The people of Isiolo County like many other counties did not take the pandemic seriously when the government announced the first case of the COVID-19. It seemed like a ‘theirs’ kind of problem therefore the people went about living their lives. In late April someone sneaked out of Nairobi from Eastleigh to Isiolo County and with him, he carried the virus. The disease was no longer just a story but very close home. Within days Isiolo County had moved to having no cases to two cases to four cases. Then and only then did the residents of Isiolo County take the disease seriously.
On the morning of 30th June and 1st July 2020 the women of Faith network saw a practical opportunity to highlight one of guideline as given by the Ministry of Health on social distancing by arranging the participants according to the social distancing guidelines.
That was two months ago; the Isiolo women of faith Network have always had a close working relationship with the County government thus when an opportunity to partner with Diakonia in creating awareness of this dreaded pandemic presented itself, they approached the area Chief of Kiwanjani and Bula Besa.
On the morning of 30th June and 1st July, 2020 the women of Faith network saw a practical opportunity to highlight one of guideline as given by the Ministry of Health on social distancing by arranging the participants according to the social distancing guidelines. The people listened keenly, hanging to every single word that the women were telling them. One could tell they were interested by the questions they asked, one after the other; they wanted to know more about the mass testing, how one could get infected and issues of misconceptions also rose from the questions they were asking. There was fear that testing will lead one and their family and friends to being locked up.
“We had to teach them the meaning of contact tracing and why it is necessary. And on top of that teach them that it important to test; whilst not testing will not get you isolated it doesn’t mean you won’t affect your loved ones. Therefore testing is protecting yourself and the people you love. But at the same time we noted there is need to address this issue more”, noted Halima, Isiolo Women Interfaith, Chairlady.
The need for more masks, sanitizers and information was an indicator that the Isiolo community has come to appreciate and understand the risk which is associated with the issues of COVID-19.
“The fact that people listened, asked questions and did not leave was a clear sign that this was important to them and by extension important to their families. In normal circumstances they would have walked away citing being busy, but this time round they stayed and listened”, added Halima.
The Counties have been opened and with it comes uncertainty, fear and a test of self-discipline. Isiolo County is majorly a business community, people will travel to Nairobi to shop especially in Eastleigh, which means there is need for more sensitization and for women of faith network in Isiolo to embrace different platforms to create awareness of this pandemic.
“There are places like Kinna where people don’t have masks and are interacting with the rest of the people. With the Counties opened there is need to do more sensitization, and a need to replicate the awareness activities in other wards and other parts of the County”, Halima, Chairlady Isiolo Interfaith Network.
By Mary N. Ndulili