By Katherine Roux in Kenya
The taxi driver asked me with intense concern: “How is it there, in the drought-affected areas?” He goes on to explain why people are suffering in his country, and what the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) is going to do to help.
This encounter is a reflection of something bigger taking place in the country as a result of the current drought. In the past few weeks, the nation has pulled together in a remarkable show of solidarity to help those in need, and the KRCS is at the heart of it all.
The KRCS recently launched a campaign titled, ‘Kenyans for Kenya’ together with businesses, corporations and media outlets. In less than three weeks, the campaign has raised approximately five million US dollars.
Abbas Gullet, Secretary General of the KRCS said the future was disappearing for many people and it was time to take a stand. “In the drought-affected areas, the condition of these people is just unacceptable. We cannot be proud of ourselves with this current situation,” he said.
Kenyans for Kenya aims to raise money that the KRCS will use to deliver immediate food, water and health assistance to those suffering from the drought. Funding will also support long-term initiatives, in order to reduce vulnerability of communities to future droughts.
In the first 12 hours of the campaign, people in the country donated nearly 200,000 US dollars through mobile phone banking. Donations have been received from people who are among the most vulnerable themselves: a woman selling pineapple by the side of the road donated 1,000 Kenya shillings, and a father who adopted five HIV/AIDS orphans and lives in one of Nairobi’s worst slums donated 10 cents. Together with members of his church, they proudly gathered 10 dollars for the appeal.
The spirit of humanity in this nation is reflected in these individual actions and generous donations. It also demonstrates the trust Kenyans have in their own National Society.
In a nation that was torn apart by ethnic and political violence just three years ago, it is an impressive, symbolic step forward. Kenyans have transcended political, economic and social barriers to stop the unnecessary suffering of their own people.
The campaign declares: ‘This is our Kenya. It is simply time for all to come aboard; because there has never been a better time to be Kenyans, for Kenya.’