Friday 13 th – Abbie and I left for Kenya via Dubai with bags full of donations including pens, pencils, footballs and books for the kids at Ndi’ini. We were slightly uneasy leaving but confident the virus was not going to impinge on our travels – how wrong we were…
Saturday 14 th – We left Dubai at 10.25am and finally arrived in Nairobi at 14.35, as disembarked, our temperatures were taken, and it soon became clear that the virus had arrived in Kenya too. That evening we found out that one case of virus had been confirmed.
Sunday 15 th – We decided we would try and do as much as possible in an ever-changing environment. Beginning that morning we drove to Alvin at Mbugiti Secondary School which is a good hour away up in the hills beyond Thika. I was anxious to see Alvin as the school had not been in touch re the receipt of fees and I had not seen Alvin since the year before. When we arrived, the bursar came out along with the principal and stood as far a way from us as possible! We got the receipts etc. and managed to see Alvin and see how he was getting on. He was delighted to see us and became quite emotional. He is so grateful for the support he is receiving and continues to make great progress. He is now in Year 2 and top of his class in English, chemistry and Biology. As we travelled back towards Thika, it was announced that the Kenyan government was closing all schools beginning with day schools on Monday. We now knew it would be impossible to visit Ndiini the next day so bitterly disappointed and worried, we changed direction and headed straight to the airport to change our flights as it was a 9 hour wait on the phone to Emirates Airlines. The airport was quiet, and we changed the flights to Monday afternoon with no issues. Already you could feel the change in the atmosphere – uneasy and still. We got back and started to pack, hoping to see Gladys the next day to give her the donations.
Monday, 16 th March – We got up early and contacted Gladys first thing to see if she could meet us. Unfortunately, she couldn’t as her sister was sick. So, she said drop them at the house. First, we decided to go to Ndiini (Gladys lives near the school) to see if Jane, the cook was there maybe tidying up even if the school was closed. Jane is a single mother and her job cooking the school meals is her only income. We both really wanted to give her the stipend she gets whenever I go to Kenya of €100. We arrived at the school only to see it was totally boarded up. So, taking a chance, we asked our driver John would he give the money to Jane, he happily accepted, and I made him promise to give it and also said I would find out if he didn’t…! Delighted to say he gave Jane her money and sent me a video of a delighted Jane saying thank you and crying with happiness and relief- €100 will go a long, long way for her and she’ll really need it. We then went to find Gladys’ house and after 30 frantic minutes, we eventually found it and left all the donations in her care, then we sped off to a deserted, eerie airport to catch our flight.
It was an emotional, strange and unsettling trip and I’m so glad we managed to make it out there and check in with at least one of the scholarship students, give the donations and make sure Jane got her money. Kenya has now placed a curfew from 7pm until 5am. Kenya is woefully underprepared to deal with the Corona Virus and has only 518 critical care beds. With a population of almost 50 million, there is no doubt that many will die.