As organizations try to respond to Covid-19, Lifesong Kenya’s approach is both innovative and empowering. Lifesong Kenya is more known for its programs in prison. I had the privilege of visiting the juvenile prison over a year ago. I can say that this is an amazing lesson on giving during crisis.
You can read Job’s story here.

This is An Amazing Lesson on Giving During Crisis
Buying foodstuffs from local sellers ensures that money circulates in the local community.

In the wake of Covid-19, schools and prisons have been closed. As a result, families who live in low-income settlements in the city have been adversely affected. 
Like many other organizations, Lifesong Kenya begun assisting vulnerable families. And they are using an innovative approach to do that. One of the beneficiaries of Lifesong’s Food Care Package is Romario, a university student who lives with his mom, sister and aunt in Bombolulu, Kibera.
“It’s been tough for our family as we depend on my mom who has lost her casual job,” says Romario.
Those jobs are rare to find and Romario’s family has had to survive on one proper meal per day. When Lifesong Kenya stepped in to offer support, Romario’s family were incredibly happy and relieved. To offer support, the Lifesong team cycled to Kibera to meet Romario and his family.

Job Naibei: This is An Amazing Lesson on Giving During Crisis

I asked Romario how they have been supported and here is his response.
“We bought maize flour, beans, wheat flour, rice and cooking oil. He also bought us eggs, omena and vegetables” he responded with a broad smile.
But James did not just buy the food. How he approached it is what Romario finds most interesting and fulfilling.
“First of all, he visited us at home and together, we drew a budget of the kind of food our family usually eat,” he says. “Being involved in the whole process and the fact that he asked what we needed made it more unique.”
“The other unique this was the fact that the team did not ask to take our photos,” Romario adds. “This gave us dignity and made us feel as if we had received helped from one of our best friends or family member.”
After drawing the budget, the team asked to be taken to a local shop where the family usually buys from. Then they bought vegetables and omena from one of Romario’s neighbor.  
The process ends with Lifesong Kenya paying for a week’s shopping. At the end of each week, the team sits down with the family to make an assessment. This is done to discuss what needs to be added or reduced from the budget.

Food Care Package

Our next stop was at the local shop where Romario picks his family’s weekly supplies. David, the shopkeeper, noted that life most of their customers have little or no money to spend.
“As you well know, other organizations (who support families) are buying from supermarkets in bulk,” David explains. “This denies us a source of income and we also become vulnerable. But having an organization like Lifesong that supports small businesses in the community is very uplifting.”
James’ explanation to their Covid-19 response is simple.
“We sit with each individual family to learn about their usual meal routine. This helps us in in gathering information and ensuring we don’t disrupt family routines.”
He adds that this provides respect of choice, encourages participation and upholds the dignity of vulnerable families that need help, care and support during crisis.

Final Thoughts

If you think about it, the commotion and attention that comes with food donations in low income communities is bad for social distancing. In addition, it also degrades the dignity of those who receive help. Sometimes, it benefits only the strongest and fuels animosity in the community. By taking a different and bold approach, I can attest that this is an amazing lesson on giving during crisis. 
Romario’s family is just one of the 26 families that Lifesong Kenya is supporting for a whole month. Your support can make it 27 families. Your friends’ support can make it 30, 40 even 50 families. Consider supporting this Food Care Package today by donating as little as 100 bob to the MPesa Paybill number: 574 329 Account: Lifesong. You can also donate on this link.

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