Joseph Kabiru writes:
A trip to Kitui, one of the drought-stricken areas of eastern Kenya, just before Easter was a humbling experience for me; listening to tales of despair and hope from communities enduring the worst drought to hit this region in sixty years.
A drive from Nairobi to Muumoni – two hundred miles east of the Kenyan capital – is a journey through a land of contrasts. The weather in Nairobi, known as a ‘ place of cool waters’, changes in just under an hour’s drive to one of searing heat and dry shrubs.
Kitui was one of the several areas in Kenya where, through your generous support, we were able to assist communities affected by last year’s drought.
John Kitheka, a 64-year-old blind man, is a father of six children. He and his wife Josephine – who also has a disability on her right leg – were among those who benefitted from your generosity.
We arrived at Kitheka’s home at 7:30 in the morning, to escape the punishing heat of the mid-day sun. Their faces lit up as our car drove into their compound; it had been a long time since they had visitors come to their home that early in the morning.
In October last year, Kitheka was among more than 12,300 people who received about £22 as direct cash payment that was targeted at the most vulnerable members of the community. With the money, he bought food and clothes for his family.
Just before Christmas last year, Kitheka received his second payment of £22 and this time, he felt he needed to invest in a more long-term asset. He bought a goat, which he has named CAFOD as an appreciation of the kindness and generosity of CAFOD supporters.
He said: “The drought was very severe last year. We had planted some maize which was destroyed by pests. As a blind man, it was very difficult to fend for my family and the money we received from CAFOD was a godsend. I was able to buy a goat with the second payment, and felt as a sign of appreciation, I should name it CAFOD.”
The goat provides one glass of milk for the family each day, which Kitheka said was enough to make tea for the family. In all, Kitheka and his family, along with 10,000 other families, received just under £70 which has helped them through the difficult drought period.
As we left Kitui, the first rains this year had just begun. Communities here hope the crops will do well this year.
About the author: Joseph Kabiru is CAFOD’s Media and Communications Officer for the East and Horn of Africa.