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The latest news from Friends of Kipkelion
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Times are tough in Kipkelion right now – the pandemic has had a severe effect on people’s lives, as it has almost everywhere in the world.  Kenya has not so far suffered as many deaths as other countries – likely a result of the outdoor lifestyle and predominantly young population. However, there are worrying signs that infections and deaths have been significantly under-reported in Kenya. Alongside this, Kenya’s lockdown has caused huge economic hardship to many families in Kipkelion.

There is work to be done.

Michael Deriaz
Chairman, Friends of Kipkelion

Life in Kenya’s lockdown

The most severe aspect of Kenya’s lockdown for many people has been the complete closure of schools – even now, only select year groups are being allowed back. While at home, very few children have been able to continue with their schoolwork – instead, they spend hours every day fetching firewood, digging the fields or looking after cattle. With schools currently not expected to reopen until January 2021, the Kenyan Government expects that children will have to repeat the whole academic year again. Faced with the challenge, it’s expected that many children will drop out of education permanently.
Girls in Kipkelion are suffering disproportionately as a result of the pandemic. The lockdown has made them especially vulnerable to sexual abuse from neighbours and relatives, resulting in a huge rise in teenage pregnancies being seen throughout Kenya. As a result of economic difficulties, many girls are at risk of being forced into early marriage, since in Kenya this normally involves the husband paying to the girl’s family a dowry known as the “bride price”. Families which have suffered a severe reduction in their income due to the pandemic are now tempted to marry off their daughters simply to get some extra cash to survive.

What We Are Doing

The good news is that our partners, Brighter Communities Worldwide, have been able to continue operating in Kipkelion throughout the pandemic.  Many of our projects have been successfully adapted so that the work can continue in a Covid-safe manner. Brighter Communities have also been helping the local population and medical staff, ensuring that they are protected against the virus.

Soap and Handwashing

We are currently supporting Brighter Communities Worldwide in a massive push to get soap and handwashing facilities to thousands of families in Kipkelion.  Thanks to the support of our donors including the Mazars Trust, the team in Kipkelion have distributed truckloads of supplies to families across the region!

Community Health

We are delighted to be able to announce officially that we now have another project supported by the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) – formerly known as DFID. Thanks to a £50,000 grant from FCDO, we are in the process of launching a two-year Community Health campaign. This will involve the provision of handwashing facilities and PPE, training in emergency first aid techniques and the ongoing support of ‘mobile clinics’ which provide valuable on-the-spot medical advice and vaccinations.

Maternal Health

September saw the successful conclusion of our two-year involvement in the Maternal Health project in Kipkelion. The project gave more women the opportunity to give birth in a clinic or hospital, and also saw an increase in pregnant women attending antenatal appointments. With more work remaining, Brighter Communities Worldwide are continuing the Maternal Health programme with support from other donors.

Menstrual Hygiene

Our long-running menstrual hygiene programme has understandably had to adapt to the repercussions of coronavirus – as many people have said, “Periods don’t stop for pandemics”! In response, Brighter Communities worked closely with local women who acted as “ambassadors” - travelling around and explaining menstrual hygiene to small groups of women and girls across the region. 
 

Community Education

With thousands of children marooned at home in Kipkelion during lockdown, we supported Brighter Communities in their Community Education initiative. Children were encouraged to enjoy some structured learning activities and games while sat out in the open air on the school playing fields, supported by volunteer teachers. The children, many of whom arrived unhappy and exhausted, really loved seeing their friends and teachers again and getting to use their brains!

 

Resurgence of FGM - how you can help..

Our ongoing fight to eradicate FGM in Kipkelion has seen considerable success over the years. But we are now seeing a worrying resurgence of the practice during 2020. The harsh conditions created by the pandemic have seen impoverished families give up on their hopes of educating their children, and instead look to improve their daughters’ marriage prospects. Too often this involves turning to FGM. We will be fighting back with our “alternative rites of passage” courses again this year, to protect girls who are particularly at risk of FGM. This project will form the basis of this year’s Big Give Christmas Challenge – and any donation you make to us via the Big Give website from 1-8 December will be doubled by match funding.  Watch out for further information on how to do this!
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