20 Apr Social Distancing In Our Homes
Due to the recent developments around the world concerning COVID-19, our mission is more important than ever before. Together with God and our donors around the world, we are able to continue our unwavering mission of providing a nurturing environment and safe home for our 100 kids in Kenya. In times like these, we are constantly reminded of how important family and community are.
Self Isolation in Kikuyu and Kitalale
Mandated by the president of Kenya, Uhru Kenyatta, our kids in boarding school returned safely to their respective homes (Kikuyu or Kitalale) as of mid-March to prevent the spread of the virus. As soon as they arrived, we began implementing social distancing guidelines to limit exposure to the virus, like banning all visitors and setting up more handwashing stations throughout each home. At first, the staff agreed amongst themselves that a certain number of them would stay with the kids for a two-week period and then rotate with the other staff members consequently. Seeing that the situation hadn’t improved after the two weeks passed, the staff who were on the first rotation came to a consensus that further rotation would pose a potential risk and agreed to stay in the homes for a longer period. This decision showed us the love the staff have for the kids and reinforced how blessed we are to have them part of our team.
In an effort to isolate each home as much as we can, we have one designated person who is in charge of gathering and dropping off supplies when needed. Robert in our Kitalale home and Simon in our Kikuyu home visit our suppliers to collect groceries, toiletries, medications and any other essential items. To limit contact with the home, Robert and Simon then drop off the supplies by the gate of their respective homes, where the security guards collect them and carefully transport them to the kitchen where all items are either washed and disinfected.
Creating a New Routine
With approximately 65 people including kids and staff in each home, the most important thing for us during this time has been to establish a new routine. Our days are filled with cooking, cleaning, homework, games, devotions and more. The kids give us purpose, laughter and joy every day. Currently, our Aunties, Uncles and staff are working hard in our Kikuyu and Kitalale homes to provide nutritious food, educational and emotional support as well as a spiritual outlet for our kids.
- 7:00am – Spending time as a family is important for us so all of the kids get up at the same time to eat breakfast together. It is typical for Kenyans to have tea and a light snack for breakfast. To surprise the kids and give them something to look forward to, the cooks will also make eggs and sausages twice a week.
- 8:00am – The kids are then broken up into different workstations to help with the maintenance of the home. Every day, the kids rotate between the different stations which include the kitchen, grounds, farm, dining hall, laundry, and general cleaning. The most popular workstation is the kitchen since those who help get to snack while they give the cooks a hand. Kids like Tony from Kikuyu and Elisha from Kitalale particularly enjoy working on the farm since they get to be surrounded by the animals.
- 10:00am – The kids get a break from their chores at around 10 am to have some tea and snack on either groundnuts, porridge, or eggs. The kids look forward to this break to connect with each other and with the other groups.
- 1:00pm – Considering we’ve been pretty lucky with the weather, we’ve been able to gather outside and eat lunch under the blue skies. Lunch is normally Githeri (mix of beans and maize, boiled and fried) with rice, lentils, Ugali (Kenyan staple made of maize flour) and vegetables.
- 2:00pm – Since our kids aren’t able to attend school physically, we set some time during the day for them to complete school assignments provided by their teachers right before social distancing guidelines were implemented. Some of the schools and teachers have also sent additional homework and assignments to the Aunties via email or WhatsApp. Without in-person direction from their teachers, the Aunties and older kids have stepped up to help the younger ones with complex subjects like math and science. As a nation, we are encouraged to see the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development provide digital learning platforms and free online resources for kids of all levels to continue their learning. For those without internet access, they have also released TV and radio lessons with allotted time slots for each grade level so all kids have a chance to tune in and learn.
- 4:00pm – Once the kids have completed their school assignments for the day, they get time to play. The sports lovers put on their sportswear and jump out of the home to play on the soccer field or basketball court. To include all of the kids and introduce a slight element of competition, we created different teams for the kids to play against each other. This has made the kids look forward to the games and has made them more intense and exciting.
- 8:00pm – In the evening, all of the kids gather for their devotions as a family. Once they are done, the Aunties tuck the younger ones in and wish them good night. As for the older kids, they will often stay up a bit longer to complete any homework or to read a novel.
On Sundays, we gather as a family for Sunday church service which are currently held in our homes. The Aunties recreate the church setting by decorating the dining room with freshly picked flowers and setting up the front table to make it look like a pulpit. The Aunties ensure the kids dress up in their Sunday clothes and bring their bibles to our at-home service. As a group, each home picks one person to run the service and lead others through prayer.
It is needless to say that times are different and this can take a toll on some people. To help the mental health of our kids and ease any stress or anxiety, we have been organizing small group discussions between the staff and the kids during which they get to ask questions and express any fears regarding the pandemic. We have noticed that these discussions provide an opportunity for our kids to further bond with our caregivers, helping provide a sense of security and stability during this uncertain time.
On the flip side, we have also been staying in close contact with our Aunties, Uncles and staff to make sure they are feeling emotionally and physically healthy during this time. We have encouraged our staff to be open and to express their needs. Whether it is a need for additional downtime or time to pray, we are trying to be as accommodating as we can to get through this together.
Over the past month, we have witnessed nothing but love, faith, and resilience in our homes. Even though things are different and our rhythms have changed, we are grateful for the health of our kids, staff members and family around the world. We want to thank you for your ongoing support that is helping us get through this time.