Fighting COVID-19 in rural Chibhoraniland

By Peter Marimi

The day was neither warm nor cool. A southerly breeze ruffled leaves on trees and bushes leaving the dry winter grass swaying to and fro. After putting on my mask I picked my water bucket and headed for the chibhorani. Too late there was already a long queue of thirsty people all eager to fill their water containers with the most precious liquid in the universe. Yes, go to the moon, you will still need to drink some water. 

The main objective for everyone here was to get water. Not a single person was putting on a face mask. You see the insignificantly looking mask is one of the major weapons against COVID-19. Yet here at the chibhorani no one was equipped to fight the deadly virus. Such a small item yet so effective in stemming the outflow of the virus. Of course you need to wash it every time you get back home in case the virus may be clinging onto the little piece of cloth. Along the queue there was a lot of jostling as people fought for their places, a fight that was worsened by unscrupulous queue jumpers who were forcing themselves onto the already disorderly line. The sabhuku’s (village head) third wife was trying to push her bucket under the water pipe although she had arrived when the queue was already twenty metres long. However the women who were near the pump were having none of her obvious corruption.

You could not talk of social distancing here because it was just nonexistent with people being only centimetres or less apart instead of the recommended minimum of one metre. Keeping this social distance the virus will not easily land onto people near me and from them onto my body. What it also means is that we need to avoid physical contact in the form of handshaking, hugging or kissing. Thus greeting each other from a distance will be good enough, more like the traditional greeting of a married man and his wife’s sister-in-law. The physical contact also includes avoiding touching one’s face, especially eyes, the nose and mouth as one can easily infect himself or herself. Here we also see the need of washing our hands with running water and soap or even ashes quite often in order to kill the virus that can be sticking there.

As we move around we are likely to touch this and that including surfaces that may be contaminated with the virus, hence the need for hand washing. Another way of getting rid of the virus from our hands is to use a sanitizer. We can also sanitize our whole bodies, homes, workplaces and even vehicles. Sanitization is another way of effectively killing the virus. Coughing, sneezing and even talking, these are other ways we can easily infect each other. We can therefore cough or sneeze into our elbow to avoid the virus reaching the person near us. A handkerchief or toilet tissue paper can serve the purpose without forgetting to then wash the handkerchief or to throw the tissue paper into a bin that can be closed.

Coming back to the chibhorani where there was no social distancing and no one was putting on a mask one was left wondering how people could still be so complacent when COVID-19 is still with us. By now there is so much awareness through newspapers, social media, radio and TV and other means.

These rural folks cannot be said to know nothing about the dangers of COVID-19. However for them the dangers are out there somewhere quite far away from them. Although I tried to talk about COVID-19 whenever I can people still continue to behave as if COVID-19 is not a threat to their lives. We need to get everyone in Chibhoraniland to observe all COVID-19 protocols otherwise we will be fighting a losing battle.https://masvingomirror.com

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