Friends of Ngong Road has worked for 14 years with students on the other side of the planet and somehow hundreds of sponsors and supporters have found a way to build personal connections with Kenyans. In fact, Friends of Ngong Road is deeply committed to helping sponsors and donors build relationships with the students in our program. In our world today, now challenged by COVID-19, we may be a world away but personal connections are still indispensable!
Students, our Kenyan staff, and their families are all fine so far. There are a total of 28 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kenya. As of March 25 at midnight, no more international flights are allowed in the country. Kenya’s government has imposed a dusk to dawn curfew from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily. The president and his deputy have taken a 80% cut in pay and all other high-ranking officials have taken a 50% cut. The government has also made the important step of waiving income tax for people who earn less than 24,000 KSH per month (about $240) and reducing income tax for higher wage earners.
Our normal process is to distribute 15 food packets monthly for families in the greatest need. From March 23rd to 27th alone we distributed 50. We will try to increase this food distribution as we get more information about where the greatest need lies. A food packet is pretty basic: 1 kg beans, 2 kg rice, 500 g of cooking fat and 4 kg of maize flour. This food provides the basis for a family of four to eat at least one time daily for a week. The maize flour is used to make a cornmeal mush called ugali, Kenya’s staple food. It is typically eaten with collard greens or kale.
The Kenyan offices are operating with a skeleton staff and handling meetings by appointment only. The computer lab and library are closed. We may allow some students to use it by appointment in the coming days and weeks. Case workers are making weekly calls to each of the families they support and through that, we are collecting data on how many people are still able to work, how many have traveled to rural areas in an effort to protect themselves and how many are in dire need of support.
Thank you for the personal connections you have made with our friends in Kenya. We’re all in this together!