Celebrated media personality Julie Gichuru is among Kenyans rallying behind one man's campaign to feed Nairobi's poor, who are among the worst hit by the cash crunch occasioned by the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The initiative dubbed 'Save a Fellow Kenyan' was first shared by Pankaj Shah on his Facebook page on Saturday, March 21 and sparked an overwhelming response from Kenyans from all walks of life.
Shah had shared his plan to specifically help low income-earners, who were out of work as a result of the crisis, put food on their tables in five areas; Kibra, Mathare Kariobangi, Kawangware and Embakasi.
He sought the support of well-wishers to supply food hampers worth Ksh 3,000 each, containing several essential food items including flour, beans, cooking oil and milk as well as soap and a box of fresh fruit and vegetables.Part of what is contained in the hampers being distributed by Pankaj Shah's team in Nairobi
The appeal quickly gained traction, attracting donations even as many sought to have more areas around the city included in the program.
Through conversations with members of the team, Kenyans.co.ke established that the group was not a registered organization or charity, but, rather, 'Save a Fellow Kenyan' was a simple initiative by well-meaning Kenyans to ensure families don't sleep hungry during the crisis.
The food hampers are being distributed from three main centres; Mother Teresa Home in Kariobangi, House of Mercy in Huruma and another located within Otiende Estate in Kibra.
"Thank you Pankaj and all those stepping up," Julie wrote in a post as she encouraged Kenyans to get involved and raise awareness on efforts being made to ease the pain brought about by the crisis.
Kenyans have supported the campaign in various ways with some making large individual donations. One Indian lady, for example, donated 20 tonnes of maize flour on Wednesday, March 25.
So far, well over 1,000 hampers have been distributed across the city, with the overwhelming demand offering a look into the dire situation many Kenyans continue to face during the crisis.
"Everyday there is a new learning process for us. The cries of hunger had tears rolling down our cheeks. Some children are beaten to sleep because of no food.
"In Nairobi’s largest slums, the Coronavirus effect is unprecedented. Over 150,000 casual wagers have lost their jobs due to the closure of schools, colleges, government offices, hotels, restaurants, hotels, kiosks, cleaners, sweepers etc," Pankaj wrote on Wednesday, March 25.
A major challenge faced by the team has been compliance with social distancing directives, particularly with people scrambling to get food despite the team's best efforts to keep things organized.
"We spent 3 hours in Mathare slums. A crowd of 400 mothers and many little children were awaiting at the gates patiently for 2 hours to receive just one loaf of bread," Pankaj shared.Members of Pankaj Shah's team distribute loaves of bread in Mathare, Nairobi on March 25, 2020Some of the packaged food hampers pictured below ready for distribution
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