It is late morning in Namoruputh Primary School in Turkana, hot and dusty despite the wintertime. The school is close to the border with Uganda, which is lined by a ridge of high mountains on the horizon where rainclouds gather. Behind a classroom, a large satellite dish has been installed, surrounded by a makeshift fence of thorny branches, gathered from the bushes that punctuate the sandy ground.
Inside, teacher Mwangangi begins an unusual science lesson. He draws a diagram of a flower on the blackboard, but instead of telling the children the names of the parts of the flower, or handing out a textbook, he asks them to Google it. The children bend over their distinctive lime-coloured tablets, searching for images with the right information. Cecilia Akai, 13, raises her arm “Teacher, teacher,” she says. He gives her a chalk and she walks to the board, where she writes ‘stigma’ on the correct part of the flower. After naming all the parts of the flower, the teacher asks the children to research their functions and they break into groups, searching and discussing the results.
In the small garden behind Dandora 1 Health Centre, a tent and table has been set up for COVID-19 vaccinations. Health workers sit at the table checking IDs and registering local residents who have turned up to get their jab – a mixture of teachers, health workers and older people. A small queue has formed, with people sitting on a bench or plastic chairs as they await their turn.
Dandora is home to both a densely packed urban community and one of the largest rubbish dumps in Africa. Outside the health centre, the sounds of children playing can be heard, along with boda boda motorbikes and the Friday call to prayers. A large graffiti mural shows a doctor with stethoscope advising residents to wear a mask, wash their hands, and keep physical distance, under the slogan “komesha korona” (stop coronavirus).
12-year-old Diana Anyango lives in Korogocho, the fourth largest informal settlement (or urban slum) in Nairobi, Kenya. It’s a place where people live in close quarters, often without power or access to running water. Makeshift houses constructed from wood and iron are raised precariously two or three floors high. Clothes are hung out to dry on old electricity cables, stretched across narrow alleyways. From a wooden balcony, Diana looks out over the rusted rooftops to the formal houses and tower blocks beyond the settlement. The street below, usually busy with vendors and “boda-boda” motorbikes, is half empty. A few pedestrians walk past wearing face masks.
Buxton Gitimu, 11, lives with his family in Huruma informal settlement, Nairobi. One of his favourite things to do is playing football with his brother Joseph. The boys are very close. Together, they race around a football field at Salama Primary School with their coach, practicing tackles and other moves. Afterwards, they do keepy uppies, counting to see how long they can keep the ball in the air. The football field is normally full of children, but today it is empty because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Continue reading “Children with disabilities learn through sport during COVID-19”→
It is a scorching hot morning in Turkana County, northern Kenya. The ground is dry and sandy, punctuated with small gorse bushes and occasional trees. Tall, thin termite nests point like fingers at the cloudless sky. In some places, dust swirls in miniature whirlwinds. Yellow locusts swarm around the remaining vegetation, stragglers from the recent locust invasion. It seems barely habitable, but people survive here, herding hardy animals like camels and goats, and moving around in search of pasture.
Naipa village, however, is like an oasis in the sandy almost-desert. A solar powered water system pumps groundwater up into overhead tanks on scaffolding, from which it flows down to taps in a school and seven villages. At the tap nearest the pump, a group of women and children have gathered to collect water. The Turkana are tall and striking. In rural areas, they still wear traditional clothing – beautifully coloured and patterned ‘leso’ wraps, headscarfs for balancing water containers and bead necklaces. They smile and laugh as they fill up their buckets and jerrycans. A boy walks past’ leading a line of well-fed camels to the water trough.
It is early morning at Sindo Main Beach in Homa Bay when the fishing boats arrive. The smell of fish is already strong in the air. White egret birds circle and call out, looking to steal a meal. As a new boat arrives, a man wading waist deep in the water shows it where to land. Dozens of women race forward to get their buckets in the boat, reserving a portion of the catch. Fishermen scoop up large handfuls of tiny omena fish, quickly filling up the buckets. Most women hand over 1,000 shillings ($10 USD) but a few do not. For these women, there is an understanding that they will meet the fisherman later for sex.
It’s a sunny late afternoon at Agape Children’s Ministry in Kisumu. Children run around, playing football or netball with staff. Others play checkers with stones on a painted table top. A girl swings on a tyre, trying to make it go as high as she can. Shouts and laughter fill the air. Meanwhile, a young man looks pensively at a row of bunk beds in the boy’s dormitory. Unlike the children outside, most of whom will be in the institution for just a few months before returning home, Samora spent almost his entire childhood in care.
It’s a bright, sunny morning on the last day of term at State Junior Secondary School 3 in Klaten, and the schoolyard is full of children in uniforms, chatting and playing. Klaten is one of the poorest towns in the Indonesian island of Java. It suffers from being located halfway between the more prosperous cities of Solo and Yogyakarta. Most families in this area are rice farmers and are vulnerable to poverty due to bad harvests.
The sound of a bell rings out to announce that the school day has just finished at Kathebwe Primary School. It’s a hot, sunny day. Children run outside and start to disperse. Some go home to nearby villages, while others start kicking a ball around on the school field. A third group joins their mothers and younger siblings, who are sitting with a hundred or more flood victims in the shade of a large tree. Since the heavy rains and floods of early March, this school has doubled as an evacuation centre. Continue reading “On the move: mobile clinic helps malnourished children”→
It was the middle of the night on 7 March when Annie decided to flee her home with her children, including baby Ndaziona, who had been born just two days before. It had been raining for four days, the nearby Shire river was rising, and the family’s mud brick and straw house was becoming precarious. Annie woke in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. “I looked outside and saw lots of water coming,” she recalls. “I took the children and ran. We got maybe 10 or 20 metres before the house collapsed behind us.” Continue reading “Water of life: helping two-week-old Ndaziona survive”→