By Henry Iheanacho
A pastor, during early stages of the coronavirus pandemic became the saviour of many children in Matopeni slums, Kayole estate, who were on the verge of going hungry after schools were closed in March 2020 following confirmation of the first COVID-19 case. As a result of the lockdown, many of the children were left wondering what would happen to their daily meals.
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A majority of the kids from low-income Kenyan families, were heavily relying on their daily school meals to survive as most of them are not assured of a meal at home. Observing their hardships in life, Pastor Steve Mbugua, the clergyman of a local church started a feeding programme for the children, NTV reports.
Through his Faith Rescue Network, Pastor Mbugua collected some contributions from other well-wishers and decided to feed the children on a daily basis. “Some of the parents lost their jobs, even those who were their teachers are also struggling, some come from families where the parents are alcoholics, we even realized others have been surviving on their own and collecting food from the garbage,” said Mbugua.
The clergyman said at first, they used to feed at least 400 children every Saturday but that number increased drastically to over 1,000 as days went by.
“We started this feeding programme three years ago and at that time we used to feed the children on every Saturday and when COVID-19 struck, the numbers rose from 400 to over 1,000, realizing the numbers were increasing, we decided to feed them daily, “We are located at a very strategic place because we are surrounded by so many slums, some children come from as far as Njiru, Spring Valley, Soweto and some are from children’s homes that were closed down,” narrated Mbugua.
The man of God also said he was forced to increase the ratio of food every child was entitled to after realizing some of them were fully dependent on the food served at the centre.
The children are also allowed to visit the centre with more than one food container for them to carry enough food for themselves and their siblings. The pastor said due to the ever-increasing numbers, sometimes they are forced to serve the children with bread and milk especially when they run out of meals.
“It is very difficult to tell a hungry child to go back because the food is over, we usually buy them packets of milk and bread at least to avoid them going hungry”.