A youth leader in Nyeri has embarked on a campaign to ensure that the most vulnerable members of the society access the basics such as food as well as facemasks and water for washing hands to protect them from the Coronavirus pandemic.
Amid the misery and worries caused by the novel Covid-19 disease, Waithera Maruru has shown courage and resilience in helping the marginalized groups, especially the street families to get food as well as soap and improvised tippy-tap devices for washing hands.
For Waithera, it is a passion borne out of an incident that occurred two weeks ago, after a poor woman collapsed within Nyeri Town streets, ostensibly out of hunger after going for many days without a meal.
“After regaining consciousness, the poor woman who is mother of four from the sprawling Asian Quarter slums within Nyeri Town, said she was diabetic and had not eaten for two days,” reported Waithera.
She said she was touched to learn about her predicament which paints a picture of the suffering the vulnerable people are going through during this period of Coronavirus pandemic, that has seen many of them who rely on menial work rendered jobless.
“I was moved by her plight and made up my mind to use the capacity and ability God has given me, to feed them until Coronavirus is over,” says the volunteer.
Besides providing food rations to street families collected from well-wishers, Ms. Waithera is also providing them with improvised hands-free tippy-taps to ensure they are able to wash their hands regularly as a means of combating the spread of the deadly viral disease.
She says the easy to use device is well suited for the slum areas that have no running water even as she chided the County Government for neglecting the marginalized groups who have no tapped water, especially during this time of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ms. Waithira says her device, made from 20-litre jerricans suspended on two poles, is operated by a foot lever just like other tippy-taps to dispense flowing water in small amounts for washing hands.
“The apparatus being operated by foot reduces the chances of virus transmission as the user only touches the soap,” said the volunteer, who is slowly etching her name among the Covid-19 heroes in the County.
She, however, says her effort is just but a drop in the ocean, given the growing number of cases of people needing basic needs because of the pandemic and called on both tiers of the government to step in.
“As much as we want to win this war by all means necessary, we must also keep in mind that we need to support one another to ensure our people don’t end up being killed, more by hunger than this disease,” said the youth leader.
Some of the streets families lamented that this was the hardest period of their lives as they are not able to put a meal on their tables since their small businesses had been closed down as a result of government directive on social distancing.
Many said having water to wash their hands and donning masks was like a luxury to them given they are unable to afford even a single meal in a day.
“Many of us are not working at the moment and even leaving our homes is a challenge given that we have no masks and we fear being arrested for lack of them,” said Monica Gathigia.
Nonetheless, they applauded the initiative by the volunteer but pleaded also with both the county and national governments to come to their aid.
By Samuel waititu