Kimlea College is located on the lush green slopes of Tigoni, in Kiambu County, on the outskirts of Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi. It is the place where the largest quantity of tea is produced, exported all over the world; in the area there are large factories for first processing, before it is sold for further processing and packaging. Tea harvesting is labour-intensive as it is done manually in Kenya. Most of the workers live in the area, for comfort and safety, and come from low-income families: the wages from working on the plantations are sufficient for mere subsistence.
“Kimlea College in Tigoni assists the locals in various ways through its many community activities. Although it is not involved in agricultural initiatives, the Institute has always organized literacy courses for adults, in which a large number of agricultural workers participate: over the years, stable relationships have been established and different are the initiatives carried out to promote an integral development of people“.
When Covid-19 hit the country, everyone was affected in one way or another. Tea growers were severely damaged by the blockade of travel and the decline of the international market. The widespread global fear of processing goods and products from other countries due to the risk and uncertainties of the virus led to the closure or reduction of operations at most factories. ) “The closure of borders has blocked trade between countries as well as internal travel, severely affecting agricultural workers and their families who, from one day to the next, have found it difficult to secure a daily meal“.
“Kimlea College, established in 1992 to contribute to the socio-economic promotion of women, has gained the trust of surrounding communities over time. During the period of greatest crisis due to Covid, Francisca Gikandi, director, responded to the emergency by activating a special program to assist the families most in difficulty. A team was created within the College to find effective ways to sustainably help the families most affected. A plan has been developed to involve all neighbors in helping the families most in need to overcome the pandemic. Not only financial help, but any kind of help was needed with the idea that everyone would donate what they could. It was a period of great sharing not only of basic necessities: people shared their suffering and concerns. A system of equitable distribution of the scarce resources available was developed, so as to avoid waste and inefficiency. The problem of ensuring physical distancing has been overcome by using existing stores and the local network as a means of communication to reach the beneficiaries. The stores have been authorized to operate according to strict guidelines and therefore, ensuring the safety of people. Gender collection was done on a weekly basis – from mid April to mid June 2020 – to avoid waste and misuse“.
At the same time, Kimlea College hosts groups of young people from abroad every year for volunteer experiences: students spend time with the local community, learning about different lifestyles and helping to do easy but useful jobs. “In 2019, in particular, the College hosted a group of Spanish students who, on the occasion of this emergency and despite the fact that Spain was one of the most affected economies in the world, decided to take action and promote a fundraising campaign to support the families of Tigoni“.
“This is what could be called a “partnership for good”, where different actors in the community work together for the good of all. The members of the Tigoni community, who come together to ensure the well-being of those most affected by the pandemic, have shown everyone that it is possible to work for the good of all, without leaving anyone behind“. A simple gesture, but it is the sum of simple gestures that changes the world for the better.
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