The General Elections were held early this month and after the polls ended, there were pockets in the country that were unsafe. Sallinder Nyawira decided to take the initiative by hosting people that felt unsafe and this blossomed into an initiative called Rescuebnb , which is a clever portmanteau of Rescue and Airbnb.
It was created on 12 of August this year at 2am when Sallinder Nyawira asked on Twitter who was in need of shelter due to security concerns. Rescuebnb has grown to have a team of 10 core volunteers and over 100 network volunteers in various locations like Kibra, Dandora, Mathare, Kawangware, Siaya and Kisumu. They have also partnered with various community service organizations, for profit organizations, religious organizations and Kenyan celebrities.
We reached out to her to share about the story behind RescueBnB, its success stories and how social media helped the initiative in its endeavours.
What is RescueBnB?
RescueBnB started as a collaborative platform run by volunteers. It enables ordinary people to share, connect and love. Starting the 12th of August, 2017, we have been supporting a number of communities materially (food and clothing) and emotionally (through counselling). We have sent up a vibrant team of volunteers (you can sign up here: www.rescuebnb.com)
Our current initiative, which is an emergency response to an unprecedented situation, will last 45-days, until the 30th of September 2017. We continue to accept donations in kind, as well as volunteers. Once the 45-day period is up, we intend to continue with initiatives to support the communities in which we are active and engage those with the ability to offer assistance.
What motivated the team into starting the initiative?
I was looking at what was happening, and could not just sit aside and do nothing. After trying to call a number of organisations and people who I thought could help, I decided to do something myself by asking those who were fearful of the situation in their home areas or already affected, to come and stay with me. By this time, I had spent the night talking to a close friend who was hiding under the bed with her child, while the sound of bullets rang outside. Helping in the only way I could was the ‘human thing’ to do.
The team came together in the 24-hours following Saturday the 12th. They all have different skill sets but are passionate about doing what they can to share what they have, connect those in need to those with the ability to help and spread love.
How do you vet people that are to be hosted by random people?
I would not call them random people, though I do understand your point. Even though anyone is open to sign-up, we look through your background and keep you on file. You are only activated once there is need, and if you are within the program policies. We identify those in need of temporary shelter through our contact volunteers, who work with established CBOs.
The first family I offered to help did not go through this process, because RescueBnB had not yet evolved to what it is today. I’m glad there is a team in place to care for these aspects. Persons who are being provided with shelter also get counseling and are hosted for a maximum of 21-days.
Success stories from the initiative?
We’ve so far managed to make an impact in Kawangware 56, Kibra, Mathare, Dandora, Nyalenda and Manyatta. I would love it if you could go to our Twitter account (@resquebnb), where you can get more information on the same.
Food packs delivered as of date to the above areas are as follows:- Kibera:315, Mathare: 60, Dandora:35, Kawangware:80, Kisumu:35 and Siaya 65. 1 food pack contains 1kg beans, 1/2 kg rice, 1 kg sugar, 500g salt, 2kg maize flour, 1 litre oil, 2 packets of milk. The food-packs vary depending on the size of the family.
Here is an experience from one of our counselors, Ivanna Waweru on the 20th of August, 2017:
I was honoured to be part of the team visiting Kibera yesterday. It was a humbling experience; meeting families who had real cases of emotional and even physical trauma following the #ElectionsKE2017.
It was also sad to realize some of the pain has been deep-rooted since the post-election violence in 2007. As a counselor, I felt a real need for psychological assistance and will walk with Rescuebnb to see that we have made the needed impact.
Needs vary from medical assistance, education sponsorship and training on vocational skills. In the name of humanity, let’s help where we can. And be the change we would like to see in the world. There was one lady who had a one-month-old who at night has breathing problems, following tear gas that somehow got to her house. This same lady lost her child three months ago to Pneumonia. She is immensely traumatized and in need of psychological help and medical assistance. With the help of Rescuebnb and all their supporters, I am confident to say we will follow-up on this case and many others on the field. Looking forward to working more with Rescuebnb. Thank you for identifying that deep-rooted need. Blessings. Thanks to the Octopizzo Foundation for support.
How has social media helped in the pursuance of the mission?
The initiative was born of social media. It is at the heart of our mission, as it has helped us crowd fund through M-changa, source for donations and for partnerships. As of August 21st, the funds raised on M-changa stand at Ksh. 345, 239 and on M-pesa ksh. 84,862. All the information on donations and expenditure is available to the public on Google docs.