The struggle of civil servants in the city of Nairobi to dispose of plastic wastes inspired Nzambi Matee, a young engineer in Kenya. Matee responded to the challenge by starting the Gjenge Makers to transform plastic wastes into durable paving materials. Matee collects polyethylene and polypropylene that local plants cannot process any further and converts them into various paving stones.
Since the company began in 2018, it has recycled nearly 20 metric tons of plastic waste and has created jobs for 110 people.
This innovation did not only address the challenge of disposing of plastic wastes. It created employment, thus reducing poverty for the 110 employees.
Seventy-nine elderly members of Kiboino were provided with food, masks, and cleaning supplies during the first several months of the covid-19 pandemic. This was done by a community member, Stephen Sergon, who now resides in Washington, DC U.S. Kiboino is a very low-income community, and weather conditions exacerbate food insecurity. When the pandemic hit, Stephen says he first thought about his elderly mum’s safety but then remembered other elderly persons with no one to turn to. Stephen then provided the money. And through the community elders and the village storekeeper’s coordination, the elderly members were identified and given the supplies.
The elderly and vulnerable members of the community had food to last them for several days. They also had face masks to protect them from the coronavirus as well as cleaning supplies to boost hygiene. Besides, these elders talked about feeling happy and cared for by the gesture. This was expressed in the videos that were taken and shared. In addition, purchasing these suppliers from the village store had a positive impact on the village economy.
What one considers to be little or insignificant can mean a lot and makes a huge difference to someone who must choose between buying something to eat or soap. For these vulnerable people in Kiboino village to get soap, food and masks was their biggest joy. They were so gracious that they shed tears of joy.
In the last five months, we (a student led organisation) came together to provide food baskets to mentees families. We decided on redirecting our mentorship project funds at first to covid response, seeing that many of the families were in desperate circumstances with most losing their daily jobs as casual workers. The school counselor, the principal and gate keepers of the area assisted greatly in coming up with the names of the needy students this then facilitated our action in providing monthly food baskets to each family.
So far, we have been able to provide tonnes of food baskets to over 41 families who have an average 5 members living within the home since April to date. We have been able to spread awareness and support each of the families as we check up on their well being when we distribute the foods. Most are hopeful that things will get better while some of the mentees (children) are unsure of their education as schools have been closed with no assurance of opening up again until next year.
I’ve learned that its important to hear the need of the people, at first we thought covid might restrict us in meeting to discuss what the families needed most in terms of foods they eat. Another challenge was most families don’t have phones to be contacted easily, on this we just permanently informed them that we will be distributing the food baskets on first of every month at a particular time (11am) this helped us a lot. We also had to understand how to communicate better in swahili as most parents did not like speaking to us in English.