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Success story: Food distribution offers an opportunity for counseling

Report from Jonathan Hamisi

TAI CBO Program Officer, Kenya

At present, many communities are being forced to change rapidly because of changes in the economy and the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lives have changed so much that old ways of coping do not work anymore. In such situations, it really helps to have someone to talk. This is what TAI Community Based Organization (TAI CBO), in partnership with Spirit in Action, has done in Maua, Kenya. (See TAI CBO's website.)

It all started when we received the first grant from SIA to facilitate making and distribution of reusable face masks and liquid soap. The project was very successful; however, we received requests from the families to intervene also on the volatile food situation.

Through an additional grant from SIA, we have been able to reach forty families and supported them with food stuffs that could last for some weeks. We were also able to pay rent to one family who was being thrown out of their rented house, and pay a pressing hospital bill for another family.

people walking along a path
Becky and Simon of TAI CBO bring food to families.

There were some important lessons we learnt while visiting the families in their homes.

In one the families we visited, we found children alone in the homestead but when we inquired about their mother’s whereabouts, the children informed us that she was asleep due to stress. After engaging her she replied, “Today my son is celebrating the occasion of initiation from childhood to manhood and I don’t have anything in the house to prepare for him to eat.” We realized the kind of stress and mental effect the present situation had put on this mother. It is a true fact that, “just as a woman’s body can be healthy or unhealthy, so can her mind and spirit.” We offered her counseling first before we handed her the food.

boy holding food

Children are an integral part of our program. Kimathi insisted that he wanted to receive the food on behalf of his mother, Margaret.

old woman receiving food

“You have surprised me! As an old granny I didn’t expect this, may God so richly bless the work of your hands,” said Kabuku, crying while receiving the food items.

Silver Linings of COVID-19

Every coin has two faces. With bad comes the good, and these are some of the positive feelings in the community now.

(1) This pandemic has helped some families to build genuine relationships

Everyone has been so busy living life and many had lost those real, genuine moments they have with their loved ones. Now, the COVID-19 situation has positively impacted the way members of families emote and maintain relationships. Many are spending time at home with their families and plan their work better. This actually helps families build a better future.

“As life slowed down, we have found ways to stay connected with people, and reconnect with our loved ones, especially these daughters of mine,” said M’mwirabua, a single father.

(2) New Hygiene Habits

These recent times have made everybody aware of how to engage more hygienically. From shaking hands to greetings, we all have had a lifestyle change for the better. Being hygienic is no longer just a good habit, but the very skill we all need for survival.

“Me and my daughters are going to remember to cover our mouths when we cough, to wash our hands after touching anything else because we now know what can happen if we don’t,”said Kaimuri, the TAI group secretary.

At TAI CBO we believe that as countries everywhere are still fighting this pandemic, by God’s grace we are going to overcome this. We’re more than conquerors and a race of survivors. We’re going to win this too. The battle is hard and long, but we are looking forward and focus on the brighter side. We are grateful for all that we have in these difficult times.

Stay physically distant but socially connected.

Please take care and be safe.

Report prepared by:

Jonathan Hamisi

Program Officer

Contribute to SIA's COVID response fund here.

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