A Kenyan safari operator who would typically be hosting tourists is spearheading a volunteer effort to feed 24,000 families.
Thousands of families in Kenya were left penniless when the coronavirus hit the country, Reuters reported.
“One old woman told us she hadn’t eaten for days — her sons had stopped supplying her because they have no work,” said safari operator Pankaj Shah, who mentioned he was inspired by Mother Teresa to carry out this mission.
Kenya confirmed its first case of the coronavirus on March 12, setting off a domino effect where schools closed, businesses shut, families fled the capital, and the work that sustained most urban Kenyans had all but gone away.
“People were getting hungry and angry,” Shah said.
He felt it was time for someone to act, and asked a couple of friends to pitch in to help him. A local school closed due to the virus offered their space as headquarters for the volunteer operation.
Shah’s volunteers, who go by the name Team Pankaj, have sent out enough food to feed 24,000 families, each to last an average family of five two weeks.
Although Shah has never run an aid operation before the coronavirus hit, he thought back to a chance encounter with Mother Teresa more than three decades ago in Nairobi.
He said a wheel spun off her old pickup truck and hit his new Mercedes. Eventually, he volunteered with the world-famous missionary for three months and adopted a baby girl from an orphanage run by the Roman Catholic nun.
“I think about what she would do,” he said after the coronavirus hit. “That’s the inspiration for the rest of my life.”
Kenya has 179 confirmed active coronavirus cases, with 12 deaths.