For most, if not all, of us 2020 was a year that irrevocably changed our world. Our lives and the work of our charity have been upended by the impact of Covid-19. With our bi-annual large clinics cancelled, we have grappled with how to deliver quality eye care to the people of Northern Kenya who desperately need it, more so now than ever before.
The impact of Coronavirus isn’t just in the here and now, the impact on livelihoods and the economy has been devastating already, with long-term effects predicted. After a few turbulent months prior to Covid-19, Kenya had already experienced the crises of locusts destroying crops, and therefore food production, as well as two destructive floods. The World Bank’s predicted economic growth for Kenya has dropped from 5.9-6% to just 1-1.5%, and 9 out of 10 Kenyans have seen their incomes decrease. The immediate loss of income is problematic enough - added to the fact that so many Kenyans already live-in abject poverty and Covid-19 is predicted to push millions back into poverty. Bishop Edward Buria, Mayor of Meru and Co-Founder of our local partner organisation Edfri International, informed us that “Things are very difficult in Kenya, the effects of the pandemic are big and many people are struggling to even have a meal on their tables."
The beauty of this nation is one of its great selling-points for tourism, yet without this vital sector contributing to the economy, there has been an estimated loss of $1 billion (£738 million) – an overwhelming figure which will also have long-term consequences on Kenyan people themselves and their futures. This includes the likes of so many Kenyan people who are not only our patients and global neighbours, but our good friends and partners.
In light of this, we have taken the approach of adapting and improvising to overcome these many challenges. You might have seen our recent infomercials that are being televised across Kenya as a way to provide essential eye care advice (we strongly believe that prevention is best as 80% of eye care diseases are preventable or treatable). Thanks to the great relationship we have with our local partner, Edfri International, we’ve been able to spread these messages far and wide – something we’ve never done before!
In addition, due to the impossibility of running our large pop-up clinics, we see the need to speed up our plans for a permanent eye care clinic in Meru. It has always been our vision to set up a permanent clinic in the centre of the community for the benefit of the community. The events of 2020 have accelerated this goal! Without our traditional clinics, too many people are going without the vital eye care they need and whilst we are endeavouring to keep ongoing patient referrals, a permanent base is the most effective way we can continue to love and serve our Kenyan neighbours.
To that end, we are pushing our plans for the clinic forward – which involves a lot of fundraising! We are well on our way, but we have a while to go yet (the estimated costs are £584k). While ambitious, we believe that together we can achieve this, and we’re asking you to partner with us in this adventure.
If you would like to find out more about our plans for the clinic, please check out this link here - www.seekenya.org/permanent-clinic. If you have an idea for fundraising or would like to donate, please get in touch with the team at firstname.lastname@example.org who would love to chat more with you.
Written by Lizzi Joyner