The PACK Initiative
A popular slogan among humanitarian organizations from the Global North working in Africa to alleviate the multiple pandemics associated with the Corona Virus Disease COVID 19is: ‘We are in this together’.The Government of Kenya has adopted the slogan as it continue to issue and enforce common guidelines toward prevention and management of COVID-19: Stay at home; keep social distance; wash hands with soap and running water or use sanitizers; wear a face mask whenever in public places; and so on.However,reality suggests that we are not in this together COVID 19 and adherence (and lack of) to the Government guidelines has not only exposed but worsened the gap between the rich and the poor especially in urban settings. Families living in big houses with big ‘well-manicured’ compounds inside gated communities have installed running water and sanitizers at their gates, facilities that nobody uses because every other person drives in and out of the gate that is efficiently manned by security personnel; they have bottles of sanitizers and spare face masks everywhere – in their cars, in their houses, in their handbags; in their pockets; they have stocked enough food and toilet paper to last them a year; and they continue to work behind computers in their houses!
Compare this with families who live in informal settlements in congested one-roomed shelters without running water; who cannot afford a mask for every member of their households so they share – whoever is going out takes the available masks; and who must go out every day to look for work as they earn from hand to mouth. No. We are not in this together.
Within these families are even more vulnerable populations- adolescent boys and girls. Ordinarily, adolescents spend much of their time in school under the watchful eye and care of teachers. With schools closed, thanks to COVID-19, adolescents in urban informal settlements are idle and trapped in one-roomed shanties with similarly idle adults. The result is obvious: sexual violence, and enrolment of adolescents into criminal activities and drug abuse. This is manifested in high incidences of adolescent rape and defilement, teenage pregnancies, drug abuse and involvement of adolescents in crime.
The African Character Initiation Programme (ACIP), a community based and community participatory programme which accompanies children through adolescence into responsible adulthood through provision of knowledge, skills, values and mentorship to build their confidence and self-esteem, wishes to accompany adolescent boys and girls from Kijiji through the COVID season. Kijiji is an informal settlement in Eldoret town, in Uasin Gishu County of Kenya. The initative to accompany these adolescents is called the participatory Action for self-empowerment of the Community in Kijiji
(The PACK Initiative) has the following objectives:
1. Provide a monthly platform through which adolescent boys and girls from Kijiji can share their experiences in the context of COVID-19
2. Continually identify the needs of adolescent boys and girls during and post-COVID and in consultation with other stakeholders, see how best these needs may be met
3. To continually mobilize ACIP Alumni and people of good will to seize available opportunities to continually meet the needs of the adolescents during and post COVID-19
Towards meeting this objective, ACIP invited its alumni be part of the project by volunteering to become ‘ACIP Champions in the land of Champions’ and serve in the initiative in any of the following ways:
i) Sharing innovative ideas on how best to accompany the adolescents of Kijiji
ii) Offering their time and resources to meet the needs of the adolescents
iii) Mobilize people of good will to support the needs of adolescents in Kijiji.
On 20th October 2020, the ACIP, in partnership with the Education for Life programme of the Catholic Diocese of Eldoret, launched the PACK initiative at Kijiji in Hill School area, Eldoret. The event took place at the Redeemed Gospel Church in Kijiji between 10am and midday with about 80 adolescents from Kijiji attending. Seven (7) ACIP alumni attended alongside all the five founder members of the ACIP. All Government directives for COVID prevention were strictly observed.
The key activity at the launch was listening to adolescent boys and girls from Kijiji share on their experiences through the ongoing COVID -19 season. The adolescents were divided into 4 groups by age and sex. They then discussed their experiences in the groups and reported back at plenary.
The first batch of nine (9) ‘ACIP Champions in the land of Champions’ (in short ACIP Champs) was unveiled and among them five winner winners of an ACIP ideas competition (on how best to engage Kijiji adolescents) awarded various prizes. The nine champions include the following:
1. Eliud K
2. Sharlyne Cheptoo
3. Clare Wahome
4. Joshua Kiprop
6. Obadiah R
7. Claire Were
8. Kevin K
We congratulate each of these 9 ACIP Champs and invite other ACIP alumni to join ACIP in this noble course.
• ACIP would like to thank all the alumni who responded to the ACIP call for ideas by submitting great ideas. Together with the alumni and other partners, we hope to implement many if not all of these ideas.
• Thanks to the ACIP Champs for volunteering to do various activities in organizing the event and at the event and for their brilliant ideas
• Thanks to all ACIP alumni for continued association with ACIP. Ou keep ACIP strong and relevant.
• Thanks to ACIP foundersFounder Members for donating masks to all the adolescents present.
• Thanks to Pastor Lucy for hosting us at the Redeemed Gospel Church in Kijiji.
• Thanks to the Education for Life Department of the Catholic Diocese of Eldoret for donating sanitary towels and offering all the adolescents a delicious lunch.
• Above all, we thank God from whom all good things come.
Thank you everyone. God bless you.