Covid-19

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A Challenging Time

A Challenging Time

Last month, in the midst of a worldwide pandemic and a global cry for justice, students sponsored by Everyone’s Child were also facing a challenging time. After schools closed in mid-March, they waited anxiously for almost four months to find out when they could safely return. Last week they learned that the government won’t be opening schools until September. The number of coronavirus cases in Kenya has grown from just seven in mid-March to just under 5,000 at the end of June 2020. Students and their families are now being told that the decision to re-open schools is tentative and will be based on the countrywide status of COVID-19.

3 young adult boys from Bishop Donovan Secondary School in red sweaters
EC sponsored students from Bishop Donovan Secondary School

School Breaks

School schedules in Kenya are based on an agrarian calendar, with month-long breaks occurring every three months to allow for the tilling, planting and harvesting of crops. But due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the expected month-long break in April turned into three months, and by the time schools re-open it will have been almost half a year since students will have been in a classroom with each other. The Kenyan government has organized lessons on television and via the internet, but in a country where 73% of the population live in rural settings, access to television or internet is not always possible.

A Challenging Time - photo of a typical Kenyan wattle and daub home
A typical wattle and daub home in rural Kenya

Facing Challenges

The other challenge these students face is that of having enough food to survive during a time when many markets have closed and breadwinners are out of work. All students are guaranteed at least one meal a day while they are in school, but with school closures, that daily meal is no longer available. Also, in recent months the country has seen its worst locust infestation in 70 years. To make matters worse, lockdown restrictions have prevented farmers from protecting their crops from these voracious eaters. Gone unchecked, the locusts will cause catastrophic food shortages throughout the region for months to come.

A Different Kind of Injustice

Life often isn’t fair to the orphans we serve. These children suffer from a different kind of injustice – also resulting from prejudice and ignorance. Rather than being judged for the color of their skin, theirs is the injustice of suddenly being placed at the bottom of a totem pole because one or both of their parents died from HIV/AIDS. This stigmatizes and marginalizes them, and often causes them to become outcasts within their own family. Pity is replaced by silent suspicion, reminding them that the disease that took their parents could also infect them and those who have taken them in.

Losing one's parents can present a challenging time for this lonely looking child by a post
Losing a parent to HIV/AIDS causes great grief and confusion

Providing Food

Not long after schools closed in March, knowing that we were in a challenging time, EC’s Board of Directors decided to direct funds toward providing EC sponsored students with enough food to survive during this pandemic. As a result, during April and May, EC staff and volunteers held two food distributions for over 600 orphaned and vulnerable children in Kenya. To a certain extent, this effort seemed like a drop in the bucket. But to each child who received a bag of food, it meant so much more. It meant that they would eat without having to worry about where the next meal would come from. And perhaps even more importantly, it meant that they would be able to contribute to the family that had taken them in after losing their parents.

COVID-19 has caused a challenging time for this young boy holding a can of dried beans
An orphan receiving food during the coronavirus lockdown

They Belong to All of Us

Kinship is what happens when we remember that we all belong to each other. Everyone’s Child stands by the precept that the children we serve belong to all of us. These children are the adults of tomorrow. If we can value and treat them with care and concern, then the hope is that they will do the same for those who come after them.

To that end, we have reached out to the students at each of the six schools where we currently offer support to make sure they and their households have food during the outbreak that has rocked our world. Contributors have generously supported the decision of our Board, making it possible for hundreds of children and their families to have food during this time.

two young girls holding bags of food they received during the coronavirus lockdown
Two young orphans in Kiti holding bags of food

Justice for the Orphan

The prophet Isaiah tells us to “seek justice, encourage the oppressed and defend the cause of the fatherless” (Isaiah 1:17). Justice may seem to be somewhat elusive these days, and the coronavirus doesn’t seem to be going away. But if in some small way we can reach a few of those who are being negatively affected by current circumstances, then we are all better off for having done so.

