• Several Kenyans lost their jobs due to effects of Covid-19 while businesses closed as economy crumbled.
• Athi River deputy county commissioner David Juma urged the government to extend the Kazi Mtaani programme to include more people.
Methan Mbithi’s marriage was under threat after she lost her teaching job to Covid-19 in March.
The 26-year-old trained primary school teacher said Wonders Academy, the school she taught in Kinanie, Machakos county, was closed as per the government directive after the first Covid-19 positive case was reported mid March.
The mother of one with three years teaching experience said she had to take up a Kazi Mtaani job to save her marriage and support her family since she never had any other source of livelihood.
“We lost our jobs. I had to join other youth in Kinanie to provide for my family and meet personal needs,” Mbithi told the press at the chief’s office on Tuesday.
She was coping with the menial job despite its being tedious.
“It’s hard since some of the things I have never done in my life, I am now doing them to survive,” she said.
We found her in a group that was digging a pit latrine at the chief’s office.
Mbithi said she had adjusted to the Sh455 she was paid daily. She earned Sh15,000 per month from her teaching job before Covid-19 struck.
Her case is not any different from thousands of other teachers, more so those in private schools who had lost jobs to the pandemic. Some married private school teacher couples are separated while others returned to their rural homes.
Rose Omondi, a colleague of Mbithi, said Kazi Mtaani was a godsend. She said it had saved them from shame and agony of struggling to fend for themselves after they lost jobs.
“I don’t know what could have happened if I wasn’t considered for the programme. It has helped me a lot. I am able to sort out my bills and provide for my family," the mother of one said.
Chiefs who spoke to the Star said Kazi Mtaani had great impact on residents as it had saved families, reduced crime and improved livelihoods.
Athi River chief Cecilia Nzioka said some of the beneficiaries had established small businesses from their earnings. She said this will enable them to continue earning from their businesses after the programme ends.
Kinanie chief Josphat Musinga said the youth provided labour while local companies donated materials for projects in the location.
Athi River deputy county commissioner David Juma asked the government to extend the programme for more youths to benefit. Some 4,046 local youths are already involved.
The administrator said young people have shown they can use their power and skills to implement projects across the subcounty. The projects include landscaping, fencing, construction of toilets, offices, roads and football pitches.
Juma said landscaping at his offices and fencing were done by the skilled youth involved in Kazi Mtaani, while assistant county commissioners', chiefs' and assistant chiefs’ offices had offices and toilets constructed.
Hundreds of trees had been planted in Mavoko, Mlolongo, Lukenya and Kinanie.
“The programme has led to reduced crime, clean environment, and unity among residents especially the youth, improved livelihoods, empowered youth, skills transfer, and reduced gender-based violence, among others,” Juma said.
He said families were able to pay rents and afford food alongside other basic needs, thanks to the programme.