AFG May 2020 Update


Gatoto school and the surrounding Mukuru slum face a growing threat from COVID-19. Though that threat is similar to that faced around the world, the school, its neighborhood, and Kenya itself have far fewer resources to address it. Schools are closed. Students and families are quarantined into cramped, unsanitary spaces. At least one case of COVID-19 has been documented in Mukuru.
Nutrition is the single most urgent issue in the slums. A population that lived hand to mouth in the best of times now faces gross malnutrition and worse.
American Friends of Gatoto is working with Gatoto in a number of ways to address the challenges. To continue these efforts, AFG needs your help more than ever.


American Friends of Gatoto is pleased to announce that it will host a Zoom reception for Betty Nyagoha on Wednesday, May 27th at 1.00 pm Eastern/10.00 am Pacific.
Betty will address the status of the coronavirus in Nairobi and the community surrounding Gatoto, as well as the school’s remote education efforts, community assistance initiatives, and the recently undertaken micro-payment program.
To participate, please click below to register, or contact Yassi Tamdji at or text or call 347-854-6856.


A section of Gatoto’s lower primary classrooms and the pre-school block.
The Kenyan Department of Education pushed the date for re-opening schools to June 4th. Future delays are clearly possible.
There is little testing. Reported COVID cases and deaths continue to slowly increase. Authorities have sealed Eastleigh, a neighborhood 6 miles north of Gatoto, after a death was reported there. Mukuru itself had its first confirmed case, a man who was examined by two medical professionals in the Reuben Health Clinic.
As a result, the clinic was closed until further notice. (Exceptions are made for maternity patients and cases of tuberculosis.) As this clinic is the sole medical facility in the expansive Mukuru slum, this development is devastating.
Reuben Health Centre Closed by Pandemic


In the face of the pandemic, Gatoto is moving forward with multiple initiatives.

Efforts to continue the education of Gatoto’s students are evolving. Zoom classes are now offered at all levels. Because the number of students with access to smart phones or laptops is as low as 25% of the student body, these classes have limited effectiveness. Gatoto is encouraging sharing by those lucky enough to have the technology with those who do not, and promoting the availability of curriculum-based programming broadcast nationally on radio and television.

Teachers are reaching out to help individual students, with a particular focus on eighth year students, who will take the critical KCEP national exams later this year.

Gatoto’s first effort to address this issue was to distribute its existing food inventory to Gatoto families. This was successful, but it became clear that the approach was unsustainable due to security concerns.
Gatoto responded by launching an innovative micro-payment initiative, which is being funded by AFG for at least three months. Relying on the technology of M-Pesa, a mobile phone-based money transfer service, this program will provide funds for about 215 of the schools most impoverished families (more than 1,000 individuals), to purchase food.

Although research has shown that direct payments to beneficiaries tends to work surprisingly well, AFG has hired a Nairobi-based consultant who is auditing M-PESA data and assessing the program’s effectiveness.

Also funded by AFG, Gatoto is purchasing 4,000 reusable Kenyan-made face masks and a comparable quantity of hand soap. They will be distributed to Gatoto families and the surrounding community by Gatoto staff and community organizers.

The Nairobi Water Company is drilling a well and constructing a water storage tank on Gatoto’s campus. At least one water distribution point will be established just outside the campus, dramatically improving the local community’s access to clean water. Gatoto’s existing access to water will be improved as well.
Construction is underway.


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AFG is a 100% volunteer, not for profit 501(c)3 corporation. AFG’s limited direct costs are paid by restricted board member donations. 100% of all other donations to American Friends of Gatoto are forwarded to Gatoto. Receipts are sent to all donors for their tax filing purposes.