For this community health volunteer, fighting COVID-19 is personal

Friday, December 18th, 2020

“If you love your life, it is better to follow what the health officials advise: to protect ourselves by wearing a mask, keeping distance, not shaking hands, and avoiding crowded places.”

This is Celestine Adora’s message, a mother and a resident of Muraka, Kenya, where she works as the local Community Health Volunteer. Used to her typical work of promoting improved health, hygiene, and sanitation behaviors among her neighbors, Celestine never thought she would have a pandemic to contend with. Now, she implores her neighbors to stay safe by following health officials’ advice such as herself and the national Ministry of Health – their lives depend on it; she is sure.

Our team recently visited Muraka to conduct a COVID-19 prevention training and monitor their water point, protected Aliuba Spring. Shortly after, we returned to check in on the community, offer a COVID-19 refresher training, and ask how the pandemic affects their lives. During this most recent visit, Celestine shared her story of how the coronavirus is impacting her life and her community.

Celestine Adora

Field Officer Olivia Bomji met Celestine outside her home to conduct the interview. Both Olivia and Celestine observed physical distancing and other precautions throughout the visit to ensure their health and safety. The following is┬áCelestine’s story, in her own words.

What is one thing that has changed in your community since the completion of the water project?

“The water point gives us clean and safe water for drinking, and this has made me and my family healthy because we no longer get sick from waterborne diseases.”

Fetching water from Aliuba Spring

How has having a clean water point helped you through the pandemic so far?

“I never knew that there would be a point in our lives where a pandemic could affect us. But so far, access to clean water has been our savior because we use water to wash hands, for consumption, and general cleanliness to protect ourselves from COVID-19.”

Celestine at the spring

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Kenya, has fetching water changed for you because of restrictions, new rules, or your concerns about the virus?

“Life changed completely to me because I use more water now in my house than before. Washing hands frequently consume a lot of water, but we thank God we have adequate clean water. We used to gather at the spring with other community members while fetching water, but now we are scared to meet because of COVID-19.”

Celestine helps her youngest daughter put on her mask.

How has COVID-19 impacted your family?

“COVID-19 has made my family bond more. Now we know each other well – though supporting them has been a struggle – we thank God because we have never slept hungry. My children are bored staying indoors for months, sometimes they fight, but later they embrace each other. The greatest challenge here is solving all the issues they fight about every time, though sometimes they learn how to tolerate each other.”

Helping her youngest daughter wash her hands using water from the spring

What other challenges are you experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

“I used to work as a community health volunteer, and I was paid my allowances monthly. Things changed since the emergence of COVID-19 because our allowances were stopped, which made life so hard. I pray that it will be over soon, and we will go back to our normal lives where we could hustle and provide for our families.”

Celestine and her three daughters at home

What hygiene and sanitation steps have you and your community has taken to stop the spread of the virus?

“As a community health volunteer, I moved from house to house to help the community members make handwashing stations. After the COVID-19 training, we ensured that each one of us should wear a mask while going out, and this has helped us a lot.”

Masked up

Like most governments worldwide, the Kenyan government continues to set and adjust restrictions both nationally and regionally to help control the spread of the virus.

What restriction are you still looking forward to being lifted?

“I am looking forward to the curfew to be removed so that we can move from one place to another freely. This will help me do other jobs to support my family.”

Doing laundry using water from the spring

What has been the most valuable part of the COVID-19 sensitization training you received from our team?

“The most helpful part was handwashing and mask-making. This is because we kept on washing hands and wearing masks as we were told, and so far, we are safe from COVID-19.”

This post is part of a new series by The Water Project meant to highlight the perspectives and experiences of the people we serve and how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting them. We invite you to read more of their stories here.

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