Reduce spread of COVID 19 in Kenyan communities

by Communities Health Africa Trust
Reduce spread of COVID 19 in Kenyan communities
Correct mask wearing by CORP Ntoijoni
Correct mask wearing by CORP Ntoijoni

* Not their real names

“When I got a call from school the first thing I thought is - my daughter, *Kendi, had done something wrong.” *Nkirina started. “My mind rushed to all the stories I always hear from parents about how their children are expelled or suspended. On the other hand, I was worried as schools have been shut down due to burning and vandalism. In my absent-mindedness, the phone stopped ringing and I had to call the teacher back.

Her voice was full of concern. She requested that I stay calm as she tells me what was going on. She said that my daughter was in isolation in school since she had signs and symptoms of COVID. They were collecting samples for testing and they would share the results with us later. My heart immediately sank and I could not believe that after two whole years, March 2022 is when she got it! My mind was racing. Was she going to get worse? Will she recover? Will the results be positive or is it bad flu?

Knowing the possibility of her having C-19 meant I could not see her or bring her back home. She would undergo treatment at school and the only way we could communicate was through windows and at a distance. The following morning, the results were shared with us which confirmed the worst. She had it. I knew it had come from the interactions at the matatu (mode of public transport)  stage or from other students since they share a lot of the school’s amenities. Being a person who always complained about masks, I realised that I had been a bad example. Had I taken more precautions and followed the guidelines, then my Kendi would have followed them too and prevented this sad ordeal.

I blame myself especially since on closing day as I was picking her up from school, I met CORP Mercy Mwari giving out masks and hand sanitisers to students while emphasizing the importance of following all the protocols. I quickly dismissed her telling Kendi that there isn’t any more C-19 she would just waste our time! Although she got better, I still worry about the long-term side effects that she might get.

Although not rampant as before, C-19 is still there. Many of us have gone back to living a normal life and have forgotten the severity of this disease. Please let us take care of ourselves for our own sake!” She finished.

CHAT reached a total of 31,811 people with integrated family planning & COVID 19 behaviour change communication (bcc). CORPs continue to make and follow up on referrals and distribute face masks, soap, and hand sanitisers.

"When we wear a mask, you'll be saving a life. That life could be your own, or someone who means a lot to you" Ron Baratono

 

                                                                                                                                

CHAT CORP assisting a mother to put on her mask
CHAT CORP assisting a mother to put on her mask
Sanitizing as a safety measure against C19
Sanitizing as a safety measure against C19
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CHAT CORP demonstrating the use handwashing system
CHAT CORP demonstrating the use handwashing system

 

Not their real name *

It had been two days since  Pastor Ndegwa* had been seen or heard. This was quite peculiar since he always played loud gospel music every morning while preparing for work. After that, he usually took his sweet time to polish his shoes at the doorstep while engaging in useless banter with the neighbours around. The children loved to play with him. It was worrying for no one to see him for more than a day.

Esther Akeno, CHAT CORP, and the other neighbours decided to knock down his door after knocking for over an hour without a response. The door had been locked from the inside, so they were sure that he was in. Once they got in, they found a frail-looking man sweating profusely. He had a high fever and had not eaten for two days. He had only survived on water which took him all his strength to drink. Despite the high fever, he was shivering and asking for more blankets to shield himself from the cold. His usually very loud voice was no louder than a whisper. The neighbours quickly took him to the hospital. None of them had thought of protecting themselves in case it might be COVID 19.

After going through tests, indeed, he did have C-19. It was no question as to where he had got it from. Being someone who interacts with myriads of people daily, it was not a shock, but as to who among his faithful flock had passed it, was the mystery. Ndegwa* was started on treatment as the rest of the neighbours quarantined themselves to ensure that they were safe with their families. Since Esther had already sensitised and taken all her neighbours to get vaccinated, they were not worried.

Pastor Ndegwa* recovered a few days after Christmas. Although he had celebrated Christmas on a hospital bed, he was determined to end the year with a flourish! He invited all his friends to church, but he was very strict with observing the C-19 protocols. He ensured adequate social distancing, sanitising and that everyone had masks on. He confirmed everyone’s temperatures were taken. He was on the front line sensitising and referring his congregation for vaccines to ensure they were fully protected. He kept saying that experience was the best teacher and as a survivor of the deadly virus, he was not going to let anyone he knows go through the agony he did.

CHAT reached a total of 30,128 people with integrated family planning & COVID 19 behaviour change communication (bcc).

