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Making an Impact off the pitch

Victor Wanyama talks of his foundation’s role in countering Covid-19

It’s been a few months now that midfielder Victor Wanyama joined the Montreal Impact from Premier League club Tottenham, but we’ve only recently started to see what the Kenyan international is capable of on the pitch. After signing in February, the Designated Player had time to play just the first leg of the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals against CD Olimpia before the world shut down due to Covid-19, meaning we would have to wait a while longer for his MLS debut.

Now, after six months and eight league games under his belt, Wanyama has shown consistently what he can provide in midfield both offensively and defensively, even scoring his first goal for the club against Toronto FC last week. 

His Impact on the pitch has been undeniable since the restart, but that isn’t the only place the midfield star has been shining. The Kenyan captain has also been playing a very active role countering the spread of Covid-19 in his native country through the Victor Wanyama Foundation.

“The Foundation has been going around the ghettos and the slums of Kenya. As you know, one of the biggest slums in the world is in Kenya,” explained midfielder Victor Wanyama, speaking with Impact Media. “We’re there to educate the children and provide them with masks, also providing them to anyone who doesn’t have any. We are also there to empower women who lost their job due to Covid-19, by providing them with the necessary tools to sew and brand these masks, which ends up creating jobs.”

Through this last initiative, Victor’s Foundation, in conjunction with UN Habitat, who also joined the cause, has been able to provide employment to over 40 women, that have managed to produce over 7,000 masks to help in the fight against Covid-19.

“The most important part for us was to get into homes, educate them about Covid-19, and then provide them with face masks,” said Wanyama. “Because once it gets into the house, once one person has it, it spreads very quickly. So, the education part is extremely important.”

The education aspect, which has become a vital component of the Foundation’s mission, includes teaching the children how to wear the masks properly and how to protect themselves by washing their hands with hand sanitizer or soap and water, but also explaining the general effects of the disease and how dangerous it can be.

“Once you teach them that and they’re aware of the consequences, they can manage to protect themselves well, and that’s our aim,” added Wanyama. “I’m happy that UN Habitat came along and helped me in this cause. We decided to join forces, because UN Habitat thought it was a good initiative, and something that could benefit the people in our slums and help them be safe. We funded the project together in the end.”

Building homes for those in need

Another important branch of the Foundation’s work, especially since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, has been construction of homes for those who need it most. The Foundation has so far been able to build 10 homes for those with nowhere to lay their heads on in Korogocho, Kenya, with the eventual goal being the construction of 50 homes.

“In the ghetto, people who don’t have enough money to build homes, they sleep in holes while sitting up. That’s no good,” said Wanyama. “So, part of the Foundation’s mission now is to try and build homes, so they have somewhere to sleep and take shelter. We’ve built a few of them so far. It costs about $1,000 per home and we’ve built 10, but we’re still pushing for more.”

For Wanyama and his Foundation, it all comes down to empowering the community. Outside of their efforts to counter the virus, a big part of that means providing education to those who need it most and educating communities on the importance of preserving their environment and using it to their benefit. You can learn more about all the work the Victor Wanyama Foundation does on its official website here.

For more information on his fight against Covid-19, here is a report from Kenyan Citizen TV on Wanyama’s initiative with UN Habitat.

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