Sitting It Out

March 20, 2020

As we sit indoors to minimize social contact with the outside world, we have a lot of time to read and to catch up with family members and friends that we have not been in contact with for a while. We have also made it a point to check on our Valvisions’ girls, talking with them on the phone releases some of the tension that we are all going through. Life teaches us a lot of lessons, being immobile has taught us to appreciate the little things that we often take for granted. We now greet our neighbors through the windows. Due to the worldwide pandemic (COVID 19), we can’t go and spend time with our neighbors and friends physically. When we go out for house supplies, we rush in and out of the supermarket minimizing small talk as much as possible.

Due to the fear and related stress resulting from the unknowns associated with the corona virus, mental health issues are on the rise. Men, for instance, are sitting in the house from morning to evening- not something they are used to doing. They are steadily getting bored and instead of enjoying quality family time, there is, instead, rising tensions. There are increasing reports of domestic violence. Couples are not used to being together for so many hours. Being away from home and working in an office during ordinary times, seems to help relationships. Familiarity breeds contempt, as it is said, and absence tends to make the heart grow fonder.
Keeping busy is key; finding something that works for families is important. The children are getting very bored. Staying indoors does not provide the children physical release from pent up energy. Being cooped up drives them to need constant diversion from varying sources of entertainment.

Some of the girls in the Choice Club program have been calling. They are getting anxious especially those who were due to sit their final exams this year. They feel that missing school for so long is going to work against their success, and at this point, we do not know when schools will open. We do our best to reassure them. We check on them as often as we can. They appreciate the talks and so do their parents. I have advised them to secure reading materials from the Internet, and to revise what they have been studying since Form 1 as the exams are usually formatted from past lessons. We are also encouraging them to call their teachers who can better guide them as to particular areas to study.

We plan to have all the career guidance charts drawn on the school walls by the time schools resume. We need to place the charts in strategic areas where all the students have easy access to review them. Drawing on the school wall is better and longer lasting than drawing on manila paper. We will also take this time to prepare questions that we will use to gauge how the students’ lives have been impacted by what we teach.

Though we cannot physically meet to discuss the material, we can do this through skype. Some of the club patrons have called me asking that we get ready to speak to all the girls in the school when they finally re-open because many of the students are traumatized by what is going on both in Kenya and the world at large. Some will need counselling especially those that have had family members or people they know who have been or will be affected. We pray that this pandemic will come to an end soon, and we can move on with our lives. The fear is almost becoming paralyzing. When someone gets a flu symptom, panic too often ensues.

A curfew has now been imposed here. We are to be indoors from 7pm to 5.30 am. This has brought a lot of anxiety as most of the manual laborers cannot make it home on time. The army is out whipping those that are caught past the curfew hours. Again, the less hours they work means less income. With children at home, the home budgets have shot up. Parents need all the income they can get to feed the children and take care of other bills. Police brutality has been reported in many areas which is making the over-all situation worse.

Police fire tear gas and beat commuters with batons as the country imposes dusk-to-dawn measures amid the coronavirus fight.


Police force ferry passengers to lie down after firing tear gas and detaining them in Mombasa, Kenya [The Associated Press)

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