When Namanga town was marked as the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak by government, area residents seemingly thought their fate had been “sealed”.
The number of people being affected by coronavirus pandemic every day shot up, schools closed down and the county was at the same time locked.
As the working class, mainly teachers in private schools, remained jobless bringing food on the table became an uphill task.
Parents started to be wary of their idle children at home. As the parents set out to look for menial jobs, the security of their children was not assured.
The pandemic had become real. The border town had been turned into a ghost town as Kenya and Tanzania could not agree on the best practices of screening cross-border drivers.
The normally buzzing border town went into slumber, businesses were run down to their knees as life became extremely hard to bear.
As every parent was concerned about the fate of their children, who had been virtually imprisoned at home, Matapato South Art Sculpture director, Joseph Muigai, walked out of his way in a bid to address the fate of the children.
“Everyone was stressed. Children were equally stressed in their homes, and I told myself, I must do something,” said Muigai.
Muigai said he had read a story of Esther Nando in the newspapers that had inspired him. Nando comes from Namanga but also lives in Nairobi.
Nando nature talent among the youth. She has, for many years, played the role of inspiring the youth in her home area of Namanga by way of creating jobs.
Muigai works with Kenya Forest Service and he is based in Namanga. He started looking for Nando, and after finding her, the two put their heads together in a bid to find a solution to the already bored children at home.
Idea Was Born
An idea was born. The two, Muigai and Nando, looked for a place to start sculpture work for the children, who are aged between 8 and 15 years.
“We came up with the idea and sold it to the parents of more than 15 children we are now dealing with at our workshop. The parents agreed,” says Nando.
Muigai said after recruiting the children, they had to look for a volunteer teacher to train the kids.
“We have made several sculptures that are now ready for the market. They are beautifully designed and the moment the markets open up, these children will be able to enjoy the earning on top of the free training skills they are getting,” said Muigai.
Teacher Michael Kimanzi says he is happy working with the children and he is also impressed by the way they are learning fast to work with waste materials and come up with “wonderful sculptures”.
One of the sculptures, that of a zebra took them 2 and a half months to make and costs about Sh150,000 in the market.
We talked to some of the parents; Catherine Mbula, Irene Mukenyo, and Margret Naserian and they said they support the project fully.
“We are part and parcel of this project brought to us by Nando and Mungai. Our children would be indulged in criminal activities by now,” said Mbula.
Now Nando and Mungai are appealing to the county government and any other Good Samaritan to support the group in financing the purchase of cement and other materials.
Most of the materials being used in the sculpturing are waste.
“We need our county government to recognise us and even purchase some of the goodies coming out of this group. These children require support and encouragement,” said Mungai.