KENYA: Florence Gundo: “How will we feed the children?”
|“The market where we buy food was burnt down”|
NAIROBI, 18 January 2008 (IRIN) – Florence Gundo is the coordinator and founder of the Orongo Widows and Orphans Group, which cares for 288 orphans in western Kenya’s Nyanza Province. Gundo told IRIN/PlusNews how the political unrest had affected the group.
“Our group consists of several women, many of whom lost their husbands to HIV and are HIV-positive themselves. We run a nursery where orphaned children come and spend the day and get a meal; some of the women also live with and care for the orphans as guardians. Most of these orphans lost their parents to HIV.
“When the violence broke out immediately after the election, at least two of the people we support were killed by rowdy youths in their homes. One of our widows was attacked and her home was torn down to the ground; she was very lucky to escape alive. One child-headed household had their home invaded – they were chased away and when they came back everything had been stolen.
“We had been supported by AMREF [the African Medical and Research Foundation ] and MildMay [a UK-based HIV/AIDS charity] but this funding came to an end and we now buy food for the children with the proceeds from our income-generating activities – we grow and sell maize, sell baskets we make from reeds from Lake Victoria and also sell herbal medicines.
“During the fighting, our maize plantation was burnt so we have nothing left to sell or eat. Even if we did, Kibuye market, where we sell our things and buy food, was also burnt down.
“We have nowhere to get food now … the nearest market is quite far and we are really struggling to feed the children. Some people brought us a truck full of grain the other day from Eldoret [a town in the Rift Valley], but we don’t know how we will feed the children when this runs out.
“Fifteen of the orphans we care for are HIV-positive, and they require a more nutritious diet – for them the need is even greater than the rest.
“For those who are HIV-positive, getting drugs is also a major problem. They have to travel to the hospital and transport has become so expensive; before the election it was just 30 shillings [US 45 cents] to get to the nearest centre, but now it costs 100 shillings [$1.50], which, of course, we cannot afford to pay.
“We have been begging but how long can we do that? We need to get back on our feet to keep the children fed.”