COVID-19 requires of us the biggest Harambee we have ever undertaken – we have to work together to halt the spread of this virus – we may be physically distancing ourselves but we are coming together in a spirit of solidarity and standing with each other in our efforts to get through this.

COVID-19 Virus

Clean hands, healthy hands – keep hand washing 

As an organisation, Brighter Communities Worldwide are in uncharted territory along with the rest of the world as we respond to the threat posed by COVID-19. There are so many unknowns with this virus and it seems like every day is bringing something new that we need to respond to.

Here is what we do know – 

  • We are an organisation built on integrity, passion and togetherness and these values are going to see us through these uncertain times.    
  • We are an organisation built on the strength of the volunteers across the communities we work with in Kenya who have trained as health workers and facilitators of community based courses like remote emergency care and lifeskills.  
  • In consultation with the Kenyan Ministry of Health, we are preparing to mobilise this network of volunteers to be the ones to lead their friends and neighbours with the facts about COVID-19 and how to protect themselves and their families. This of course will be done noting the requirements around public gatherings and physical distancing.  
  • We know that to fight COVID-19 requires a public health response and our well established partnerships and relationships with the local Ministry of Health, health teams, clinics and hospitals provide a foundation we are working from together to sensitise the community with the correct facts and the information they need.
  • We know that now more than ever before is the time for solidarity, community spirit, personal responsibility and behavioural change to fight this threat to health. Each of us has a part to play and if we do what is asked of us then collectively we can delay the transmission of COVID-19.

Our staff team in Kenya began to prepare for the pandemic as soon as news of the virus began to unfold. They have been reinforcing the importance of handwashing and the correct way to protect and prevent transmission of COVID-19 through our healthy schools programme, menstrual health programme and at all community workshops.

The health and safety of our volunteers, staff and the communities that we work with is our number one priority at this time. We are guided by the governments in Ireland and in the Kenya, the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Ministry of Health, Kenya (MOH). Safeguarding measures have been introduced in Kenya to protect us – schools are closed, there are restrictions to public gatherings, travel is suspended into Kenya and out of Ireland and we are asked to physically distance ourselves from each other.

The Brighter Communities Worldwide offices in Ireland and Kenya are closed until further notice.  In Ireland we can be contacted via email to rosehennessy@brightercommunities.org and by phone +353 86 8744612. In Kenya, we can be contacted by email to kenya@brightercommunities.org and by phone +254723472809

None of us know how long these measures will be in place but at this stage we know it will be months not weeks before things start to get back to normal. There will be huge disruption to delivery of our programmes aside from the potential threat to the health of our staff, partners and the communities whom we work with. Reducing and dealing with the consequences of COVID-19 is our priority now. We stand in solidarity with the communities we work with in Kenya and we will be doing all that we can to support them through this time. We also recognise the impact on our networks and volunteers in Ireland and will seek to provide support as we are able.

Harambee is a Swahili word meaning ‘working together’ and our international volunteers are very familiar with that term. COVID-19 requires of us the biggest Harambee we have ever undertaken – we have to work together to halt the spread of this virus – we may be physically distancing ourselves but we are coming together in a spirit of solidarity and standing with each other in our efforts to get through this.

We will provide updates as we can and will soon announce a campaign to support Brighter Communities Worldwide activities to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the communities in which we work in Kenya.

 

Martin Ballantyne

CEO

 

You will find further details about COVID-19 on the following websites –

https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus

http://www.health.go.ke/covid-19/

https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/protect-yourself.html

https://www.gov.ie/en/news/7e0924-latest-updates-on-covid-19-coronavirus/