They say selfless living is the art of life and for some Kenyan heroes, Charity surely begins at home.
It is the story of many Kenyan well-wishers who have come out during the calamity to stand by their country through the coronavirus windstorm.
So far, over 179 people have been infected by the dangerous disease, leaving a trail of 6 fatalities.
Globally, at least 1.5 million people have tested positive for the deadly virus that has killed over 83,000 since the first case in Wuhan China on December 31st 2019.
This situation has however, introduced Kenyans to their true friends.
Several well-wishers have continued to show their support in form of money, sanitary facilities, and foodstuffs while some even waived rent for their distraught tenants.
On Monday, April 6 2020, the Cooperative bank set the pace for other financial institutions by donating a whopping 100 million shillings to help in the coronavirus war.
“The Board of Directors and Staff of Co-op Bank is honored to support with a key cash contribution of Ksh.100 million, preferably to be allocated towards purchase of critical ventilator,” said Co-op Bank’s Managing Director Gideon Muriuki.
Muriuki also reminded Kenyans to consolidate their efforts during these tough times.
“This is a critical moment for our country. The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic is the biggest crisis of our time particularly in the effort to source critical life-saving medical supplies and equipment, especially ventilators that are in short supply globally,” he added.
This comes after the Devki Steel Mills pledged to donate oxygen worth a similar amount to aid public hospitals in containing the pandemic.
The steel company owner Narendra Raval said the donations will be available for collection from their Mombasa, Athi-River and Ruiru plants.
"I hereby confirm the pledge to donate oxygen up to Sh100 million to all government hospitals throughout the country," Mr Raval noted.
Similarly, as the number of patients in the quarantine facilities continue ballooning, Superfoam Mattresses Company donated special hospital mattresses to the Kenyatta National Hospital to ease congestion in the facilities.
The mattresses will be distributed in several quarantine facilities in the country including Mbagathi Hospital, Kenyatta University, Kenya School of Government, Crown Plaza airport, Mombasa beach hotel, La Mada hotel and other new quarantine centres to be opened when numbers of covid-19 patients increase.
“We have donated several special mattresses to the Kenyatta National Hospital to be used in different quarantine facilities in the country,” noted Reuben Nyaberi, HR officer, Superfoam Mattresses.
While thanking the mattress company, The Kenyatta National Hospital Chief Executive Officer Dr Evanson Kamuri also challenged other Kenyans to help.
“The Kenyatta Hospital fraternity thanks Superfoam Limited for this significant gesture, the mattresses donated are specifically designed for the patients and will be distributed across all isolation centres in the country. This will enable the centres and the nation at large in terms of preparedness and readiness to fight the pandemic “Dr Evanson Kamuri - Kenyatta Hospital CEO.
“It is not the quantity that matters but the heart of giving. If we all unite, we will subdue this crisis in the shortest time possible…These are not ordinary mattresses, they are special ones that are water proof and chlorine resistant thus there is no risk of infection,” said Dr Kamuri.
Similarly, Amref Africa in conjunction with the Kenya Breweries Limited and the Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) have launched a robust supply of sanitizing paraphernalia in slums in Nairobi.
The well-wishers have set aside Sh48 million worth of sanitizers for over 400,000 households in the city to help the vulnerable communities living in mostly unhygienic conditions in the shanties.
“We have embarked on a mass donation process in Kibra, Kawangware, Mukuru and Mathare slums respectively. Our efforts aim at reaching as many people as possible educating them, about the coronavirus. We are also giving them face masks, sanitizers and gloves in order to arm them accordingly,” said Meshack Ndirangu, who is the Country Director Amref Health Africa in Kenya.
Because education is power, the well-wishers have also continued to create awareness in the slums by educating people on preventive measures to contain the pandemic.
“We have also educated people in the slums, going door-to-door sensitizing about the importance of washing hands regularly with soap and water, maintaining 1.5 meters social distancing while also practicing safe coughing hygiene by coughing into the elbow, “noted Ndirangu.
Finally, a right to shelter is a basic human right. Having a roof over your head gives a sense of security. Especially during these tough coronavirus pandemic.
Without a job and food, the last thing one can be denied when the 7pm-5am daily curfew in the country is in force is a house.
Many Kenyans are already in panic after some tenants were locked out and others having their roofs removed due to late payment of rent.
This was a case in Nakuru where a landlord tore the roof off his tenant’s one-roomed house over delayed payment of Sh3,500.
“The landlord came to the plot infuriated over delayed rent. He demanded that I pay him the Sh3,500 plus Sh2,000 for April’s rent,” said Mbuhia, 35, a father of two, who lives at Sewage within Nakuru County.
In Eldoret, a similar incident happened where a landlady removed the iron sheets of a tenant’s house due to Sh500 rent arrears.
’’I have been a tenant in this house for five months now and I have always paid my Sh4,000 rent every month. Now, I gave the landlady Sh3,500 and when she told me to pay the remaining balance, I told her I would do it later since I had no money,” lamented Elijah Okumu, a bodaboda operator in Eldoret
However, there have been positive stories of ‘good’ Landlords who have come to understand the situation and have waived rent for their tenants.
Michael Munene a landlord in Kinangop, Nyandarua County, warmed many hearts after he waived two months’ residential houses charges and commercial property rent for his tenants, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We know the Covid-19 has got social-economic impact on everyone, especially low-income-earners who constitute a majority of my tenants,” he said.
His gesture touched many other house owners who followed suit.
William Mureithi also waived rent for his tenants occupying a commercial building in Nakuru town.
“It is not that people are not worried about getting the virus. It is the fear of where to source rent that has made them continue operating normally. Having waived rent, they can now get reprieve until such a time when it shall be safe for them to reopen,” he acknowledged.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), 2019 census report reveals that about 40 per cent of Kenyans live in rental houses.
However, most of those dwelling in rentals are in urban areas, 80 per cent.
In Nairobi for example, 9 out of 10 people are tenants.
In the global arena, philanthropists like the Chinese magnate Jack Ma led by example on the onset of the pandemic by donating protective and medical equipment to all African countries.
“The flight carried 5.4 million face masks, kits for 1.08 million detection tests, 40,000 sets of protective clothing and 60,000 sets of protective face shields,” Ma’s foundation said in a statement. “The faster we move, the earlier we can help.”
On April 6, 2019, the Chinese tech titan and Alibaba founder sent a second batch of aid to the 55 countries in Africa.
Other billionaires such as the Microsoft owner Bill gates and Facebook tycoon Mark Zuckerberg also dipped their hands deep to help in the fight against Covid-19.
These acts of kindness should never go unnoticed, because it is in calamities that true friends and patriots are introduced.