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We work directly with communities & schools in Kenya to provide access to quality education.

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COVID -19 Response /Update 7.4.20

7th April 2020

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Another week has passed and I wanted to give you another update to the evolution in Kenya. I hope that this message finds you well and safe and your friends and family at this scary time. 
Let me start today with an ask. I am in need of some volunteers. Not a huge amount; but people who can give some time, from home, with access to the internet and email. If this is you, please drop me an email at mattnorton123@icloud.com and I will tell you how you can help. 
At the time of writing, Kenya has 172 cases and 6 people have died. The number drastically increasing in the last 7 days. This is the third time that I have written to you in the space of 2 weeks and we have gone from 25 to 52 to 172 in that time. The numbers in Kenya as total cases are rising faster than we did in the UK but the death rates are much lower. 
Yesterday Kenya put in place new measures to restrict movement by locking down Nairobi, stopping people from entering the city boundary and stopping people already in the city from exiting. With Nairobi the epicentre in Kenya, this step was to try and control the spread further. I have heard a rumour today that the Ministry of Health could put the country into complete lockdown because of people not obeying the orders of the country to remain at home and observe the rules. I hear stories of buses still packed, people are drastically trying to make money to eat and social gatherings such as churches are not adhering to the rules established. 
Onto Memusi; again I am thankful to be able to say that Magadi still doesn’t have any cases and I am hopeful that their fast approach to lockdown has been effective. I am also relieved that I got Peter to see sense and got him and his family out of Nairobi and into the country where he is safer ahead of the new rules being announced on Monday. 
Since I wrote last week, here is what we have done: 
  • soap distribution has now taken place. We have already invested $2500 in soap and have worked with Magadi Soda Foundation to distribute across Magadi to as many people as possible. To put into context, over 400 households near Memusi A received soap and training and awareness education as a result and this was just one of many areas that we visited. More has been ordered and is about to be distributed helping us reach several thousand households (a household could contain up to 8 people)
  • Education. Through working with Twinkl in the UK (parents and teachers in the UK I am sure will know Twinkl - for those that don’t, they are the largest provider of materials to schools in the UK), I have managed to get free access to education materials. We are printing out packs for as many children as we can possibly reach. We believe that we can reach 10,000 children with access to the education materials to facilitate home learning. The printing is underway and we are expecting distribution to follow this week. This has already started at Ilparakou and Magadi Primary and will be reaching out wider shortly. 
  • Education. Erick returned to Memusi on Monday so that he could be there for our Grade 8 students. Whilst he cannot teach, we are going through the provision of printed materials that Erick will be delivering to all of our Grade 8 students to ensure that they have the support locally (and socially distanced) to be able to continue their learning whilst not in school. I take my hat off to this teacher; who against my advice, has (with the blessing and encouragement of his family) returned because he couldn’t settle knowing that his students weren’t learning. 
We are now working through Food. Through market closures across the country, people are not able to trade their livestock, which means that people don’t have money to be able to purchase food. In the last week, food cost has trebled in Nairobi and as such we are desperately trying to work through a solution and working with TATA to make sure that they have collaborative plans in place to support people imminently. In honesty it feels like a race where the whistle is about to blow to signal that we have to stop, when lockdown will make things so much more difficult. I hope and pray that we can win that race. 
On a personal note; yesterday was one of the hardest days that I have had in the last 15 years in Kenya. Calls from people begging for me to help them to not die. I woke this morning, turned my phone on and there was a photo of a child who had died yesterday.  I am not entirely sure how you are supposed to cope when someone asks you to help them not to die. COVID-19 as a pandemic is something that has brought not just a virus, but it has also bringing with it starvation. Through lockdown and closure of shops and livelihoods there is now 80% of the population who live hand to mouth who are more scared that they will die of starvation than die of a virus; and this is just one country. The places that people used to get help have folded thorough lack of support and therefore at a time when people need help the most, the places that people can get help is drying up. I am sure that you can replicate that many times over across the poorer nations of the world. 
One of my favourite sayings over the years is to do all the good that you can, by all the means that you can, in all the ways that you can, in all the places that you can, at all the times that you can, to all the people that you can, as long as ever you can. That is the plan.  
I pray for the world right now. I pray for all of us, our families and friends that this comes to an end quickly. I pray for Kenya and the rest of the world where their journey into COVID-19 is just starting and that the consequences are not as bad I fear that they are heading. 
As ever, my sincere thanks to you for your support not just today, but over many years. Thank you for sticking with us all of the times that you have to give hope. I don’t think I will ever be able to say thank you enough.. 
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