Washing Hands Not Possible for Marginalized Artisans In Kenya

Water Pump in Kipsongo Slum Controlled By Water Mafia

Wash you hands they said to avoid the coronavirus.  Distance yourself at least 6 feet from each other.  

Washing your hands regularly is listed as the top way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on both the CDC and WHO websites. In my condo I have plenty of soap, 2 bathrooms, a kitchen, 2 outdoor faucets and hand sanitizer. Many people take it for granted that you can easily wash your hands or have access to hand sanitizer if you can't readily wash your hands. 

What if you can’t wash your hands? At all. Or buy soap regularly.  That's what the artisans of Baskets and Beads are faced with on a daily basis. They are working on getting the basic amount of water to cook and hope they have food for tomorrow.  Where they live has no running water, no kitchens, no bathrooms.  The homes are mud huts made from mud and cow dung with a tin roof and either a dirt floor or a concrete slab made from rocks mostly. The huts are very close together.  There is limited electricity and not much room.  Typically an entire family lives in one.  Most of our ladies have 4-6 kids.  Some have less and some have 7 or one of our ladies has 10 kids including a newborn. 

Mud hut in Kipsongo Slum in Kitale Kenya

The pump pictured above is one of only 3 water pumps in Kipsongo and the only one that works. This one was taken over by what I call a "water mafia" inside the slum. If you look close you can see a metal chain hanging from the pump handle.  That is used to lock it up after it's been used.  

There’s speculation that the other two pumps were disabled to make this the only water source in Kipsongo. There is no proof of that but it limits the availability of water.  We are working with the organization that put in the pumps to get them repaired and working again.  The water mafia charges people for water so most can’t get it here because they can’t afford to pay and have to go to the river with buckets to carry back to cook with. 

They barely have enough water to cook with let alone wash with so washing their hands is out of the question.  What’s the solution for marginalized communities like Kipsongo?  

We continue to provide food packs almost monthly which includes some soap but no water. The Baskets and Beads Kenya women live is a very high risk area for the virus. At this writing the cases are under 200 but steadily climbing.  Travel into and out of Nairobi has been halted along with a few other counties including Mombasa where the port is and other areas around that area.  These areas are far from Kitale where the Kipsongo slum is located.  

sustainability food packs for empowering women in a slum

Unfortunately there is no government help. Hand sanitizer isn’t available there so we couldn't even buy it if we wanted to.  We are always open to more sponsors for our food pack program that will help us buy food and soap so at least our ladies and their families will be able to eat during this time and in the future until our Fair Trade business produces sustainability for them with sustainable income.

To find out more about the double high five program visit our non profit page here:


1 comment

  • Keep at it Eldonna. God has placed you in a special area on earth to help his children. Lean on him with all your faith and he will surely guide you where you need to go.

    Kevin Pierce

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