The era of COVID has of course required a lot of adaptability and constant conversation among our staff and community board about a role for SYEF in supporting our youth, their families, and the broader community. Our usual programming and activities were largely put on hold in order to be part of the needed measures to help mitigate the spread of disease — physical distancing, no large gatherings, among others – as well as recognizing that many of our youth had household responsibilities to support during the crisis.
Our Samburu staff recognized a number of needs which were generally in need of quick attention, and organized a role for the organization in the community. This included:
- Supporting high-risk individuals with basic needs, with a focus on older members of the community. We focused on food security and distributing disease-prevention supplies such as sanitizer and gloves.
- We went household to household to provide accurate information about disease spread and recommended measures to mitigate risk.
- We provided start-up funds to two women to launch a small enterprise of sewing and selling masks
- We provided free educational study materials to our students for independent study, to keep them in a habit of learning and studying
- We have provided a weekly basic income to our 25 beadwork artisan partners, since tourism has come to a halt in Kenya and there are no opportunities for beadwork sales to tourists. In addition, we promoted online sales of beadwork to support the women.
All of our efforts were in partnership and approval by local chiefs and elders, an important collaboration in the Samburu culture. COVID continues to remind us of the value of adaptability and an ability to make decisions in environments of uncertainty and change. This crisis has showcased the leadership of our staff, who have been out front on these activities and recognized as leaders in the community in providing support to people during this crisis. We even received recognition from a representative of Kenya’s president, thanking us for our efforts in Samburu!