CORPs continue to make and follow up on referrals, distribute face masks, soap, hand sanitisers. They provided hundreds of 5 litre & 20-litre containers for constructing simple hand-washing stations for C-19 prevention.

“We are encouraged by the rollout of safe and effective vaccines, but the truth is simple: No person is safe until all — everyone, everywhere — are safe, and no country is safe until all countries are safe. Only by working together can we ensure that no one is left behind. Only by working together can we recover better and build a world where everyone thrives in peace, dignity, and equality on a healthy planet. It is possible, together.” Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations

 

 

Screening for C-19 during door-door sensitization,
Screening for C-19 during door-door sensitization,
C-19 sensitization by CORP at market places.
C-19 sensitization by CORP at market places.
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CHAT CORP helping a woman put on a mask
CHAT CORP helping a woman put on a mask

“Last August has to be the most memorable month in my life. Not that something good happened, but because it was the most scared I have ever been.” CHAT CORP partner Agnes shared. “On a typical Wednesday morning, I had gone to the health facility, as usual, to follow up on some referrals I had done the previous week in the community. I first found the nurse asleep on her desk! I wondered what was wrong. I touched her hand to wake her up, but to say that it was burning up is an understatement. She was wheezing, and since she is asthmatic, I thought she was having an attack. I went to the outpatient department to seek help only to find the clinical officer on duty shivering and complaining that it was too cold. It was a sweltering day to be saying it’s cold, so I decided to take his temperature and alas, it was high too! 

I did not think it might be severe and just called another nurse to help with the two. Though he kept saying he was feeling lethargic, he managed their symptoms and let them rest for some time. Barely had three hours passed and the observation room was almost full of facility workers. They presented the same symptoms of high fevers, body aches and shortness of breath. Those remaining thought it might be safe to take C-19 samples for testing for those in the observation room. Taking measures to wear protective gear and closing the facility to do the test - just in case they turned out positive. All the people who had contacted them were held back and asked to quarantine until they had the results.

When the results came back, they were all positive. I was scared because I had interacted with them and had been to their spaces, so I might have contacted it, just that it was too early to tell. Everyone provided a sample for testing. They put the positive ones in isolation; as they recovered, the rest sat in quarantine, waiting out their fate. 

In the end, I was among the lucky ones. Not being present in the facility for some days doing a door to door sensitisation saved me. I was scared and worried for those that got it. Though they managed to recover after some time, they struggled with the whole process. This experience gave me even more reason to encourage the community members to get vaccinated. Were it not for the vaccine I had, maybe it would have been worse for me!”

 

CHAT reached a total of 30,128 people with integrated family planning & COVID 19 behaviour change communication (bcc).

 CORPs continue to distribute face masks, soap, hand sanitisers, provided 5 litre & 20-litre containers towards constructing simple hand-washing stations for C-19 prevention.

“I believe that ethically everyone should take the vaccine. It is an ethical choice because you are not only gambling with your health, with your life, but you are also gambling with the lives of others.”

Pope Francis

Sanitizing clinic tent before service provision.
Sanitizing clinic tent before service provision.
Observing social distance during health education.
Observing social distance during health education.
Giving PPEs/screening fo C19 in the community
Giving PPEs/screening fo C19 in the community
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CORP Rosie doing sensitization in the village
CORP Rosie doing sensitization in the village

* not their real name

"When the year 2021 started, most of us disregarded the C-19 prevention protocols." Lisa* Started narrating. "We assumed because a lot of programs like schooling were resuming, that it had gone away. My friends and I decided to go on a road trip to enjoy ourselves after a long year of being 'too cautious'. We could not of cared any less. We did not observe any social distancing even with strangers in crowded places. We just wanted to have fun and kept convincing ourselves that we could only live while young”.

Lisa went on to say, “After our trip, we all went back to our normal lives not considering that we may have contacted COVID - after all, it had 'ended'!  A few days later I started feeling lethargic and just sickly. One moment I was cold the next I could not stand having clothes on. I did not understand what was happening to my body. I developed a cough and was always short of breath. I decided to go to the hospital. After explaining myself I was immediately referred for tests as the doctor suspected either TB or C-19 and true to his suspicion, on getting my results back I tested positive for COVID”.

Lisa continues “I knew I had only interacted with my friends, otherwise I had been at home most of the time. I called to confirm if they were okay and 3 out of 8 were not feeling okay. We decided that those who were okay would quarantine themselves just in case and those that were showing signs got tested and if positive they isolate so that they would not spread it to other people. It dawned on me that Rosey, CHAT CORP partner, who lives in the same area as me, was not wrong when she kept calling to ask me if I had a mask on and if I was keeping safe. Being the young carefree person I am, I almost thought she was annoying and wished she'd stopped pestering me. Oh, how I wish I knew she was trying to save me the suffering!”.

