Eva Jefw and Esther Kombe make facemasks for the Mothers of the Forest

Kenya Moves to Facemasks

A month ago, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus – an Ethiopian and the World Health Organisation’s first African head – during a virtual press conference said: “Africa should wake up, my continent should wake up to the coronavirus threat and prepare for the worst. In other countries, we have seen how the virus actually accelerates after a certain tipping point, so the best advice for Africa is to prepare for the worst and prepare today,” 

President Kenyatta decreed his first clampdown of movement to citizens earlier this month and many said the nighttime curfew he put in place from 7pm-5am, was a precursor to heavier restrictions yet to come.

Watch our latest ’60 Seconds’ broadcast below to find out how Eva Jefa, our representative on the ground in Kenya, is leading the way and helping the local tree planting communities get through the Covid-19 crisis.

How Your Donations are Helping

Usually, our funding is focused on tree planting but with the current restrictions in place, moving around freely is becoming more difficult. Until such time as everyone can get back to normal, we’re standing right beside our charitable objects and taking care of the amazing people who are working hard to get trees in the ground in Kenya, with aid to buy food and clean water.

Many of our tree planting beneficiaries live in remote areas in Kenya and we’re getting funds directly to them via mPesa, a mobile phone-based money transfer service. On March 17th, in response to the Covid crisis, Safaricom declared that for 90 days, they would waver the usual fees for all mPesa transactions of 1,000 Ksh or less (around £8). It’s part of a wider plan to increase mobile money usage and reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19 through the physical handling of cash.

Phone showing Safaricom M-PESA
Phones are mitigating the spread of Covid-19
Picture credit: Fiona Graham / WorldRemit

According to Reuters Nairobi recently, Safaricom, Kenya’s top telecoms operator, reported a 70% surge in data usage – that doesn’t surprise us at all. Phones offer a critical gateway for communication between our partners in Kenya and our head office in the UK.

The Mothers and the Masks

WhatsApp was also the way we shared YouTube videos showing how to sew government approved facemasks. Last week, Eva and Esther Kombe, the first female chair of the Boré Green Umbrella – the cooperative that organises our tree planting and classroom building – spent several days doing just that.

We’re all breathing a sigh of relief that these amazing women are taking the lead to protect their communities using the skills they’ve nurtured since being in the Mothers of the Forest.

Eva starts distributing the masks

STOP PRESS: from Boré

Michael Jefwa, Headmaster at the Gracious Children’s Centre in Boré has just informed us: “Covid 19 is still threatening many people’s lives. The only good news is that since the government initiated the county-to-county lockdown for the last three weeks, Kilifi County has not registered any new case of coronavirus infection. This at least makes our people more disciplined in mitigating the spread of the disease.”

The Team

NB: Our Covid-19 Appeal is enabling us to keep a lifeline of vital funds heading to planting communities in Kenya. Thank you for every penny you continue to put in Word Forest’s pot. You’re saving lives and the planet.

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