Fri, 25 Sep 2020

A boy wears a home-made face mask at Bondeni Slum in Nakuru County, Kenya, April 5, 2020. (Xinhua/Sheikh Maina)

The life of Kenyan slum children is taking a turn for the worse since Kenya reported its first COVID-19 case in mid-March as parents are undergoing immense struggles in order to put food on the table.

NAIROBI, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) -- Harriet Achieng is a grandmother taking care of her two grandchildren left behind by her daughter who opted to relocate out of town for greener pastures.

The veteran fishmonger based at Nairobi's Mukuru Kayaba slums confessed that since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Kenya, she has never provided three meals a day to her two grandchildren amid huge losses in her business.

"Recently I had to ask for a leftover ugali (maize flour meal) from my neighbour who was throwing it in the dustbin to quench the hunger my grandchildren were going through," Achieng said.

The elderly lady who lives in a tiny single room with no bed says that life took a turn for the worse since Kenya reported its first COVID-19 case in mid-March.

"Even if I look healthy as I maybe because of my big body, I am hungry inside my stomach, I sometimes have to skip meals the whole day so that my grandchildren can have something to eat," said Achieng.

She said that in the early months of COVID-19, many organizations and well-wishers were giving out donations in the form of food but nowadays when the situation is worse they are nowhere to be seen.

"Sometimes I am forced to lock these children in the house because they might go to every house begging for food," said Achieng.

She said that her asthmatic condition has worsened her plight, adding that sometimes she is forced to remain indoors because of emotional pain.

Maurine Waithera, a ten-year-old pupil at a local elementary school, said that COVID-19 has denied them a chance to play outdoors since all the public playgrounds have been closed.

"We have been forced to play along the corridors or on the staircases because that is the only safe place around, some children go beyond endangering their lives by playing on the roads," said Waithera.

She admitted that she had to skip some meals so that her other siblings can have something to eat amid risk of starvation.

"At school, my stomach was always full because my friends could share with me what they had but not anymore," said Waithera.

She said water has been a scarce commodity in her densely populated neighborhood but was delighted when local authorities started supplying the commodity for free to help ward off infectious diseases.

"I am very happy with the free water because the money we used to buy the commodity can now be used to buy kales for lunch that we used to skip," said Waithera.

Her mother said that reopening of schools, though not in sight, would provide a reprieve to her children amid crowding at home.

"Our houses are small and if you happen to have many children they keep making noise until you feel you can take them somewhere so that you can relax," said Waithera's mother.

Innocent Masaki, head of community policing initiative in Mukuru slums said that parents are undergoing immense struggles in order to put food on the table.

"I have tried my best to enquire about the families that are deprived and provided them with basic needs in conjunction with local charities," said Masaki. ■

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