homesteads. This also pertains to the children in our Project 24 program. The idea that the children would complete their first term of school at the beginning of April and go on break quickly changed when President Kenyatta called for all schools to close mid-March.
It was mandated that children who were in any kind of boarding facility, including our Project 24 sites, go home until further notice. So, the site managers had to quickly act and secure transport for all of the children to ensure that all of them could go home. Under their care and guidance, this endeavor was successful and all of the Project 24 children returned home safely.
Now, as the days continue where social distancing and a night time curfew have been put into place here in Kenya, the families have had to adjust. They also were not expecting the children to arrive 3 weeks early. So… they have had to create a new normal. All household chores, selling farmed goods, as well as any other errands need to take place during the day. Big farmers’ markets have had to disband and sellers must figure out a new way to sell, whether it be at their homes or door to door within their villages. It is not easy, however the Kenyan people are resilient and this is a time for the community and church to come together.
Our local partner church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya, has been working alongside the P24 site managers to ensure that the children and their families are doing well. Each site manager has personally visited the children in their homes and have heard their stories. During these visits, they have seen the children playing with their siblings, sitting with their elders as well as helping with various tasks. The students play a big role in helping with their families’ household and sometimes the tasks can seem overwhelming, especially in this time of crisis.
The site managers have taken note of this and it was decided that this month, the LCMS and ELCK would use the regular monthly funds to purchase a food package for each family. During this time of uncertainty, having food for the next several weeks can relieve some of the daily burden and ensure that the family stays healthy.
One other thing the site managers are teaching the families is how to make a “no touch” washing station, also known as a “tippy tap”. This is an easy way to take a few things that a typical Kenyan has in their homes to create a water feature that can be used to wash hands. We have already witnessed a few P24 children create their own outside their homes.
It is through these little efforts that we are helping the P24 children during this time. We continue to pray for their safety as well as for their families. We thank God that we can work with our partner church and come together to continue to share the love of God and show His mercy to those around us.
Britt Odemba serves as an educational consultant through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Kenya and she also assists the local Project 24 director and oversees the child sponsorship program called Christ’s Care for Children: Kenya.