Distribution of food and other essential items in Riruta, Nairobi, Kenya.

Photo: Patrician Brothers

Responding to COVID-19

In 2020, Misean Cara members, as with the rest of the world, faced significant challenges from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Misean Cara members, living alongside the communities they serve, were ideally placed to see the immediate impact of the pandemic when it emerged and to respond quickly to the needs of the people they work with. To help with this, members were permitted to reallocate a portion of already approved project funding to COVID-19 prevention and response measures.

COVID-19 Funding 2020

€1,116,411

supported

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33

members

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93

projects

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across 27

countries

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502,363

people

COVID-19 Emergency Funding

As the pandemic began to present emergencies beyond curtailing the spread of the virus, we established a dedicated COVID-19 Fund to enable members to react to the secondary impacts of the pandemic, including heightened food insecurity, school closures, loss of livelihoods, and increased gender-based violence.

As well as this, we also made additional funding available to support ongoing COVID-19 prevention interventions, including purchase and distribution of PPE and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) units, helping health facilities set up dispensary and triage services as well as quarantine units, and support for community sensitisation initiatives to help counteract misinformation and myths about COVID-19.

Delivering Education to Girls During COVID-19

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on many aspects of life for people in the developing world, but it has particularly exacerbated the already steep challenges and inequalities faced by adolescent girls trying to access education. With most schools closed temporarily around the world, many girls faced the danger of permanently dropping out of school. As a result of COVID-19, it is estimated that as many as 20 million secondary school girls in developing countries may never return to education.

Our members reacted quickly to the threats adapting their projects to ensure that girls in their communities still had access to education during lockdown. Several members, including the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loreto) and Salesian Sisters, developed innovative solutions such as home outreach initiatives to provide education materials and psychological support. Food and other supports were also provided to families to reduce the risk of girls being forced to work or marry early. In Nigeria, girls were provided with solar-powered radios to enable them to listen to broadcast school lessons, while in Peru, lessons were distributed to girls as pre-recorded WhatsApp video lessons.

Hunger, the secondary crisis of COVID-19: Emergency food support for the people of Riruta, Nairobi, Kenya

 

When COVID-19 arrived in the poor, crowded area of Riruta in Nairobi, Kenya, many people there became fearful and anxious for their livelihoods. Families in the neighbouring suburbs who had employed many Riruta dwellers as domestic help, quickly let their staff go out of fear of contracting the virus. When the Kenyan Government announced a strict nightly curfew from 7pm it became even harder for many people to work, putting them at risk of food shortages and hunger.

The Patrician Brothers, who have lived and worked in Riruta for more than 20 years, secured emergency funds from Misean Cara to ease the difficult circumstances and bring support to their neighbours. They purchased food and household supplies for the most severely affected families. Because the Patricians are well-integrated in the Riruta community, they collaborated with local chiefs and elders to identify the families and individuals with the greatest need for food support during the lockdown.

Travel in and out of Nairobi was banned during the pandemic-related restrictions, so the project team requested government permission to source food from outside and have it brought in. The project team also teamed with government inspectors to make sure that COVID-19 safety guidelines were adhered to at all times by project staff and that instructions were given to those receiving the aid in the correct wearing of masks and the importance of staying socially distanced in the food queues.

Anyone selected to receive food parcels was given a scheduled time to arrive at the distribution depot, in order to avoid over-crowding and potential panic. Packages were supplied to each household, containing essential food and personal products including sugar, rice, tea leaves, cooking oil, beans, and maize flour, as well as soaps, cleaners and sanitary pads. For those families deemed to be at greater risk from exposure to COVID-19, project staff went door-to-door to deliver parcels.

With funding through Misean Cara, more than 600 Riruta households (approximately 3,000 people) received the emergency food support they needed to get through the lockdown. As restrictions began to lift, small businesses in Riruta started to reopen and more people were able to return to work. With their livelihoods returning, some of the fear and anxiety that came with the pandemic lessened. The Patrician Brothers continue to perform return visits to households that received aid to be sure of their well-being.

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