Students smiling despite pandemic, flooding
Editor’s Note: The situation on the ground in Kisumu is changing daily, with talk of another lockdown looming. The information contained herein is current as of June 9, 2021, unless otherwise noted, though things may have changed when you read this.
It was with great joy that in early May the students of the Korando Education Center were able to return to their classes. Smiles could be seen on their masked faces as they were delighted to be together learning again. Over a month before, the government paused all studies and asked dormitories to close due to an increase in Covid-19 cases. The reopening of all schools, kindergarten through university, has allowed for all of the students living at the center to return and classes to be restored to full capacity. This stability in education, housing and food is imperative during this time of uncertainty and upheaval. While the school remains open, Mama Dolfine, with the help of funds from our donors, is able to provide all of the children porridge for breakfast, as well as lunch to those that live at the Center or those cannot receive lunch at home.
Although we are joyful that the children have been able to return to their studies and receive regular meals, Covid-19 cases continue to ebb and flow across the country. Currently, the reported positive cases of Covid-19 seem to be in decline; however the government has stated that they are concerned about variant strains coming out of India further complicating the situation. Relatedly, Kenya is running out of Covid-19 vaccines due to the disruption of manufacturing in India. While our friends at Korando are able to remain in school for now, the threat of more lockdowns always looms overhead. As of today, the government has stated that a lockdown in Kisumu County may be needed to halt the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19.
Against this fragile backdrop, Kenya is experiencing climate change and unpredictable weather patterns. Kenya usually relies on periods of long rains and short rains to keep the soil healthy year-round for agriculture, but these cycles have not been consistent in recent years. Once again, our friends at Korando are experiencing floods, as is the greater Kisumu area they call home. While living at the farm during the most recent lockdown, the students needed to put tarps on the floor to protect the mattresses from the waters rising from Lake Victoria.
The economic hardship brought on by 14 months of the pandemic and these weather emergencies have converged into one of Korando’s greatest challenges: food scarcity and increased food prices. Demand for food is high but the supply is low, and the prices reflect this. While the border with Uganda is currently closed, the governments are allowing trucks carrying food to transfer through. Mama Dolfine has been acquiring food in this way since Covid-19 began, but she is running low on basic staples once again. She predicts that she will be without grain by the end of the month. With your regular donations, we have been able to provide the funds necessary to procure the needed staples and plan to continue as we are able.
As one can imagine, the combination of sky-rocketing food prices and food scarcity leads to desperation within the surrounding community. There has been an increase in reported cases of violent attacks and robberies since Covid-19 and the extreme flooding of 2020.
While money is sent on a monthly basis for food, the need has only increased in the last year – and we predict it will continue to increase until further notice. Mama Dolfine and the Korando community continue to send their sincere gratitude for any aid that they receive from the Ripple Effect Project, and donors like you.