How to sum up 2020?
Despite a global pandemic, our partners in Kibera have made some significant achievements this year. Arguably, BECAUSE of the pandemic, they've done more than any of us might have imagined at the start of the year; reaching people with aid and support that even they wouldn't have thought possible.
Make no mistake, Covid has hit Kenya and specifically the Kibera slum hard. Not in terms of infections (the virus appears to have been relatively mild in comparison to many other countries) but in its impact on the fragile local economy, which has led to hunger and increased deaths through suicide. With financial support from the UK, our partners have been able to deliver regular feeding programmes to the most vulnerable in their community. In business terms too, our small loans programme for local businesses (micro-enterprise development) has continued to operate despite a suspension of loan repayments through the hight of the economic crisis. There are currently 14 active loans helping increase self-sufficiency.
When the UK team visited in January/February 2020 the micro-enterprise committee asked for funding for a capital project to build much needed public washrooms facilities (showers and toilets) in the slum, to be run as a community enterprise. Despite imposed limitations as a result of Covid, and thanks to financial contributions from the UK, our partners were able to identify, purchase and physically secure a suitable piece of land on which to build the washrooms. Work is now underway to design, cost and fund the building phase of this exciting project.
Because the UK team has not been able to visit since February our regular football academy and healthcare training has not been possible. Here too though, our local partners have been able to develop a drug use rehabilitation programme with support from the UK and are now running twelve steps programmes for a number of groups and are now employing two trainers/facilitators. As a practical part of this programme, participants are serving their community by clearing refuse from around the slum twice a week.
This has been a difficult year for so many, but I am amazed at how much has been achieved, largely because of the compassion, determination, commitment, energy and skill of our partners in Kibera at a time of such personal uncertainty. They are an inspiration!