COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on the everyday life of the informal settlements inhabitants, forcing World Friends to pause various activities, especially the ones involving community gahterings. That is the case of Banjuka school of dance and music.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported in Kenya on March 12 and by the end of the month, the government of Kenya had put in a number of measures to stop the spread of the disease. Kenyan government closed all schools in the country and stopped all community gatherings.
In order to follow national measures, we conducted some psychosocial support and sensitization about the virus in the month of April and had to temporary stop Banjuka program activities in adherence to the ministry of health in Kenya protocol. However, we continued to monitor the situation on the ground and following up with the government measures in line with COVID-19. No Banjuka staff or beneficiaries had contracted the virus, however the pandemic has resulted to a lot of challenges on youth, many of whom live within the informal settlements of Nairobi. Social challenges have been reported by the government and non-state actors to have increased during the Covid-19 pandemic and these include: increase in teen pregnancies, over indulgence in alcohol and substance abuse among youth, increased cases of mugging and antisocial behavior.
Following the easing of Covid-19 restrictive measures Banjuka project has resumed its activities as from October 2020. The reopening of Banjuka project will continue to work towards providing a safe space for the young people to seek help and in the nurturing of talents and creative. Measures to curb the spread of virus will be strictly implemented and adhered to by ensuring hand washing stations are strategically placed, the restricting the number of children to the program at a given time and having beneficiaries working in small groups to promote social distancing.
The reopening of Banjuka school will involve weekly trainings on talent creation and development. As usual percussion, dance, singing, and guitar lessons will be held for the students. Along with the regular art and music curricula, World Friends will provide psychosocial support and life skills education in order to reduce cases of mental health problems in children that might have risen due to the pandemic. The priority is to empower children with tools of survival in the harsh social-economic environment of slums in such a particular moment.