By Shadrack Andenga Odinga
The Coronavirus pandemic in Kenya is now taking a new twist, apart from the daily updates of how many have died and how many recovered, or sometimes the billions of shillings unaccounted for, now victims of this virus are speaking out.
Pius Karanja, also known as Shuethe had to fight stigmatization in the month of July after his close associate Musa Otieno was diagnosed with Corona virus.
Otieno, a former Harambee Stars player took the initiative of seeking medical attention and also coming out publicly with his condition, something that took Kenya by surprise causing panic among friends.
His confidant and workmate at his foundation Kick off to Hope Kenya, Pius Karanja also took the initiative to go get tested.
“When I heard about the news, we immediately touched base. The next day I went to the government dispensary in Makadara, Hamza. I was given a clean bill of health and was okay. But in return, some of my friends started mocking me and running away whenever they saw me,” said Shuethe, a former footballer now working as an assistant coach with Musa Otieno.
With the normal routines in life, he cared less about those who talked on his back, but things got from bad to worse when he one day came home and found a different scenario.
“At the plot where I stay, neighbors were contemplating locking me out. I wasn’t late on my monthly payments and they were not the landlord, but according to them I had Corona virus because my friend Musa had it,” a sorry Shuethe said adding that for three days he had to look elsewhere before forcefully coming back to his house.
After a week, he still was okay. Only a few friends dared come near him, but he was sure that the nurses at Makadara, Hamza dispensary did their job well.
It took a while for the world around him to accept him and even now he still has to face stigmatization.
His friend Musa Otieno is back on his feet and they regularly do exercise to keep fit while observing the government regulations.
“At our foundation, we were about 120, but since Musa got infected, we remained about 15. Now slowly people are realizing that this virus is not a death sentence and are coming back to us,” finalized Shuethe adding that at Kick off to Hope kenya, they are now in the process of engaging the community with teachings about Coronavirus, specifically stigmatization.
The government of Kenya has done a lot in its effort to curb this virus, but now as victims are coming out to speak, it leaves many to wonder whether there are any efforts to educate the public on the dangers of stigmatization?