RADIO CHALLENGE, A LIGHT IN CHALLENGING TIMES.

23-06-2020

Rael Kaaniru, a mother of four is a happy person despite the challenging times. She is narrating to us as we peel off peas that are going to make today's lunch of how the normal she used to know has changed. She, however, unlike many of her neighbors here in Kiwanjani, Isiolo town has a secret. Something she describes as a shining candle in the darkness of the COVID 19 pandemic, the game that has been dubbed the Komesha Corona challenge and airs on Radio Shahidi. She is a talkative woman and her kids have clearly taken after her in loquaciousness. We are enjoying the banter with the family as we go down the history lane, to pre-corona era, late last year before all hell broke lose. Rael Kaaniru, centre in spectacles, mother to Fidy Ntinyari (Second from left) a beneficiary of the Komesha Corona challenge. Lifestyle changer. "Life has not been the same since the novel coronavirus was discovered in Wuhan in December last year. Face masks, constant washing of hands and avoiding crowds is a routine that is now embedded in our systems, something we had never imagined before," Rael explains while I try and teach Lamech the secret behind peeling the peas faster. Greasy cereal. She jokingly states how people have become more clean and hygienic due to the measures that have been put in place by the ministry of health that include constant washing of hands using soap. March 13th 2020 is a date that will forever be embedded in the minds of Kenyans. The day Kenya recorded the first case of COVID 19, a disease that had initially been associated with foreigners and the rich. Carol, the first born daughter in this family clearly recalls the day as she heard the breaking news get announced on Radio Shahidi and she recalls the tension that surrounded the discovery that the disease was closer home than they had imagined. The disease has already spread now as she narrates this and over 4,374 people have tested positive in the country with 119 lives claimed by the virus. Globally there are over 8,777,245 cases of the virus and 462,918 deaths. Shocking statistics. In Isiolo County at the time of writing the article, there are seven cases. The routine here has changed as is evident in this family. Schools have closed, there is a nationwide curfew from dusk to dawn, places of worship have closed and face masks have become more essential now more than ever. The effects of this global pandemic have not only affected the lifestyle but also the economy, the mental health of people and even their social life. Media intervention Rael is very grateful that we live in modern times. With the internet and mass media, information dissemination has become a walk in the park. When the virus hit home, she overheard a presenter at Radio Shahidi advising people to embark on businesses that can help people as well as save lives. She is a tailor and owns a tailoring shop in her home compound. It was then that the idea of making face masks hit her, an endeavor that she looks back at with nostalgia. "I had a soft loan of Ksh 8,000. I thought that the best way to make this money was to embrace the mask-making endeavor while they were still on demand. I followed through radio to get the procedure for making quality masks and believe you me I paid the loan fully," She says even as her kids nod in agreement. Mark Oluoch, a winner of the Komesha Corona challenge has a chat with Lamech from Caritas Isiolo. Face masks have become part and parcel of every day clothing. Komesha Corona Challenge Caritas Isiolo is the development and Humanitarian arm of the Catholic Diocese of Isiolo. Since the advance of the Virus in the Country the organization came up ways of helping the local communities in terms of information and also materially. That is how the ‘Komesha Corona Challenge’ was born. The challenge is basically a call in radio game that runs in every talk show at Radio Shahidi 91.7 FM- a local radio run by the Catholic Church of Isiolo. Listeners are asked questions pertaining the state of COVID 19 locally, nationally and globally. Winners walk away with airtime to call their loved ones even as they maintain social distance while grand winners like Rael's daughter Fidy Ntinyari get gift hampers that comprise shopping and money which all amount to Ksh. 4,000 (2500 Cash and the rest as shopping). So far there have been six grand winners and over 34 people have won the daily airtime rewards. Gilbert Mutuku, the first grand winner of the challenge tells me that the secret to winning the game is staying alert and informed. "Anyone that listens to Radio Shahidi news bulletins has all the answers to the challenge. The key lies in being alert because you don't know what you'll be asked," Gilbert Mutuku - Winner of the Komesha Corona Challenge. The radio challenge has indeed helped the locals. Not only are they informed on the corona virus but also they are gaining materially from participating in the challenge. Mark Oluoch, 19 years (casual laborer-welder) the last grand winner we visit before we call it a day, has clothing items that he has named Komesha Corona. He purchased them using money won from the challenge and calls upon the locals to engage in the challenge. Gilbert reveals to us that he sorted out this month's (Ksh.2000) rent using the money won from the challenge and Fidy Ntinyari also has personal emoluments to remind her of when she answered all the questions asked correctly on radio. The shopping from the gift hamper at Mama Fidy's are not depleted yet. The peas will be mixed with greens and maize flour and we are going to make 'mukinde', a local delicacy. We salivate at the thought of such an interesting meal. We are hungry but as we wait for the meal to get ready all we are thinking is, we surely ought to participate in this challenge, don't we? Story by: Lamech Onyari from Caritas Isiolo and, : Henry Mwangangi from Radio Shahidi. Date: 19th June 2020 Time: 10:00 am-2:200 pm East African Time Areas visited: Kiwanjani, Kiwanja Ndege and Town centre, Isiolo sub county Isiolo County.