ONGAJI: Staying at home not a realistic option in fighting pandemic - Beaking Kenya News

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Thursday, 14 May 2020

ONGAJI: Staying at home not a realistic option in fighting pandemic

The coronavirus, COVID-19
Since the first coronavirus case was confirmed in Kenya in March, the Kenyan government, like many administrations around the globe, took various measures to try and keep the virus at bay.
One of the most fronted measures has been maintaining social distancing, a fact that has seen the government and even other private organisations take steps to ensure that most of their staff work from home.
This is all in an effort to reduce overcrowding and contact at work places, thus minimise chances of the spread of the virus.
This initiative brought about a movement of sorts, to try and convince people to stay at home, as celebrities took to mainstream media and social media, to try and disperse this popular message to their fans.
For nearly two months now, messages have been conveyed from living rooms, kitchens and even balconies, as singers, actors and all manner of celebrities came out and try to reach out to their fans and bring home this message.
But even as I do not negate the importance of staying at home based on health experts' advisory, the question remains, what is the reality of majority of Kenyans?
Just how many Kenyans fit this lifestyle that has been portrayed for nearly two months now?
I'm saying this for that gentleman who has to walk from Soweto slums in search of mjengo work so that at least at the end of the day he can go home with his Sh300, or that tout who has to be at that stage to try and make some Sh50 for every matatu he fills.
What about that young lady who has to go to her salon daily, with hopes of getting one or two clients, so that at the end of the day she can put food on the table?
Or that woman who has to wake up every morning, and prepare some porridge to sell, and whose next meal is dependent on the coins she will get from every cup of the drink that is purchased?
This is about that mama nguo who must get out every day and sit on that stone at the corner of the gate, and hope that maybe she will get a client who needs her laundry services.
How do you convince Evelyn, a 30-year-old single mother of four, that staying at home is more safe and useful for her and her children, yet she needs to go out and do laundry work so that she can make that Sh300 to buy food at the end of the day?
Or how can you explain to Florence, a 28-year-old HIV positive single mother of two children, who were born with the virus, that their health is dependent on her staying at home, yet she has to work daily so that at the end of the day, her and her children can get food, thus be able to take their antiretroviral (ARV) drugs?
I remember a statement I read on social media from someone who insisted that people must be forced to stay at home because "we" as a nation, are in this together.
"Going out at the moment isn't so important. We need to stay alive. It is better to stay hungry than sick," it read. This is a very unrealistic and insensitive statement especially being directed to someone who slept hungry the previous night, didn't take breakfast and has no idea where their next meal will come from.
If you have ever come face to face with the pangs of hunger, you will understand that starvation is an emergency that cannot be postponed.
It is offensive for someone sitting at the comfort of their couch, while sipping tea or whatever, while awaiting their salary at the end of the month, to school someone whose income is dependent on their daily struggle, on the importance of staying at home during these times.
Remember, as you go back to your online cooking tutorials, your Don't Rush challenge, Zoom video conferencing discussions, deliberations on how to get your children the best online study apps, or debates about your expanded waistline brought about by the "challenge" of frequenting the fridge instead of working, a gentleman or lady somewhere, wonders what they will take home to their children at the end of the day.
In short, some of us have to get it into our heads that for many Kenyans, daily life is a struggle for survival. This reality that seems to have been swept under the carpet in one of the poorest nations in the world has to be seen.

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