“Though my symptoms did not get very severe and could be managed through home-based care, it was difficult to get help at most times. Only Rosey would come in full gear to check whether I was feeding and if I was taking my medication as advised. Other people feared that even by having a phone call I could end up infecting them. I realized that even though we had all the information, there was some sort of stigma. Rosey had a huge task to mitigate myths and misinformation ahead - to get people in our small village to listen and understand that with proper protection, while interacting with a confirmed case, they could not contact C-19, that once I get healed, they cannot get it because I no longer had the disease, and best of all is if they got vaccinated, they had a better fighting chance. I regret the carelessness."

CHAT reached a total of 29,993 people with integrated family planning & COVID 19 behaviour change communication (bcc).

CORPs distributed face masks, soap, hand sanitizers, provided 5 litre & 20 litre containers towards constructing simple hand-washing stations for C-19 prevention.

 

"The caution that existed in the spring has more and more been replaced by hugs and parties, bus trips in rush-hour traffic, and an everyday life that, for many, seems to return to normal. What we do right now, we will be glad of later. What we do wrong now, we will suffer for later."

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven

Community handwashing system for C-19 prevention.
Community handwashing system for C-19 prevention.
Door to door C-19 sensitization.
Door to door C-19 sensitization.
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CHAT CORP helping a child put on a mask
CHAT CORP helping a child put on a mask

* not their real names

As the year started, *Mwanzia could not help but worry about his four children. Kamuongo, his village with a fast increasing population, is a growing centre of business. According to the government, it was now time for children to go back to school after the long break. He kept on wondering how the children would keep safe from contacting C-19 considering the classrooms were crowded.

As he was seated outside his home, CHAT CORP partner, Susan Nzakye approached him. She wondered why the man looked worried while everyone else was happy about starting a new year. Susan decided to talk to him and find out what the issue was. Mwanzia explained his children were going back to school and that meant school fees for all of them. Having had a rough year in his small retail shop business in 2020, money was tight. He had to get the children some new school uniforms since a yearlong growth spurt meant they could not fit into the old ones. Besides, the children had to have face masks and they also had to sort out the handwashing situation at school.

Susan, being prepared, told him not to worry. She had some masks in her backpack which she gave him for each of his children. She also told him of how she was supposed to be going to the school for the first week to help sensitize the teachers as well as the pupils. She told him of the government's temporary solution of separating the classes with some children taking their classes from outside and others remaining in class thus ensuring that the children can maintain social distancing. She told him of the various handwashing stations that had been set around the school to help with the handwashing at any time and of course, they had soap for this.

Mwanzia was happy to know that measures were being taken by the school. He was now sure his children were going to be safer from contracting C-19. He could not help but wonder how other children whose parents could not afford to buy them masks, what they would do and she told him not to worry, she had foreseen the problem and had some other C19 prevention kit that she would distribute within the school and good thing her church women’s group had offered to sew some for the less fortunate!

"I now agree with the cabinet secretary for health that fighting C-19 is a social responsibility. How you have thought of the children shows that if we all did the same for our neighbours we would easily beat corona!" Mwanzia was happy. His day seemed to be getting better. He invited Susan to sit with him for a cup of tea as his wife came to join them. Susan sensitized them on various methods of family planning to ensure that they do not have a family larger than they could manage and by the time she was leaving their home she was with his wife on their way to the dispensary for a five-year contraception protection implant.

CHAT reached a total of 23,993 people with integrated family planning & COVID 19 behaviour change communication (bcc). CORPs distributed face masks, soap, hand sanitizers, provided 5 liter & 20-liter containers towards constructing hand-washing stations, and received gun thermometers helping to screen for signs and symptoms of COVID 19.

"When we wear a mask, you'll be saving a life. That life could be your own, or someone who means a lot to you" Ron Baratono

A youth using a handwashing station set up by CORP
A youth using a handwashing station set up by CORP
Door to door C19 screening
Door to door C19 screening
Mask issuing at a shopping centre by CHAT CORP.
Mask issuing at a shopping centre by CHAT CORP.
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Communities Health Africa Trust

Location: NANYUKI, LAIKIPIA REGION - Kenya
Website:
Project Leader:
SHARON WREFORD-SMITH
NANYUKI, LAIKIPIA REGION Kenya
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