Home Features COVID-19: We Never Thought Coronavirus Would Reach Kenya, Krystabell Waringa, Student

COVID-19: We Never Thought Coronavirus Would Reach Kenya, Krystabell Waringa, Student

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Krystabell Waringa takes her ballet pose during Coronavirus lockdown in rural Kenya. She says the pandemic has given her n opportunity to do zoom classes from home

EVERYONE COPES WITH THINGS DIFFERENTLY; I might not know how others have been affected by this deadly pandemic but I hope someone can relate to what I’m feeling. My name is Krysta and I’m 13 years old. The day I first heard about the Coronavirus was when I was sitting in my mom’s office reading my novel. I took my mom’s phone and started watching YouTube videos.

I don’t think anyone ever thinks about how they heard the name or how it appeared on their screens. all I knew was that it would never reach my country. that’s what we all thought

In that time, I had taken the whole thing as a simple disease which was being controlled. Suddenly we had the first case in Kenya. I remember everyone being okay with it and not seeing it as a worry. They were now ten cases and our school sports day was cancelled. We had a talent show coming up which was also cancelled.  Then on Friday we closed school and went home. I don’t think anyone was sad about this, we had all assumed it would only be for a week. We had no idea that none of us would be seeing each other for a very long time.

It had been two weeks of quarantine; tension was building up and I was having difficulty reading. My mum was thinking of going home, to my dad. Mum had predicted that there would be a lockdown in Nairobi so we decided to travel home. I was not given any notice about going home.

Krystabell uses her Ballet skills to cope with the indefinite pandemic-triggered lockdown in Kenya Photo credit

It was about lunch time when my mum called me from work and told to pack for three days and nothing more. I am an over packer and could pack twenty clothes for three days

This time I had decide that I would pack for four days so that my mum would not pick my clothes. I had made a meal for my mum in case she came home feeling tired from her office work. After waiting for a while, my mum finally arrived.                                                                                                                                     

My mum quickly went into the house packed four clothes with an emergency dress and two pairs of shoes. She told me to pack my books so that I could study, I remember frowning a little bit but I decided to listen to her. Mum had never taken ‘no’ for an answer and I doubt she ever will. We got in to the car and we were on our way to Kisumu. We stopped at the mall to get snacks and a vegetable pizza. I remember standing next to the counter and they looked at me as if a ghost was behind me.

At that time, not everyone had a mask, in fact it was very scarce. My mum and I never had one, and they were being sold at a very high price. We were travelling with no masks. We were taking a big risk. We had two masks but they were dusty and dirty. We were in a tough situation, and at that point as a 13-year-old I was scared. The police were all over and I feared we would be stopped.

The police were beating up men, women and children if found after the curfew time which was 7 pm. I had now regretted coming alONG                           

I had finished 4 slices of pizza and was feeling a little sick in the stomach. I remember having to stop multiple times to go to the washroom. At some point a police officer stopped us and demanded KSh1000 [$100] for no reason at all, mum was very annoyed but kept her cool. She gave them the two face masks that were dirty and were supposed to be washed. The police officers did not have any face masks at that time, as I had said before people did not think so much of Coronavirus in Kenya, in fact we were only 26 cases. He asked as some personal questions which I wasn’t comfortable answering.

I felt like every single question he was asking was leading to the point which was if we were coming from Nairobi. When he asked where we were from, I froze. The reason why It was such a big deal at the time was because Nairobi was the only city which had coronavirus cases. “We are just from around here, that’s our home in that corner.” She said with a calm expression.  “Okay you can go.” The police officer said.                                                                                                                                                 My heart was beating so fast but I kept a straight face so that my mom wouldn’t feel worried for me. I never thought I would be in the situation of lying about coming from Nairobi. I felt like I had committed a crime, but I kept a calm face for the sake of my mom.

At some point, I felt like I was going to cry. this was not like going on a road trip. it was like I was being chased by coronavirus. It wasn’t like going to take a break. it was more like running from the situation

It gave me a little bit of a fright to see someone on the road wondering who has Coronavirus and how to avoid them. If you saw how people were acting, it was like nothing was happening. People were hugging, laughing, fighting and going to pubs, clubs and bars while almost the whole world was crying, but I can’t blame any of them, I guess you never realize that you’re lucky until that luck is no longer there. I wasn’t excited, I was feeling angry, why I had to leave home to risk my health and others. The obvious worries were all over my head. What if I had Coronavirus and was going to transmit it to thousands of people? What if I’m going to get infected or exposed when I get to my destination? Will I even reach where I’m going to? These were all the questions no man could answer not even me.                                                          

Lonely man on the bench. Social Distancing is the new norm in most parts of the word as we grapple with COVID-19 pandemic Photo Credit

After two hours, we finally arrived. My mum looked for a hotel to stay in since my grandmother’s place was closed to visits. We also didn’t want her to get sick in case we had the virus. We went around the city looking for a hotel, I guess mom hadn’t prepared so much as I had thought, it was more like a panicking act to come to my dad’s home. After searching for a long time my mum decided to call her friend in the city and ask for any hotels open at midnight. We were then sent the address and drove till the hotel.

The next day we drove an hour to reach home. I was relieved to finally be home, I’m the type of person who floats when I hear the word travelling, in that moment I almost felt sick when I heard we were going to go back in three days, so I made sure I made the most of it. I ran around the compound and played with my dog most of the time, it was like the word school wasn’t part of my vocabulary anymore, besides it was only three days.

Three days became one week, one week became one month. The reason? The country was put on a lockdown                                                                         

I soon realized I was getting a little lazy and took school more seriously. I considered myself lucky because not so many children had the opportunity to use e-learning, most kids who didn’t have books, were depending on the lessons that teachers were teaching and the library books, so I was in shock when my school announced that they would be using zoom.

We had had our first zoom class and it was so exciting. We were supposed to go home but the President postponed the lockdown for another thirty-one days.

My biggest fear right now is not coronavirus, but what the virus will do to us.  I hope schools don’t open while I am still in the other side of the country, but for now, I’m still waiting  

Narrated to Tujipange Africa Media by Krysta Waringa, Age 13.

Tujipange Africa Media is running a series on How Coronavirus has impacted the lives of individuals and communities worldwide.

1 COMMENT

  1. The trials , temptations and horrors of Covid 19 from a child’s experience. This is great write. And in touch with the time’s.

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