Housekeeping team raises funds for Covid-19 Educational Relief Fund
She walks from one room to another during her shift with a notebook in her pocket. Once in a while, she reaches for it and jots down a figure: 50, 210, 500. These numbers, coming in through MPESA or in hard cash, represent amounts raised by her colleagues in the housekeeping team. The more than 80 members in this department have, since May, been contributing to the Strathmore University Covid-19 Educational Relief Fund spearheaded by the Strathmore University Foundation. When asked, they described their efforts as “giving a hand to their friend, the VC”. By July 15, the tally in the notebook added up to Kshs. 43,000, against a target of Kshs. 60,000.
Eunice Odundo has worked at the University for over 13 years and has seen the growth of the University in terms of student and staff numbers and increase in infrastructure. During those years, she has been based at the Sangale Campus, the Management Science Building (MSB), the Medical Centre and immediately before the pandemic sent everyone away from the campus, at the Strathmore University Business School. Now, unable to come in to work as usual, they alternate work days with only a few housekeepers coming in daily to give the University a sparkle.
New cleaning procedure
According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), spread from person-to-person of this virus happens most frequently among close contacts. However, current evidence suggests that the virus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is, therefore, a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in households and community settings.
To counteract this, the University has put in place measures to protect the housekeepers. For instance, a visit to the clinic will reveal housekeepers clad in Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) diligently cleaning rooms and surfaces. The department has also rolled out clear guidelines on cleaning and disinfection of all rooms, offices, washrooms and other public areas in use. Despite the increase in workload and extra precaution needed to carry out their work, the housekeepers take pride in knowing that their work directly impacts the fight by reducing the risk of exposure to the virus and ensuring that there is zero cross-contamination.
When news of the Foundation’s initiative reached them, a core team made up of Eunice, the treasurer, Hellen Ashioya, Anne Muthoni and Margaret Marambo, members of the departmental welfare committee, mobilized their colleagues to take action and assist those in dire need. Their efforts will add to the already growing kitty at the Strathmore Foundation coffers.
Since its inception, Strathmore University has spent over 1.2 Billion to support more than 6,000 students in scholarships, student loans, work-study, and bursaries. As the financial needs of vulnerable students continue to rise, particularly due to the predicament caused by COVID- 19, the Foundation rolled out a fundraising campaign to ensure that learners continue with classes virtually and that their basic needs are met.
“This pandemic has affected everyone in one way or another. We’d like to appreciate the University by giving the little that we have,” Eunice says. For some, raising the 500 shillings has meant sacrifices, doing without an essential item or two in order to slowly add to the kitty. “Some will tell you – I am the bread winner, money is tight, so I am sending you this little amount for now. But I will top up when I am able to,” Eunice continues. The sacrifice, however, Margaret is quick to add, is well worth it. “We give the funds to the VC. He and his team will know what to do with the money and who needs it most.”
The team earlier demonstrated their culture of giving by pulling resources together for the family of the late Beatrice Otieno, the colleague they lost in April this year. Margaret was among the few that represented the team at Beatrice’s home, a gesture that warmed the hearts of her family.
The article was compiled by Wambui Gachari.
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