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Protect a poor child from biting cold this season

As the cold bites, my heart goes out to children who have to go to school early. On a particularly cold morning this week, I saw a skimpily dressed boy of about nine braving the chilly weather, as he waited, I guessed, for the school bus.

The girl, who, I supposed was his sister, was warmly dressed, but in the drizzle, neither had an umbrella. I was appalled and a slogan dubbed, “Keep a child warm,” or “Buy a child a jacket,” swirled continuously in my mind.

I later understood the reason for the weather through a colleague’s text: “Happy Summer Solstice. For those who can still remember their Geography, the day is the longest of the year. It is the day of Summer Solstice, and happens once in a generation, when the sun’s zenith is at its furthest point from the equator.

It will happen again on June 21, 2062, when most of us will have long joined our ancestors. It is quite a big day for astronomers and lovers of outer space. Now you know…” When asked about one motivation for being a home-schooling parent, years before mine became teens, I would answer: “I don’t want my children getting up too early and in the cold, when they are still, so young.”

The present weather, has caused many an adult to come down with flu, which seems to take ages to clear. How much more affected are the children? Not only should every philanthropist’s eye, look out for a child, who needs to be freed from the biting cold, but Kenyans should pay special attention to what the weather experts are saying.

The area, where this child with a skimpy sweater was, reported 11 degrees in the morning. The Meteorological Department has informed Kenyans that the next three months may be the coldest we have known.

According to the experts, people ought to keep warm to avoid respiratory diseases such as asthma, pneumonia, common cold and the flu. I think of impoverished homes where such clothing is a luxury. Data from the Institute of Security Studies (2016), shows Kenya as ranking sixth, among top 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, with 18 million living under the poverty line.

Keeping children from poor families warm, and in school, will certainly call for the radical measures, the report advocates for. Priorities in certain homes cannot allow an extra garment. But going beyond our own individual needs can touch the vulnerable and destitute among us during such severe weather conditions. —The author is a Senior Communications and Media officer, World Vision, Kenya

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