We hope you and your family are keeping safe and well in these very challenging and difficult times.
The situation in Kenya is also very challenging and very difficult.
When the Kenya Government made the decision to close all education establishments in March, they announced that schools would remain closed until January 2021 and that all pupils would have to repeat the year that had been lost.
However, in September the Kenya Government decided that all schools would reopen in October, with the top 2 primary classes starting in early October and all the other classes starting 2 weeks later.
The top 2 classes started back at school as planned but almost immediately after the 2 classes returned there was a large spike in positive Coronavirus cases and the Kenya Government made a quick decision to postpone the starting of all the other classes until at least the New Year. The 2 top classes have been allowed to remain in school.
In re-opening the school there were certain regulations that had to be followed. We had to ensure that the school was thoroughly cleaned and all staff briefed on how to proceed. Everyone entering the school has to have their temperature taken and recorded, all have to wash hands (we have had to provided extra water barrels for this), all have to wear masks. Obviously, all necessary measures to prevent the spread of this awful disease.
How education in Kenya will be organised in 2021 we do not yet know.
When schools first closed, as we mentioned in our last newsletter, we did consult with Joshua our headteacher, about the possibility of continuing feeding the children each day. However, this was not possible under the restrictions imposed by the Kenya Government. Instead we arranged for Joshua to personally deliver a bag of flour to all the families of the 300 children. We will be asking him to do this again before Christmas.
Ugali is the ‘staple diet’ of Kenyans and each bag of flour will provide about 12 meals. It may not be a lot but we know just how much the families have appreciated the donation.
When you see the situation in Kenya, you fully appreciate our NHS and Welfare System. There is no Welfare System in Kenya as we know it and the hundreds of thousands of Kenyans who have been put out of work have to survive as best they can with no income.
Kenya does not have the facilities for testing that we have in the UK. There was an article in the Online Kenya newspaper, The Nation, towards the end of November stating that the only testing machine for Coronavirus in Mombasa had broken down.
Even when the machine was working it was reported that results were taking about 10 days to come through. That is not good news when Mombasa County has the second highest infection rates and deaths in any county in Kenya.
Our understanding is that people have to pay to be tested. However, when a few months ago, it was reported that the Mombasa County Governor offered free tests to people living in some of the poorest areas in Mombasa, people were reluctant to have the tests. This was because if they tested positive they could be made to go to quarantine facilities set up by the Government and would have to pay for their accommodation.
Those who have had to be admitted to hospitals for treatment for Coronavirus can end up with enormous bills that would ‘even make our eyes water’.
For us in the UK the possibility of having vaccinations accessible soon will hopefully give us hope for an end to the pandemic. Our vaccinations will be funded by our NHS but what will happen in countries like Kenya where there is no free health service we really don’t know.
Those of us Trustees who visit Kenya regularly are hoping that maybe we will be able to visit later next year but at the moment there is such a lot of uncertainty.
On a more positive note, we have been contacted by a school in Chorley, Euxton C of E Primary school, the year 3 class are keen on exploring a ‘partnership’ with MPS whereby both parties can benefit from the understanding of how the different cultures work in the educational sense. Euxton see this as a long-term partnership and we are exploring different ideas and projects that we may be able to engage in. Initially we will be sharing a day in December whereby the children receive some juice and a biscuit (courtesy of Euxton PS), apparently the year 3 children always serve the rest of their school with chocolate drinks at Christmas time, a tradition that goes back years, so they wish to share this day with MPS and exchange photos and videos. A great way to introduce each other. Look out for some pictures of this day in due course.
We are so very grateful to all our supporters who donate on a regular basis because it is your kindness and generosity that is helping to ensure the long-term future of Mikoroshoni.
Christmas this year is certainly going to be different for all of us. We hope that you will be able to enjoy the festivities despite all the restrictions.
From the Trustees and everyone associated with MPS both here in the UK and in Kenya we send you Seasons Greetings and hope that 2021 proves to be a better year than 2020.