Harrison Mumia from Kenya: “Let’s show compassion for the most vulnerable”

#GlobalHumanismNow: an update from the Atheists in Kenya Society

  • blog Type / Membership blog
  • Date / 9 April 2020
  • By / Giovanni Gaetani

Yesterday we launched #GlobalHumanismNow, a series of mini-interviews with our Members and Associates from all around the world where we ask them how they are coping with the global coronavirus emergency, to explain what initiatives they are taking, and to tell us how the global humanist community can support them.

The second mini-interview of the series is with Harrison Mumia, Chairperson of Atheists in Kenya Society, Member of Humanists International since 2017.

Humanists International: Hi Harrison, thank you for accepting our invitation. What is the current situation in your country, Kenya?

Harrison: As of today (7 April), we are under a night curfew from 7 PM to 5 AM. There’s also containment in two counties. The capital city Nairobi in particular is under a lock down.

Basically, most of the population is already in a lock down.

And how is your country responding to the emergency so far?

The government has given tax reliefs for Kenyan citizens. It has scrapped the monitor of loan defaulters, what we call the credit reference bureau. It has set aside billions of Kenyan Shilling to assist the most vulnerable.

How has the emergency affected your organisation and the individuals within it?

We had to suspend all our regular meetings, like many other humanist organizations around the world.

Events that we had been invited for in universities were cancelled. We are currently holding our meetings online every week via Zoom.

How is your organization responding to the emergency?

We have sensitised Kenyans on the need to adhere to the guidelines by the Ministry of Health.

Most recently, we called for the arrest of Catholic Church leaders for ignoring the social distancing rule in the middle of the lock down, since this rule applies indistinctly to all Kenyan citizens and no religious exemptions is justifiable.

We are planning a fundraising campaign to assist the most vulnerable members of the society. We plan to distribute basic commodities like food and clean water.

We are also working to ensure that we disseminate accurate information on COVID 19 from reliable sources. There’s a lot of misinformation online.

More in general, how do you think we should face this emergency as humanists? Which humanist principles should we value most right now?

We have witnessed many Kenyans losing their jobs, being forced to go on leave as a result of the measures the Government is taking. Schools have been closed. We should be compassionate. We must give hope.

We should also base our actions on the science that speaks to the pandemic. This will assist in flattening the curve. We are thinking about making masks available to those living in vulnerable areas, especially in informal settlements. We also want to buy cooking oil and maize flour for families that are most affected.

How can the international community support your efforts?

As I was saying, we want to purchase masks and basic food items to be distributed to the most vulnerable Kenyan citizens. We will appreciate any assignments towards this initiative from humanists from all around the world.

And what is your message to the global humanist community?

Let us show compassion for those affected, and for the most vulnerable. Let us get the right information from the experts, and use this information to increase understanding of COVID 19 within our areas.

Thank you, Harrison, it has been a pleasure to chat with you, and please keep us posted on your situation!

I will, Giovanni, and stay safe!

If you represent a Member or Associate of Humanists International and you want to participate to the #GlobalHumanismNow series, please contact us at [email protected]

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