Our plan is to continue distributing food while schools in Kenya are closed. If you would like to join us in our efforts to help EC sponsored students get through this pandemic, please consider a gift to Everyone’s Child. Your donation will feed, educate and connect these children, and will give them a chance to discover what is important in life. Please click here to make a secure donation to Everyone’s Child.

As always, asante sana – great thanks for reminding these children that they do belong to all of us.

Blessings,

Ruth

An Encouraging Message

An Encouraging Message

Early yesterday morning I opened my email to find an encouraging message from James Maina, the Head Teacher (Principal) at Bishop Donovan Secondary School in Lanet Umoja, outside of Nakuru, Kenya. Today I want to share that message with our readers.

The Current Climate

The current climate in Kenya is similar to that of other developing nations. The government has responded to the coronavirus in much the same way that governments have all around the world. Schools were closed in mid-March, and non-essential businesses were shuttered not long afterward. People are told to adhere to the rules of the lockdown or risk receiving a beating from local police forces. Street vendors who rely on customers purchasing fruits and vegetables have been forcibly made to stop selling produce. Open markets have also been closed, leaving millions without access to food for themselves and their families. In a country of over 50 million people, there have been 216 cases of COVID-19, with 9 deaths and 41 recoveries to date.

Bags of Food

Everyone’s Child has been doing all we can to provide food to orphaned and vulnerable children in Kenya during this global pandemic. The response from our donors has been tremendous. Over the past several weeks people have sent donations and prayers for those who are struggling to find food as a result of all the shutdowns. Last week we learned that the administrators in each of the five schools where we support students had made plans to work with their local governments to distribute food to these children.

Orphaned students lining up to receive food at Bishop Donovan Secondary School
Orphaned students lining up to receive food at Bishop Donovan Secondary School

An Encouraging Message

As I stated above, I received an encouraging message in my inbox yesterday. Here is a snapshot of what it said:

“Greetings Sister Ruth. We are grateful to God that we have continued receiving his Grace and Mercy despite the havoc that has been caused by Covid-19 across the world.
We are delighted to report to you that today 13/04/2020 (Easter Monday) at 2.00 pm we have managed to distribute foodstuff to our orphans, courtesy of Everyone’s Child.

The students were very happy for the hand of Mercy and really blessed you and Everyone’s Child at large.”

Yours sincerely,
James Maina Ng’ang’a

Head Teacher Sebastian Maina pouring maize into a child’s bag at Nakuru Teacher’s Primary School

The last sentence in Mr. Maina’s letter touch something deep inside of me. I’ve gotten to know many of these students over the years. Stories of their hardships have made an indelible mark on my conscience, reminding me to be grateful for what I have and to do whatever I can to alleviate their suffering. I am so thankful to see that our plans in this latest endeavor have proven effective!

Additional Schools

William Aludo, EC’s Kenyan Program Coordinator, has continued to send me photos this week. These newest ones are pictures of students at the Nakuru Teacher’s and Kitere Primary Schools receiving bags of food. Needless to say, seeing these makes my heart soar!

Nakuru Teacher’s Primary School student holding two bags full of food
Orphaned and vulnerable students from Kitere Primary School in Rongo receiving bags of food

Your Part

Everyone’s Child has been serving the needs of orphans and vulnerable children since 2010. We are able to do this primarily because of the tremendous support we receive from people like you who want to help. While education is our primary vision, we have always recognized the importance of good nutrition as a critical component for learning.

These students need our assistance, now more than ever. If you would like to contribute to our efforts, please click here to make a secure online donation. By doing your part, these children will continue to receive what they need to get them through this crisis.

Two students receiving food at Nakuru Teacher’s Primary School

As always, asante sana (deep thanks) for your encouragement and support. It means everything.

Blessings,

Ruth

The Situation in Kenya

The Situation in Kenya

The Situation in Kenya

This past week I learned about the situation in Kenya from William Aludo, EC’s Program Coordinator. He gave a sobering account of schools being closed, people being out of work, and markets being shut down. At this writing there have been 122 cases of COVID-19 in Kenya.

