Isiolo woman puts smiles on faces of the needy through philanthropy

Sunday July 12 2020

Irene Kanana, 44, loads water on her motorbike on July 11, 2020. She has been supplying to water to vulnerable families in Isiolo comprising of the elderly, the disabled and sick people to help them cope with the effects of Covid-19. PHOTO | WAWERU WAIRIMU | NATION MEDIA GROUP


A 44-year-old woman from Isiolo has warmed the heart of many residents for using her free time to fetch water for the sick, elderly and disabled in efforts to ensure that they observe the high levels of hygiene required in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Aware of the challenges that the vulnerable groups continue to experience following the outbreak of the pandemic, Irene Kanana, a water vendor, offered to be assisting the people, most of whom live alone and have no one to look after them.

While riding on a motorbike, the mother of three spends half of her day distributing water to 20 families living within the outskirts of Isiolo town, an engagement that costs her at least Sh1,000 daily.

The woman, who has been in the water vending business for the past four years, has been relying on her daily proceeds to buy water for the groups which are affected by the persistent acute water shortage in the county.

“I was worried about the groups after the government started enforcing the curfew and I resolved to start buying water for them to observe hygiene while at their homes,” Ms Kanana said during interview with the Nation at her Mwangaza home.



She has also been refilling hand washing kits at public places such as markets and town centres whenever they run out of water to ensure the public stays free of the disease.

With the biting effects of the coronavirus that have seen her proceeds drastically drop, Ms Kanana provides water for the families twice a week with each getting 10 20-litre jerricans.

Before the disease struck the country in March, Ms Kanana says she used to make a profit of at least Sh5,000 daily but now struggles to get Sh1,000 which goes to buying water for the families and fuelling her motorbike.

“We are going through hard times and we all have a responsibility in the fight to contain the disease and does not matter how big or small our contribution is.

I am not doing this to get recognition but only planting a seed that I know I will reap when I am old,” the business woman said.


Her husband, who is a driver, has been her source of motivation in her noble undertaking.

In her undertaking, Ms Kanana is sometimes forced to dig deeper into her pockets to buy food for the groups that are yet to receive any assistance from the county government and local leaders.

“It hurts me so much that such people who have no one to rely on and others who cannot get out of bed due to health complications have been neglected by the leaders despite money being set aside for the coronavirus fight,” she lamented.

As she continues to nurse a wound on her leg occasioned by the motorbike’s exhauster, Ms Kanana is determined to bring a change in the community by using her little resources.

“The challenges those I am helping continue to go through make me shed tears everyday wondering where the government’s funds for Covid-19 are being diverted to,” she said.

60-year-old Eunice Kendi, who was left by her husband after she developed stroke, is among those who have been benefiting from Ms Kanana’s water provisions.


The mother of five, who has been relying on neighbours for her basic provisions, laments that she has not received any assistance from the county government in the wake of the deadly coronavirus.

“My husband vanished after selling all our plots including the one where the house is immediately after I developed the complications. I have personally gotten nothing from the county despite setting aside millions for Covid-19 fight and receiving more funding from the national government,” Ms Kendi said.

While lauding Ms Kanana’s efforts, Mr Charles Mwiti lamented that many families and especially the old and those with special needs have been hit hard by hunger and called for immediate interventions.

“Where is our county to assist the families with food and Ms Kanana with some boost to reach more families?” he posed.

Ms Kanana has urged the county and national governments to carry out serious mapping of the vulnerable groups so that they can benefit from State funds.

“We have a lot of people who have not been included in the government programmes and we appeal to the relevant authorities to task chiefs to carry out serious mapping so that no one is left out,” she said.