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COVID-19 Emergency Fund

teachers with reading books at Compassion digging drains children at class

COVID-19 is a worldwide problem, and as is often the case, will hit those in poverty the hardest.

As a UK-based charity with a lot of friends and relatives in key professional roles, we are only too aware that the current pandemic is hurting a lot of people in the UK. It is also affecting our partners in Kenya, and if the current restrictions continue for a long time, they will have a devastating effect on our friends and partners in Nairobi.

The Kenyan government has closed all schools indefinitely: although our partner schools are outside of the state system, they are still subject to state oversight, and so they have had to close. It is also, from an infection control point of view, the right thing to do.

Because they are outside of the formal state education system, schools are run as "private" schools, and they rely on school fees paid by parents to pay the overheads that are a necessary part of running any school. This source of income has disappeared overnight.

A prolonged period with no income means that the schools will potentially lose both premises and teaching staff, so that when schools are allowed to re-open, there may not be a school to open. Teachers, needing to eat and pay rent, are likely to seek alternative employment, and may prefer not to return to school. Landlords, if they do not collect rent from the schools may either lock the schools until arrears are paid, or simply repossess the land and buildings and turn them over to residential use.

If the premises are repossessed, then the schools will lose everything, including improvements made by Porridge and Rice, and will be starting again to build a school from scratch. This would be a devastating and disheartening blow for the headteachers who have invested a lifetime in building their reputation and that of the school.

The sum of money required to pay rent and teachers' salaries per month is large: £20,000. We acknowledge that it is likely unattainable in the current climate, however we feel that we have to at least try. Our regular income sources cover just under 10% of the full amount required.

At the same time, all of our regular fund-raising activities have been curtailed - in particular, we will miss the support of the spring and summer fairs that we attend in West London in the coming months. Sales of books and other goods will help in the short term, however, our stock will run dry: we cannot accept physical donations at the moment.

In the spirit of "every little helps", please would you consider either a monthly or a one-off donation? Maybe you aren't having to drive to work at the moment - would you consider donating some or all of that saved petrol money to Porridge and Rice? Are you eating at home instead of buying from a sandwich shop? Would you be willing to donate the difference?

Our online shops remain open - please check them out, and see whether anything piques your interest...

And finally, can you suggest any ways that we can raise funds just now? Any and all suggestions are welcome - please email us