Haunted by ghost of post-election violence, woman helps the needy

Eunice Nganga serving food to the Elderly at Shabaab Social hall in Nakuru on ‎June ‎1, ‎2022. [Harun Wathari,  Standard]

Cyliatina Asoya, 70, a person living with disability, depends on well-wishers to feed her two grandchildren whom she lives with at Rhonda estate in Nakuru.

A smile cuts across her face as she leaves Shabaab Social Hall carrying a loaf of bread and half a litre of orange juice. Asoya says she left her home at 9am and walked to the centre with a promise to the two children that she would be back with goodies.

“The loaf of bread will serve the three of us tonight and tomorrow morning after which I will wait on well-wishers to get a meal or we go hungry,” she says.

Asoya is among 100 needy people who benefit from the generosity of a woman who has been feeding destitute families in Nakuru’s slum areas.

Divya Shah, 55, says she started donating food in 2007 during the post-election violence period. 15-years later, she is still doing it.

A victim of the post-election violence herself, Divya says she fled from their Kitale home after violence erupted and found herself at Nakuru ASK grounds where she stayed for a day. She says  her relatives living in Nakuru learned that she had fled there and accommodated her.

While at the camp, she came face to face with the problems people were facing, marking the beginning of her journey to assist the needy.

“We were displaced during the post-election violence and a friend hosted us. We had no extra clothes. Later while at the ASK grounds in Nakuru I was disturbed by what I went through. I spoke with my family who supported my idea of offering them food,” she says.

“I would wake up early in the morning to prepare food and then go to the showground and give the food to displaced persons. It was not easy at the time with the tension, but I managed to offer them the little food I had,” she adds.

Initially, Divya would offer the families a packet of milk but due to the rising prices and frequent shortages, she substituted it with juice. Divya also gives wheelchairs to people living with disabilities.

The mother of one said that she does not count the amount of food and wheelchairs she has distributed to the needy.

“Every Thursday I make sure I target 100 persons with a goody bag containing rice, soap, oil, sanitary pads, and toiletries among other essentials for the elderly and people living with HIV and AIDS,” she says.

Her entry to the social hall is always received with smiles. With the help of her house girl, Divya distributes the food saying if given another job, she would still choose to be a housewife and help people.

Nakuru East chairperson of PWDs, Job Shisoka, says Divya’s donations have motivated members to participate in their weekly support meeting.

“It has motivated the members to attend meetings every Thursday, we eat the food or snacks and take the remaining to our families, she has really blessed us,” he says.

Just like Divya, Eunice Nganga is another philanthropist who has been giving food to the elderly every Monday since 2020. Ms Nganga, a mother of two, says she began giving food to the homeless elderly after the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country.

“At the time many businesses were closed, one day while I was heading to my rented house I saw a frail and emaciated elderly man, I noticed it was due to lack of food, I bought some bread and gave him,” she says.

As she left, the image of the frail man stuck in her mind, forcing her to think of a way to help the elderly.

“I knew where they lived, so I went to talk to them and agreed that I will be cooking once a week. It was a risk with the rate the pandemic was spreading but I observed the protocol put in place by the ministry of health,” Eunice adds.

At first, she received only five elders, then 18, and since then the number has continued to rise to the current 200 elderly and PWDs whom she supports.

Eunice’s journey has not been easy, but, as she says, “due to the love for the elderly I chose to sacrifice, they have no families to take care of them.”