The village of Mubia came to be when a white priest, the current Bishop Emeritus of the Nyahururu Diocese, Luigi Piaro, bought land to help the inhabitants to settle at a place. The name Mubia actually means priest. Currently, the community consists of ten families, each has a plot of three-quarters of an acre. The area is scarcely populated; the village is surrounded by bushy lands and isolated. The only source of water for the community is a dam which is 2km away from the village and dries up during the hot season.
After our vehicle struggled with bushes and the poor roads we arrived at the village and were welcomed by the only lady who has gone to school thanks to the support of Bishop Piaro. She has a certificate in early childhood education and works in a neighbouring school as a teacher. And she happens to be a volunteer with St Martin in the mental health department.
As the community saw the car of St Martin approaching they all came out of their houses. The first family we approached seemed a bit lost, but we could see a hopeful expectation in their eyes. We got introduced to the family of Christine who has six children. The elder son welcomed us warmly in place of the mother and apologised that there are not enough seats for all. His mother had gone to look for some casual labour a distance from the village and would return in the evening. The elder son is 14 years old and the youngest is one and a half years old. We learned that the father seems to be absent in the lives of this young family. From our observation it was evident that the family knew about COVID 19, the children had masks, however, they were not wearing them in the right way, some were just hanging them around their necks. We were told they received the masks from the area assistant chief. My colleague asked for a hand-washing point and learned that there was none.
The family lives in a one-bedroom house which also serves as the kitchen. It is built out of mud and has iron sheets for roofing. There is no visible furniture in the kitchen/living room apart from one bed which is for the boys. The girls sleep in the main bedroom where there were a few timbers laid down and a blanket. Here the father also spends the night when he is around. Both beds have no mattresses only blankets. The poor situation of the family is clearly evident. There were no signs of poultry or animals in the compound which is another sign of poverty.
It was lunch-time and we asked if the mother had left some food for the family. Surprisingly, they said yes, and we requested to see the meal. The lunch was barely a plate of githeri though with some beans, clearly not enough for the six children. There was nothing more left to cook this morning and if the mother is not fortunate enough to get some casual labour today they would go to sleep without food tonight. And finding casual labour has become very difficult as many people were not welcoming other persons in their houses because of the fear of COVID-19. The children shared that since COVID-19 was reported in Kenya and they closed the schools, life has been very challenging. Breakfast consists of plain tea without milk occasionally with some sugar. Even cabbages have become too expensive because of COVID-19, so for supper, they eat ugali with plain tea – if available.
After brief conversations between the visiting team, we offloaded our care pack and the children were full of joy and ran to the house. My colleague made the joke that Christmas has come for them early this year and was time to feast. That day and the days to come the family was assured of food. The worries are what will happen to the family in the future when the care pack is finished.
In total, we visited 10 families in that village. We were able to share the little food we had carried based on the household sizes. It could only last for a meal for 2-3days. Among the 10 families, there is one family which has a household of 15 people. They didn’t have food that day, they used up tall their remaining flour the night before. There was no hope for any food if we didn’t visit the family that day. As I write this report I am Very sure our delivered care park is already finished.
In conclusion, most of the households in Mubia have insecure livelihoods. COVID-19 has impacted negatively on the lives of those depending on casual labour. There is still low wage labour in the rural areas though as it is planting season. However, with the closing of the schools, the children are involved in the daily tasks and now casual workers are needed. Consequently, wage labour is minimal and underpaid. Single parenthood, low literacy levels, vicious cycles of vulnerability, and lack of factors of production in this rural economy is the major source of vulnerability for the households in Mubia.