Kenya: The Christmas Basket, a special appeal for the most vulnerable refugee families
21 December 2018

Some of the food collected through the Christmas Basket initiative (JRS)

Nairobi, 21 December 2018 - Christmas is around the corner! As would be expected for any family welcoming a newborn, this is an occasion for many of us to rejoice. The joy of Christmas is typically expressed through coming together to celebrate each other often by exchanging gifts.

It is this spirit that inspired the folks at the JRS-Nairobi project to come up with the Christmas Basket initiative. This Christmas Basket is a special appeal carried out in the neighborhoods around Nairobi seeking donations for the most vulnerable refugee families. The appeal was launched at the start of Advent with support from a number of catholic parishes around Nairobi.

The response was overwhelming. JRS received large quantities of food stuff including maize meal, wheat flour, beans and rice. There were also donations of household items such as beds, mattresses, blankets, utensils and even a fridge! Other donations included clothes, shoes, toys and even cash.  Donations came from parishes and other friends of JRS including religious communities and institutions of learning including Hekima and Marist colleges.

JRS Nairobi keeps an open door policy. On average, as many as 15 visitors, each with their own particular needs, are received at the JRS center. Those whose needs the project is able to address are assisted and the rest are referred to other agencies. The majority of those who come are vulnerable refugees seeking help with basic needs such as food, rent, clothing and medical assistance. One of the ways the project assists them is to provide them with vouchers (with a cash value ranging between $10-40) which they can use to buy what they need. However, the project works with a severely limited budget and is not able to respond adequately to all the needs.

The Christmas Basket thus provided much needed relief, especially to the most vulnerable refugees living in Nairobi. Families with young children got toys and expecting mothers received infant clothing which is usually very expensive. Other families were given much needed household items including pieces of furniture and cooking utensils. One young couple welcoming their second baby were the happy recipients of a bed and a mattress.

Christmas is a time for giving. Thanks to the kindness of generous individuals around Nairobi, a few vulnerable families will be able to afford a meal and a warm bed this Christmas. May this spirit of compassion and solidarity last beyond Christmas and into the new year of 2019.

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Endashaw Debrework SJ
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