My Covid Story – Kashfi (Gawa)

My Covid Story – Kashfi (Gawa)

There was a buzz in the room, even with the complete silence behind the masks, everyone following Covid-19 measures sitting 2m apart from each other. The youth of Korogocho were asked to speak to government officials about their lives during the quarantine.

They are ready.

“May I speak first, as I have an unexpected incident I must attend to quite soon.” The young woman tells us about the work the Community Health Workers (CHWs) have been doing, continuing to provide care even through the risks around curfew. Her ask: special passes for the CHWs to allow them to accompany emergency cases to clinics after curfew.

They continued “A community in Dandora has been transformed from being unpassable, to look like a coffee garden using old tires and active planting. Sewers cleaned, roofs repaired, dumpsite land reclaimed to grow food, hand soap distributed, touchless sanitisation stations set up. The youth and society have risen to the challenge of Covid-19 and pulled together in unimaginable ways”

But a few gaps were still left. 

“Please can’t we use the empty school yards as a secondary marketplace? With the reduced attendance at marketplaces because of social distancing and now the containment, most people are eating only ugali and rice. Malnutrition amongst new mothers, pregnant teenagers and young children is increasing as a problem”  

“How about a community kitchen the same way we have print shops. So many people are unable to cook because they don’t have a place to cook, or no fuel. Even with the food distribution, many are not able to get to it”

This was a meeting that I had accompanied my friend Liz to. It stayed on my mind and as we sat through quarantine, making sense of Zoom, doing puzzles, forwarding memes, those words continued to sit with me.

So, I spoke about it to my husband, my friends, even my nanny. I spoke to Elizabeth Njoroge again. She reigned in Caroline Amstrong. As we went further, I asked for Kavita Doshi’s experience and expertise.  The four of us tried to dream up a way that we could fill one of those gaps. We were driven by our urge to contribute and do something in this terrible crisis. Through our desire to do something, Gawa was born. 

Gawa is sharing the burden of covid19. 

Sharing to fill those gaps.

Sharing with those who now have no means.

Sharing services to keep reaching the unreachable.

We spent over a month checking, planning, testing. We reached far and wide, and were able to get the price of one meal, including the produce and supplies, cooking, packaging, distributing and into the hands of a vetted beneficiary to Ksh60. We contacted a great nutritionist, one that helped me greatly with my first son, and she agreed to review the recipes and sign off on their nutritional completeness. We were ready to gawa, to share.

Through this journey and entire experience of understanding the issues better, getting to know the affected communities more, figuring out how to put the pieces and partners together, it has reminded me of something even more valuable. Through working with these 3 incredible women, I was reminded of how every person we meet has a story, has sides to them we have not yet discovered, has strengths that we have not experienced.

Working with them has been a celebration of womanhood, unknowingly. We originally knew each other as Kindergarten mums, attending recitals together and saying hello in the parking lot. We have now re-met each other as lawyers, strategists, community workers, and financial experts. We held meetings with toddlers on our laps, commiserated about Zoom schooling active young children, celebrated personal successes and encouraged each other through challenges. Even beyond the meals and jobs Gawa has created, it has created this sisterhood of unlikely diversity and I feel lucky.

One of the best things has been seeing the best parts of society-at-large pull together during this terrible crisis. Everyone is suffering through this storm at sea, but some of us are on yachts while others are holding onto a plank of wood. And when we can extend our strengths to those that are the weakest, we become so much stronger as a whole. Our various partners have put their best foot forward to make the gawa vision a reality. The grassroots community organizations, the youth of the settlements, are our feet on the ground, making sure the meals get to our neediest. And what continues to impress me is the spirit of giving in everyone. The donors have cut across age, socio-economic ability, race, religion. And I feel grateful that we were able to create something where a person can be assured that only Ksh60 is making a real direct impact.

 If you feel moved to also take part and Gawa meals, here is how you can contribute:

The impact you make# of MealsContribution needed
Change one person’s day1Ksh60
A family of 5 for 3 weeks100Ksh 6,000
15 families for a month1,000Ksh 60,000
165 children in a month2,000Ksh 120,000
2 full days of gawa: 5,000 people over 2 days at 15 locations across Nairobi5,000Ksh 300,000

Beyond this, your support means providing direct impact help on the effect of Covid-19, both immediate and long-term. In the immediate sense, it is providing food relief to those in most distress, increasing their health profile and potentially their ability to fight off Covid-19. In the long-term, the many children who are receiving the meals will have consistent nutrition ensuring well development and growth. Gawa has also started sustainability strategies for the communities through building capacity for recycling and community kitchen programs.

For more information, please check out the attachments, as well as our website:

Follow our progress on facebook and instagram: @gawameals

Mpesa till #: 52 11 307

M-changa link: