Kenya: Group in Meru Uses Zoom to Raise Funds to Help Needy Villagers

Members of a rural community in Uruku Location, Meru County are now using video conferencing to mobilise resources to help those among them affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Using Zoom virtual meetings, the residents have fundraised for the elderly, disabled and the poor in the four villages where they have supplied masks, sanitisers and food to 130 people since April.

Through Uruku Community Welfare Fund, residents contribute money, farm produce or other food items which are then channelled to the needy.

LOST JOBS

The group's chairman Paul Mwenda Ikiara said they came up with the idea after realising that most members of the community, majority of whom work in the nearby Nkubu town, lost their sources of income after businesses were closed.

They have been holding regular online meetings, mainly targeting residents working in distant places, to help cater for the poor back at home.

Uruku Chief Dorothy Kinyua says farm produce, whose target market were hotels, no longer fetches good money due to lack of buyers.

She said the area also has many disabled children who used to benefit from school feeding programmes and now have to be cared for at home.

ACCOUNTABILITY

The group has opened an account with Times-U Sacco where donors send money directly and the expenditure posted on social media to enhance accountability.

"We started the group in April after the effects of the lockdown started biting. We started by distributing masks and sanitisers to the vulnerable and later started offering food," said Mr Ikiara.

Group treasurer Zipporah Kiambi, who participates in various community initiatives, said she was touched to see people giving out bananas, cabbages and other farm produce to help alleviate the suffering of their village mates.

"The problem is dire since people have lost livelihoods. We appeal to our people who hail from this area and are working [elsewhere] to help us reach the poor among us," she said.

Mr Dennis Muthomi, a youth leader, said most of the hard hit Are people who relied on small scale businesses such as selling of second-hand clothes.

"Majority of them work in hotels, or sell clothes at the market but now those income avenues have dried up since they are closed," he said.

Among the beneficiaries is 115-year-old Salome Kanampiu, who, despite her age, lives alone.

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