Like most of the world, the COVID pandemic has had a dramatic effect on SAS. On March 16, the Kenyan government sent out a message to Children’s Centres in Kenya that all children should be sent home. Schools, churches, and businesses were also shuttered. On April 20, SAS Co-founders Susan and Charlie Redden sent out the following message to all supporters of the SAS Foundation:
Charlie and I hope you are well and safe during this difficult time. The children and staff at SAS in Kenya are facing the same upheaval in their lives and we are writing to update you on the current situation.
The Kenyan government has directed all schools and children’s homes to be closed to limit the spread of the coronavirus. As with much of the world, businesses and churches have been shuttered and travel is severely limited. Many Kenyans live in overcrowded conditions and are struggling to find food for their families.
All of the children and staff are presently safe and healthy. The SAS staff has overseen the transfer of our older children from their secondary schools and universities and settled them into the safest possible living situations with either extended family or guardians.
The young residents of the SAS Children’s Centre have also been reintegrated with extended family or guardians. Emily Mwangi, Director of the Centre, and her staff spent the days before the children left preparing them for the transfer by explaining they were returning to their villages in order to be safe and to help care for family members. Emily reports it was an emotionally wrenching time for both the staff and the children. She is comforted by the knowledge that the children have received excellent medical care and good nutrition while at SAS and trusts these practices will help protect their health. The life skills that the staff helped the SAS children cultivate—using coping strategies for stress and worry, developing self-reliance, learning to pray—give us hope they can successfully navigate whatever is to come.
As difficult as it was to see the children go, Emily said she “witnessed great joy from the parents, guardians and foster parents on reintegration day. If there is a lockdown. . . At least the families were reunited.” When necessary, staff was able to leave food and small amounts of money with the families and will remain in touch by phone with the children to ensure they are well cared for.
The work at SAS continues, although in a different format than the one to which we are accustomed. We hope for a return to health and normalcy sooner rather than later, but that part of the script remains to be written. Until then, please keep our little charges and the staff who cares for them in mind as you weather your own difficulties. As ever, we are so very grateful for your continued support of SAS the valuable work they do. We couldn’t do it without you!