Over 100 school children in two locations in Kaloleni Sub County have opted to engage themselves in income generating activities to cushion themselves against Covid -19 pandemic following the closure of schools in March, 2020.
The Primary and Secondary School Students in Mwanamwinga and Kayafungo locations said they have formed small groups and have been engaging in vegetable growing, charcoal preparation and taping mnazi alcohol for sale so that they could earn income to support their parents.
“We have not abandoned school but we attend to our daily studies during the evening and spend the day busy in our activities so that we can raise income. Those taping mnazi are making a booming business owing to the high demand,” said William Karisa who comes from Mwanamwinga location and is the chairman in one of the groups.
19- year old Karisa who is a form 3 student at St. Georges’ high school, Kaloleni Giriama said his group is made up of 10 students from two different high schools and have been engaging in vegetable growing since April, 2020.
“After the outbreak of Covid-19 which was first reported in March 2020, we did not foresee the opening of schools anytime soon and because the long rain season had just begun, we immediately opted to move into farming. We have been growing tomatoes, sukuma wiki and spinach but the tomatoes did not do well because of the heavy rains,” he said.
He said his group did not want to be easily influenced into immoral activities like sex and drug abuse as has been the case by some of their colleagues, a reason why they came together and be busy throughout the day.
“Some of our colleagues in this area have been victims of immorality with some having been arraigned in courts on defilement and drugs abuse charges. Idleness has caused them all these problems and the only solution is to engage in genuine economic activities,” he said.
Karisa said at his Kibwabwani home that they have been harvesting sukuma wiki and spinach since May this year and have raised over Sh.20,000 from the sales which they share to meet needs for their families.
“We cannot remain idle for nine months even if we take to our studies before the re-opening of schools next year. There are many things we can do apart from our evening studies provided we are maintaining the Ministry of Health guidelines to keep off Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
Gabriel Charo who is a standard eight pupil at Mitsikitsini primary school in Kayafungo location said he is leading 13 of his colleagues in taping mnazi drink for sell.
The 17 year old boy said they have been raising a good income which necessitated them to join local savings groups, adding that they have saved over Sh. 30,000 since April when they started their activity after the closure of schools.
“We are optimistic that by December this year, we will have saved over sh.100,000 which we intend to purchase a motor bike and use it as a boda boda to raise more income for the members,” he said.
Charo said all his 12 colleagues are in class 8 and were set to sit for this year’s KCPE which has been cancelled and that none of them is willing to drop out of school come next year.
“Some of us come families are poor and some have single mothers and have to do activities for the families to get a meal. We have been engaging in this business even before the schools were closed due to Covid-19,” he said.
He said despite their engagement in the most tempting business in mnazi, none of them has ever tested the drink and only take it to a collection point where their customers collect to ferry it to different towns in the region.
“The prices of mnazi drink have been fluctuating from time to time with demand. While we are now harvesting more than 200 litres per day, the prices have gone up and are selling a litre of mnazi at Sh.50,” he said.
He said the brew has ready market in Chanagande, Makomboani and Kinani collection centres and that at the moment, due to the high demand some boda boda riders come to their homes to collect the brew.
The Kaloleni Deputy County Commissioner (DCC), Reuben Rotich has been complaining over the rising cases of criminal activities like defilements and early pregnancies and partly attributed it to some children who have been out of school.
He commended those disciplined students who have found something to do for the time they will be out of school but advised them not to be attracted with money and end up dropping out of school.
By Harrison Yeri