Persons with disabilities bearing the brunt of COVID-19 trauma

As the adverse effects of the CoronaVirus pandemic continue to bite, vulnerable members of the society including persons with disabilities are bearing the brunt.

According to Disabled Empowerment Society of Kenya, Executive Director, Joseph Atela, it has been a big challenge for persons with disabilities as they struggle to adapt to the new normal with the visually challenged being the hardest hit as they have to engage the sense of touch to perform their daily chores.

“The visually impaired bear the highest risk of contracting COVID-19 as they depend on the sense of touch which means they have to touch surfaces which is highly discouraged during this period,” he says.

Atela reckons that most people with disabilities live in informal settlements which poses a higher risk for them contracting the infection.

“The main challenge my organization is facing now is providing persons with disabilities with sanitizers and masks since most of them cannot afford to buy them,” Atela observes.

George Musyoka and Christine Anyango are both visually impaired and depend on the sense of touch to move around. For the two Kenyans who live in the city’s Korogocho slums, theirs is a story of despair and struggle in their daily hustle to put food on the table.

Christine, who was not born blind but was later diagnosed with diabetes which weakened her ability to see, says staying at home is not an option for her since she has to go beg in the streets for something to eat.

As fate would have it, Christine would abandon her trade as a hawker in Nairobi CBD as her vision deteriorated.

According to her, COVID-19 remains a monster disturbingly so close home as she has to touch different surfaces to aid her movement which is highly discouraged to stop the spread of the virus.

For Christine, the cost of acquiring masks and sanitizers is far too high since she spends the little she gets on food and paying house rent.

“Most of the time I do not even wear a mask… I don’t even know what a sanitizer is…the little I get I spend on food.” She says.

“I always walk out of my house with a lot of fear that I might contract COVID-19 but my faith is always on God who protects me.” Adds Christine.

For George Musyoka, the CoronaVirus pandemic has presented a nightmare.

“I live alone and despite being blind I can light a stove and cook for myself. I had largely managed to cope until the outbreak of CoronaVirus.” George bemoans.

George says that staying home to avoid contracting COVID-19 is a difficult proposition as he has to perform odd jobs to eke a living.

“Although I’m at risk of contracting the virus because of touching many surfaces, I have to go out and fend for myself… No one will remember there is a disabled person somewhere and bring me food.” He says.

George is urging society to lend a helping hand to the needy and vulnerable during these trying times.


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