In Nakuru, William learned that while some people have vegetables in their gardens, many still rely on their local markets.  The situation is becoming dire for many families.

Kampi Ya Moto

Normally, schools in Kenya are closed during the months of April, August and December.  However, Everyone’s Child has always continued to feed students at the Lord Ranjuera Primary School in Kampi Ya Moto even when school isn’t in session as food insecurity is a major issue in that region.  

Last week William spoke with Mrs. Chesire, the Head Teacher (Principal) at that school to see if it would be possible to continue feeding the students there during this epidemic.  She told him that the government was not allowing anyone to return to the school, so feeding the children would not be possible.  This was bad news, since these children rely on meals they receive from EC during the months that schools are closed.

Children receiving bags of food in Kampi Ya Moto

A Blessing

But then, a few days ago William sent me photos of children in Kampi Ya Moto receiving bags of food! Mrs. Chesire and Sarah (the cook) had managed to hand out 81 bags of dried maize, beans, maize flour and porridge flour to students.  They plan to repeat this in two weeks as well. Needless to say, it was such a blessing to know that these children wouldn’t go hungry.

Whatever is Necessary

Everyone’s Child is in a position to help students in need during this pandemic. The situation in Kenya has propelled us to act quickly to alleviate suffering of the children in our care. This past week, the EC Board of Directors gave William the go ahead to connect with school administrators in each of the five schools where we currently feed close to 600 children. Our goal is to do whatever is necessary to provide food to students in need. These administrators will be working with their local governments to ensure that provisions will be distributed to these children and their families.

Children practicing social distancing in Kampi Ya Moto

Your Continued Support

We understand that the impact of the coronavirus will likely lead to a spike in the number of people needing help. As I stated above, EC’s goal is to do whatever is necessary to provide food to students in need. That is why I am reaching out to you today to ask for your continued financial and prayer support for our programs, and specifically for EC’s Orphan Feeding Program.

Change Brings Opportunity

So much has changed. But change also brings opportunity. We are looking for every way possible to continue helping the children enrolled in our programs, while keeping the door open for meeting an even greater need.

I want to thank those who have already reached out to see how they can help make a difference. If you are in a position to help financially, please click here to make a secure online donation. You can also send a check to Everyone’s Child, P.O. Box 522, Linesville, PA 16424.

An Added Bonus

For those who can give financially, there is an added bonus to consider. On Friday, March 27th, the US Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. A provision of that bill makes it possible for American taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions when filing with the IRS, to deduct from their AGI up to $300 in cash contributions to qualifying organizations. For those who do itemize, they will be able to deduct 100% of their donations in this tax year.

As always, asante sana (deep thanks),

Ruth

Report from Kenya

Report from Kenya

Dear friends and trusted supporters,

For the past several weeks, I have been following the news in order to provide our supporters with a report from Kenya. At this writing there have been seven cases of the virus discovered in their country. So far none of these cases have been reported in rural areas. As the link above points out, when and if this occurs, the results could be devastating for millions of people in Kenya.

I have been in touch with William Aludo, EC’s Kenyan Program Coordinator, who has confirmed that all schools and universities have closed and all students have been sent home. While this may be good news in terms slowing the spread of the coronavirus, it also presents a challenge for the students who rely on a daily meal through EC’s Orphan Feeding Program.

Everyone’s Child is currently working with our Kenyan colleagues to develop a plan to safely distribute food to children who will be negatively affected by the nationwide school shutdown. I will do my best to update you on their efforts as they unfold. Our goal is to ensure that the most vulnerable children will receive some form of nutrition on a regular basis. If you have questions or thoughts about this please feel free to contact me at everyoneschildren@gmail.com.

Above all, I solicit your prayers and continued assistance as we work through this global challenge. Your concern and support for Everyone’s Child is valued and welcome.

Blessings always,

Ruth