On 13th March 2020, Kenya reported its first case of COVID -19. As a result the government of Kenya issued a directive that saw an end to teaching in schools and programs, working from home, social distancing and an end to public gatherings. As a result of this the music stopped at our Ghetto Classics centres. However the work of Ghetto Classics did not stop, beyond being a music programme we are a community programme where the livelihoods and well being of our members is also top priority. Below our Ghetto Classics manager Simon Kariuki tells us about an initiative that he started to prevent the spread of COVID -19 in our community and which grew to become a support line through food donations in the community…..
The initiative was started as the response to control the spread of COVID-19; it was driven by the fact that people in our community are not in a position to adhere to the given Government guidelines due to their living conditions. The main reason I saw the need of starting the initiative is because my community is more vulnerable to the current situation because:
- The community is not aware how the diseases is spreading and their role in controlling it. In addition with poor sanitation and water rationing it becomes a major obstacle on fighting the disease and the call by the government to hand wash and keep social distances which is not possible due to over population in our slums.
- 80% of residents live from hand to mouth, most of them earn less than 150Ksh per day making it a challenge to survive. This situation can result to insecurity and vandalism because people will do anything to survive (Increased frustration levels causing in fighting between community dwellers due to unemployment related to COVID 19).
- Increased anxiety in the community; people are helpless and not sure of what might happen if it continues, especially jobs and lockdown fears.
I realised it is my responsibility to mobilise and inform the community on COVID -19 preventive measures. Together with the youth in Korogocho and its neighbourhoods, we saw it as a necessity to support our people with basic needs. The best ways was to provide basic water tanks and soap, wearing face masks, social distance and personal hygiene.
It has really acted as unifying factor. Since the campaign commenced, the community joined hands to fight the common enemy, which is COVID 19 regardless of one’s background, religion, education, gender and political affiliation.
The initial idea was to provide portable water containers to local youths at strategic spots in the community with the aim of helping people keep their hands clean. We started by mobilising soap and containers from well-wishers. The response has been positive since day one, and over 150 tanks have been distributed across the seven villages of Korogocho and neighbouring communities; Dandora, Lucky Summer, Baba Dogo and Kariobangi.
The Clean Hand initiative has given birth to a new culture in our society where everyone is washing hands with soap and running water. Washing hands will not only prevent spread of COVID-19 but also reduces other diseases, such as cholera. It will also bring back the sense of ownership whereby the custodian of the water tank ensures the passersby and the community at large cleans hands, free of charge. The project has been sustainable because we have been working together with local youth leaders who helped on establishing most vulnerable water point across our areas of operation.
While distributing the water tanks we saw there was a greater need for the most vulnerable and as such the campaign evolved and we began providing foodstuffs to the most vulnerable in our community. The Food Relief drive initiative is doing great and we have managed to feed over 600 people mainly Ghetto Classics members. The Ghetto Classics team manages the distribution, as 90% of the donations go to members making the distribution much manageable. However we have identified and given food to non-members who are most vulnerable (sick and old people) in the larger community. The Food drive has rounded out what is needed and increased the supply of high need items such as milk, fresh vegetables, maize flour, cooking oil, cereals, sugar and personal care items.
The Ghetto Classics Clean hands and food drive initiatives have strengthened community interaction enabling people from a wide range of ages, neighbourhoods and businesses to team up for a common cause. Both initiatives are hands-on project: The education provided to the community on COVID-19 prevention measures, especially on maintaining hygiene is crucial in current situation. The clean hand and food drive initiative is one of the kinds of initiative that Ghetto Classics is meant for – through music and the community of musicians we can make a difference in our society.
Click here to see our distribution in action