2020 continues to rock the globe in an imaginable way. Women being at the center of it, struggling to keep afloat amid this pandemic when it comes to the community, their families and their sources of income. Women of Faith networks in the country have taken up activities to sensitize and create awareness on issues that are affecting communities during this pandemic period.
The Kwale Women of Faith network on the 11th and 12th June from 10.30am to 3pm took to the streets with a public address system, banners as well as posters to actively create awareness among the people of Msambweni sub-County and Matuga sub-County. The event was flagged off by the area village elders who graced the events. This culminated in distributing of masks and sanitizers to the communities.
On the other side of the country on a beautiful morning, the women of Isiolo Faith network were creating awareness of this dreaded pandemic at Kiwanjani and Bula Besa. During their meeting the people listened keenly, hanging to every single word that the women were telling them. They asked questions and eagerly wanted to know more about the directives given by the ministry of Health and how as a community they can observe and implement the guidelines.
“The fact that people listened, asked questions and did not leave was a clear sign that this was important to them and by extension important to their families. In normal circumstances they would have walked away citing being busy, but this time round they stayed and listened”, Halima Golicha, Chairlady Isiolo Interfaith Network.
They received masks and sanitizers that the women distributed with a promise to keep observing all the guidelines given.
Back at the Coast area of the Country, the Mombasa Women of Faith Network held a coordinated activity which started at Free-town slum; Nyali sub-County and was followed the next day by a visit to the Amzon slum, Mvita sub-County. The chief and the village elders joined the sensitization group. There was an overwhelming support from the County Government which played a key role in propelling the Community COVID-19 sensitization activity by the women. The Mombasa Women of Faith went a step further to sensitize these communities using the Swahili and Mijikenda languages, needless to say this enhanced the delivery of the messages on COVID-19.
The Baringo women of faith network weren’t left out, they held their 2 day sensitization activities at Kabarnet and Marigat towns. Marigat being a town where people from all walks of life come to meet; whether it is people from Timboroa (which is partly a very dry area) or, East Pokot, they come to trade and visit. It is generally a central place for Baringo residents. On 1st and 2nd July the women of Baringo County took up banners, posters and a public address system and went to the streets. They moved around the market places, streets and stopped people on the roads to enlighten them on the importance of following the directives given by the Ministry of health.
“No other group has done any sensitization activity and it is a major step for the faith community especially women of faith network in Baringo to reach out to the people and create awareness on COVID-19. It has increased visibility of the network and at the same time created a safe place for our community through teaching them how to follow the guidelines and directives as given by the government and empowering them,” said Veronicah Kipsang, Baringo Chairlady Interfaith Network.
It has been almost four months since the pandemic was announced in Kenya; and despite the increase of numbers in the country people have relaxed on obeying the guidelines as stipulated thus the need to keep on creating awareness in communities. These activities involved different stakeholders in the counties and also played a key role in enhancing interfaith relations; women from different religious backgrounds jointly worked together in creating COVID-19 awareness.
COVID 19 is a test to all sectors in our community, socially and economically. It is a test of our humanity, of how far as a society we can connect and reach out to each other. As women of Faith Networks continue to target people in their communities, sensitizing and creating awareness, it is our responsibility and our role in curbing this pandemic.
By Mary Ndulili