Madris was already facing so much hardship. Drought coming time and time again because of a changing climate. Daily struggles to feed her family and get them to school. Locusts attacking what meagre crops she could grow. And this was all before Covid arrived in Kenya.
Last year, Madris and her children Joy-Faith and Alex became known to thousands of households around Ireland. You heard about the challenges this family in Kenya were facing because of the intense drought, you heard about the strength of Madris to keep on going to provide for her family against the odds, and you responded with incredibly generosity.
When Covid hit Kenya in 2020, the Kenyan Government introduced strict measures to contain the spread of the virus. This included shutting down businesses, schools, restricting movement, and introducing curfews and enforcing social distancing rules.
For Madris, this was a huge challenge. Although the rains were better this year, she still relies on providing casual labour in people’s homes to earn enough money. With markets closed she wasn’t able to sell what little produce she could grow on her small farm.
Schools closed for an entire year. This increased the costs for Madris as usually they would receive free lunches in school to encourage them to attend school daily. Now Madris had to take care of her children from morning to evening and feed them.
“In the first few months, I was struggling to choose whether to buy masks for my children to prevent them from getting the covid 19 virus, or to buy food to prevent them from hunger” Madris told me when I met her this month. These are the stark choices faced by so many people across the world affected by Covid, where there are little government safety nets for people who lose their incomes.