Isiolo group cushioning families from pangs of hunger

Nasole 42 Group prayer

Members of Nasole 42 group at Ms Ilary Mwathimba’s home at Mti wa Mkaa in Bulapesa, Isiolo on October 14, 2022. 

Photo credit: Waweru Wairimu I Nation Media Group

As more than 140,000 people in Isiolo reel from the biting effects of drought, a philanthropic group of local residents, mostly women, has been hailed for extending a helping hand to hundreds of starving families.

Nasole 42 Group was formed five years ago initially to spearhead peace initiatives but due to persistent drought, its members from all of Kenya’s 42 tribes resolved to start supplying food to vulnerable families.

The members, most of whom are small-scale traders, fast every Thursday to save enough to help at least two families the following day, something they have been doing for the past two years.

“We save the money we would have spent to pool together and assist a needy family or two depending on the contributions made,” group chairperson Mary Njeri said.

Their members, spread across the six wards of Bulapesa, Burat, Wabera, Oldonyiro, Ngaremara and Cherab, identify needy families in their areas.

The group last Friday provided maize flour, rice, sugar and cooking oil to Ms Ilary Mwathimba, a blind mother of two in Mti wa Makaa, Bulapesa ward, who did not get food recently under a county government programme.

They said they had found her days earlier crying after she did not get food that Governor Abdi Ibrahim Guyo flagged off on Tuesday for 24,000 hunger-stricken families.

Nasole 42 Group prayer

Nasole 42 Group members hold a prayer at Ms Ilary Mwathimba’s home at Mti wa Mkaa in Bulapesa, Isiolo on October 14, 2022.

Photo credit: Waweru Wairimu I Nation Media Group

The woman lives in a dilapidated timber structure with her son and daughter after being evicted from a rental house over arrears that had accrued for several months.

“A Good Samaritan temporarily offered me the space after I was thrown out by my former landlord. I have been surviving on begging because we have not received any help despite several visits to government offices in Isiolo town,” she told journalists.

Unable to do chores by herself, her 10-year-old son had to drop out of school to take care of her and his younger sister.

“I am happy that the group came to assist me. Every time I reach out to people, they say I am pretending, which pains me so much,” she said amid tears.

Ms Mwathimba lost her sight about 15 years ago after developing eye irritations for some years.

Nasole 42 Group

Nasole 42 Group members with Ms Ilary Mwathimba (holding her daughter) at her home in Mti wa Makaa, Bulapesa in Isiolo when they visited her on October 14, 2022. 

Photo credit: Waweru Wairimu I Nation Media Group

Group coordinator Salo Wario said the group will buy school uniforms for the woman’s son so that he can resume learning while a lasting solution to her predicament is sought.

“We will support the boy’s education and also purchase iron sheets to seal the openings on her house for security,” Ms Wario said.

The group appealed to the county government and local non-governmental organisations to intensify interventions meant to help families affected by drought.

Members Moses Murita, Hassan Golompo and James Muriungi said pastoralism, the economic mainstay for a majority of residents, had been hit hard by drought and insecurity, especially in remote areas.

“Animals have started dying due to lack of water and pastures, making it hard to provide for our families and pay school fees for our children. Very many people have sunk into depression after losing their animals,” said Mr Murita, from Leparua in Burat ward.

Mr Muriungi asked residents to show compassion and share what they have with the needy.

“No one should be throwing away food at a time like this. Let us give it out to those in need before it becomes stale. That’s humanity,” he said.

The county government, they said, should streamline distribution of food so that it benefits only the intended groups.