Dear Alliance of Baptist Staff
Greetings from West Pokot Kenya!
How are you doing amidst this Covid-19 Pandemic? how is it affecting your day to day life?
Are you finding it difficult to stay positive and hopeful as I am, if so how are you sitting with and addressing these kinds of thoughts and feelings?
On March the 13th the first case of Covid 19 was confirmed here in Kenya, when a Kenyan student in the US came back home via London. Immediately we started to realize the impact of this virus in our work here, when the our president issued a directive for all learning institutions to close and send their students home, and if possible for employers to allow their employees to work from home and for all scheduled public gatherings to be cancelled.
The first thing that we did was to postpone the graduation ceremony for the 30 girls that had completed their tailoring training with us last year, which we had scheduled for Friday the 27th of March. The President's directive was announced on Friday the 13th and the following Monday we had a meeting with our students to talk about this issue. As it turned out most of them were in the know about the pandemic because they had heard on their phone radios about what was going on. We collaborated with some guardians of our students on how we were going to provide transportation for the girls to go back home, the guardians provided 2 vehicles and we provided our van and by the end of the day had dropped most of the girls back home safely.
On this same Monday that we released our students to return home, we also released majority of our staff, except for Davy, Simo and Sylvia who stay in the compound and help us with maintaining our farm. Raphael, our night guard also stayed and continued with his work as usual.
As a safety precaution we also made the decision to postpone a conference that we had scheduled for the first week of May that we were planning to host here in Kapenguria. The conference is an African consultative meeting organized by our mission partner Covenant World Relief for all the ministries in Africa that they partner with. We normally hold this conference every two years in different parts of Africa and this year we were being honored with the opportunity to host it in our community. I have personally found it to be very empowering and rejuvenating in my journey of service, so I was sad to have to cancel it.
As terrifying as the Covid-19 pandemic is, I appreciate the fact that it has not yet been recorded here in West Pokot County where we are nor in any of our neighboring counties. As such it has gifted us with this blessing of time to make some progress on this construction project that we have been working on slowly since 2014.
When our students are in session safety measures normally restricts us from doing construction work. Hence when they left on Monday it was a good time to work on finishing the first floor of the building where we are creating space for a 3rd classroom that is also big enough to serve as a workshop for the production Students. On the same floor also we have set space for our new office. When this floor is done we plan to move all our classrooms and office to this new building and use the old semi permanent building for food storage space, a kitchen that is big enough to also serve as a catering class and a dining hall that can accommodate all of us in one go.
Besides finishing this first floor we are also doing two more activities in this construction project
- Working on mending one part of the old fence that had been brought down by the nonstop heavy rains that we experienced late last year.
- Constructing an outside bathroom building that would have 7 shower stalls for our students to use. This year the number of our boarding students rose to about 48 and they had only 4 bathroom to use, it was hardly enough, so some of them would take their baths outside in the grass when it was still dark outside. So I am glad to have a chance to create this private and safe space for them.
My dad and I have had several conversations with our construction workers about safety measures and we try to enforce hand washing and controlled movement in and out of the compound. At the moment we are allowed to work and lock down is being enforced only at night. However since the confirmed cases have continued to rise in Kenya, we may have to stop doing anymore construction work, until the situation is under control.
I hope that you are being safe wherever you are.
Blessings to you and yours.
Philipine c Kidulah
Founder and Director
Jitokeze Wamama Wafrika