You may have seen RescueBNB on twitter and you may be wondering what it is about. RescueBnB is a community seeking to map, match and connect those in need of help with those willing to volunteer, provide sustenance and support following Kenya’s August 2017 Elections. It started at 2 am on Saturday, 12th August when a concerned Kenyan named Sallinder Nyawira @MissNyawira asked anyone on Twitter who was in need of a place to stay due to security concerns, to contact her.
In 24 hours, it grew to a core team of 10 personnel managing various administrative functions, and 100’s of volunteers in Kibra, Kawangware, Dandora, Mathare, Siaya, Kisumu and online. They have a number of partners, and continue to get more help from CSOs, Children’s Homes, Foundations, Kenyan Celebrities, For-Profit Organizations and Religious Organizations.
I caught up with Nyawira to find out more about this initiative that is helping people all over the country to get shelter, and food.
- Why did you start this initiative?
I started this initiative because a colleague of mine was trapped in her house after the election announcement – with no way out and no access to food! She was scared and she needed help. She needed to feel safe and so I felt that I needed to help her and others that were in a position like hers.
I then posted a message on Twitter (which other people) started re-tweeting.
- People can be a bit skeptical about good Samaritan initiatives based on some recent scandals. So, it’s important to know who is behind this project. Who is involved?
This is understandable. However, it’s been such a relief that there are many people who are genuine and just want to help. Host (give someone a place to stay) and Rescue (help out with what you can) is the basis of this movement. I’m not sure if you know that we now have a growing list of people registered to host those in need – without receiving money or even food to feed them. Our volunteers are not paid, and the core volunteers are using their own resources and time. It’s about using what you have in your hands to help someone out – literally in some cases!
I started the entire campaign, and then we now have a small management team and a list of growing partners. Our core team consists of 10 people (largely those who reached out and helped in the initial hours of the movement). They ensure coordination between partners, people on the ground and are working on the website. We have tens of volunteers behind us – it wouldn’t be possible without them.
- How will you account for the money?
The money that has been raised via M- Changa is paid out directly to Paybill numbers and till numbers of wholesalers that we are buying foodstuff and other items from. All receipts are being captured, and uploaded on Google, something which any well-wisher or donor can view.
Where people ask us to help fundraise, such as the Samantha Pendo Medical Bill, we have requested that bills are paid directly to the hospital and well wishers channel funds through the family.
- What have you done so far?
You can go to our website every two days for stats and numbers updates.
Our biggest impact has been in letting Kenyans know there is always hope – we’ve connected volunteers (some of whom really wanted to do something about the plight of others but had no food), counselors, community organizations and individuals who need help. It is humbling.
By the time we were getting into our third day, we had three women (one of them pregnant), and a child in two host homes; 251,000 raised on M-Changa, 61,000 on Mpesa, 170 Care Packets Shared, 8-partners and a growing number of volunteers. You can keep up to date with progress on social media and on our website.
- What have been the challenges coordinating this project?
At first there was a lot of resistance from people of different tribes from mine accepting my help. But, after seeing that my intentions were genuine and reading testimonies from people that we have managed to help that has since changed.
- Why should people give to host rescue? How can people help?
Go to our website, look at where you can plug in. You can share what you have, volunteer and interact with a Kenyan you might have never met otherwise. People should give to #HostRescueKE because it is the Kenyan thing to do. When you are in a capacity where you can give, it doesn’t hurt to help those who cannot help themselves. Go to: www.resuebnb.com and sign up.
- Is there need for such projects in the long term? As in having a database of people who are willing to host others in such a situation?
Yes, I think there is a need for this in the long run because it’s a first of its kind. There will always be those with the ability to help, but sometimes no knowledge of how to help. We are maintaining a database of volunteers and people who are willing to host. Whenever there is need, we will be there – it’s the human thing to do!
- Are people embracing this initiative or they are skeptical? How do you win them over?
I am overwhelmed by the responses we’re getting and to think that it has just been a little over 72-hours! I am so humbled. It goes to show the love and will that Kenyans have for one another and for the betterment of this country. I really didn’t have to win anyone over as our purpose was clear.
- Has there been any backlash over this project or everybody is supportive?
Not that I am aware. However, we have had to make sure that we are very accountable, register all who want to volunteer and send payments to where there are needed. It’s enabled us to use all the donations and funds coming in to help others.
- So what’s next for #HostRescueKE?
We will continue to provide a platform for people who want to help, make a difference and connect with other human beings.
We have “Tech guys” who are building a platform that can be used anywhere on the globe where there is a need. We envision this as a viable tool to help in any crisis. For instance, in coastal towns which have immigrants arriving and people who would like to help. Unfortunately, there are often unexpected disasters across the world. People are always in of somewhere to sleep for a few nights as they figure out their next steps. We look at this as a good way for ordinary people to make a big difference in the lives of others.
If you would like to find out more about Rescuebnb you can follow them on twitter at @Resquebnb, Facebook or you could check for more updates on their website. If you would like to help out you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.