Written by Francis Njoroge, Programs Officer

In January, 2020 was proving to be another busy year for Dignitas and the communities we serve.  Dignitas hit the ground running with planned programming and new partnerships. Covid-19 seemed like any other story on the news and the majority of Kenyans did not believe it would affect them. When the first case in Kenya was announced in March, none of us was prepared to handle the reality that came with it. Majority of communities that we serve were heavily affected by the pandemic and the situation was made worse by the lockdowns and curfews that followed and significantly restricted work and movement.  Its impact on the socio-economic activities in the country exposed the already vulnerable and marginalized communities to more suffering.

After deliberations and adjusting to the new normal, Dignitas team resolved to support families to meet some of their basic needs by coming up with a feeding program. We realised it was an important part of our vision to keep children safe and learning. Initially, we worked with our school partners to identify the 80 most vulnerable households who would benefit from the first phase of the feeding program. We focused on single parent families, child led households, and grandparent led households.  Our survey showed that up to 79% of families had lost their main source of income due to the pandemic.

“I lost my cooking job in a school where I have been working for years. I am a single mother of five and I also have a brother who is epileptic”

Shamim (Guardian)

While we were working to support this first cohort of households, it was becoming increasingly clear that more and more families needed our help. Our partners Tailored for Education came on board and together we identified 182 more families that would benefit from monthly food care packages. This brought the total number of households to benefit to 262. The households would benefit from a monthly food package for three months and an additional small cash transfer to help with the purchase of fresh produce, medication and other households needs.

“I used the money received to settle my rent arrears and buy medicine for my son who is unwell. I am deeply grateful to receive this support from Dignitas and their partners Tailored for Education.”
Joan (Guardian)

Some of the beneficiaries used this as an economic stimulus opportunity to creatively start small businesses or to restock their already affected businesses and be very proactive in investing in their families.  Dignitas believes in the power of empowering
community members to come up with solutions to their own challenges.

We also used this opportunity to distribute learning materials including books, pens, pencils, crayons, and other necessary stationeries to help children keep learning on track at home.  Nearly 650 children received these items and parents reported that it was a big motivation for the learners to shift their mind back to books. In addition, girls received sanitary towels enough to last them for 4-5 months.

“ It was becoming difficult for my children to concentrate and create time to study, when we received the first package of food and they received the supply of learning materials, things changed and they were now reading on their own”.

Everlyne (Guardian)

Dignitas also supported 61 school leaders that were actively engaged in our Leaders of Learning program with small food packs. Teachers from the community schools were unpaid from when schools were closed indefinitely making it difficult for them to meet their basic needs. During this season, different partners, and friends of Dignitas came onboard to provide food packages for 70 more families from Dandora and Kayole communities. Our incredible team worked tirelessly every day to support families under the feeding program. It is this collaboration and good will that helped us clock this exciting milestone.

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love”
Mother Teresa