When COVID hit… My Personal Account

When COVID hit… My Personal Account
November 28, 2022 No Comments Lifestyle Kevin Menya

I still recall reading on the socials that’s there’s a disease really hitting hard in China. Like other infections and diseases we’ve heard of while growing up, all I could do was wish the affected areas quick recovery. The first case of COVID -19 was reported in Kenya sometime in March 2020. All learning institutions were ordered to close and so this meant that I couldn’t work anymore. My colleagues and I hoped that this would be contained in a week, or a month if the situation got dire.

What transpired afterwards was a horror script most only got to experience for the first time. Lives were forever changed in a matter of weeks. Quarantine, cessation of movement and lockdowns are words that ran supreme in the Kenyan media. We got used and got tired of the Ministry of Health officials giving daily updates about the number of infections and casualties. We watched with horror as countries like Italy and India bore the full brunt of the pandemic with millions losing their lives.

Compassion vs Custom

There was even a landlord in Juja whose resolve to forego 4 months’ rent for his tenants due to COVID warmed the hearts of millions. I remember one day waking up and seeing a poster pinned on our gate. I rushed to read it hoping our landlord had been touched by what his Juja colleague had done. To my surprise, it was a notice by the land agent reminding us to keep remitting our rent  rent via Mobile Money (MPesa).

A month after the government ordered closure of schools, my boss shared a screenshot of a letter from our employer stating that we were all put under mandatory unpaid leave. We complained, even cursed on our staff WhatsApp group. On the second month, we got we were all fired due to the prevailing conditions that meant we couldn’t generate our salaries.

What does a man do when he has nothing meaningful to do (income generating) for a whole day? A reminder that I had moved in with my girlfriend and were blessed with a beautiful baby girl in August 2019. With a young family, this was a blessing since I would spend quality time with my dear ones. All we did was binge watch TV series, eat, care for our daughter, sleep good and do that on repeat the next day. It was pleasant at first but worry started creeping in on me. My terminal dues could only sustain us for a few months. That’s when I began defaulting on rent payments while buoyed by hope that the government would lift the stringent control measures.

You are a paycheck away from Poverty

Never in my life have I ever received so many hard-copy letters in quick succession. I had two from my employer, and at least three from my land agent regarding my rent arrears. There’s only one thing worse than spending money with zero income – having no money. I was drifting between the two scenarios. I was always at least two months late with rent payments. The situation got worse that I had to start eating into my sister’s savings (she was working abroad and entrusted me to save what she remitted for a common project). I remember a colleague calling me at 10:00am and was so ashamed when he asked whether I was asleep yet the phone call is what had woken me up.

There was even once when a relative called asking whether I always checked on another relative who was upcountry. I told them that I don’t and they replied that I should even just send that relative some sugar if I wanted to experience blessings in my life. When I told them that I had been rendered jobless by the Corona pandemic they quickly changed the subject and never called again.

There were days when I couldn’t sleep because of my financial problems. I imagined myself relocating back to the slums with my family. I wished even if I could find a job for KSh 100 (1 USD) daily wage. My meagre savings were running out fast. I polished my CV, applied for tens of jobs but didn’t even get an acknowledgement of receipt from the recruiting personnel. There are a few friends who understood my predicament and rendered me the much-needed support.

Hope. At last?

With no positive response from my several job applications, I clang to the hope that my employer would recall me once the government gave a green light  for institutions of higher learning to resume operations. This eventually came to be, 9 long months later. By then I had resigned to fate and moved into a smaller house and only spending on necessities. I also set up a small cyber business with a friend that didn’t do well and had to close shop after over 6 months of effort and patience.

What I Learned During the Pandemic

  • The level of respect shown towards you largely depends on how much you own or can give.
  • It’s best to diversify your income streams and save as much as you can.
  • Your family and friends. Keep them close.
  • Things will work out at their stipulated time. God’s time is the best time.

I keep asking myself a question every so often. If another pandemic were to hit, am I better prepared?



About The Author
Kevin Menya For the love of life, positive vibes and everything in between, I keep learning and sharing.
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