Home Office

There is not a lot of space at our house. When I work at home the porch that we built is my home office. The view is not bad!

Doing some COVID virus review

Do You Like to See People . . .

. . . hurt themselves in videos? I am a sucker for all those videos of people falling off swings, crashing skateboards, etc. This is not quite the same thing, but if you want to see someone suffer a little bit, here is a clip of me allowing the lab to practice doing a nasopharyngeal swab on me so that they can do adequate COVID virus tests. Its not comfortable.

Rainy Season

Rainy season started last fall (US fall), and then it was supposed to stop. It never stopped. We missed our dry season. Now the long rains have started and it has rained and rained and rained. The Nairobi flies are in plague mode as are the grasshoppers and locusts. Mud for the next 3 months until about the middle of July. We hope to come home this summer just as the rainy season ends, but that will depend on the end of the COVID season. Still no COVID cases in our hospital, although we may be catching more cases of TB!


Rainy season


Going into the COVID ward or preparing a pizza?

Recent Safari

Back at the end of February a friend from Peru came for a conference in Kenya. He ended up being just about 30 minutes from where we live. I met up with him on his last day in country and we went to Nairobi National Park, which is a national park right outside of Nairobi city. It probably is one of the only places in the world where you can see skyscrapers in the background while looking at lions and buffalos in the wild. Just thinking about some fun times from before we all got stuck in our respective homes. Nairobi has been quarantined for another 21 days. I hope for the people’s sake things open up soon. People are getting hungry and a little desperate.


Brendan in Kenya all the way from near our old home in Curahuasi, Peru


This lion looked a bit hungry. Don’t make eye contact from our open walled truck


Nairobi in the background

Helpful Information


I have nooooo idea what it means to live in poverty although I see it all the time.

I helped a local youth buy a motorcycle (piki). He was so thankful because with that piki he can earn a reliable $3.50 each day giving mototaxi rides. That is enough to provide his family with food. He recently had his piki impounded by the police because they said he was driving it after curfew (he denies this and says it was around 5 PM – there is a good chance the police are using the curfew as a way to line their pockets during this time of financial stress). They were also upset because he was driving without a face mask. He told me there was no way he could afford a mask because they cost $1.00 which is an incredible amount of money for him. He also was asking if I could help him with $10 dollars to get his piki out of the impound lot, which was completely unattainable, especially now that his piki was impounded.

Despite living around it, I cannot understand what it is like to live with this type of financial stress. True poverty is inconceivable for an American.

Have We Had it Already?

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MOdel United Nations

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This is a picture from the Model United Nations that David attended approximately two months ago. One week later he was out of commission with cough, fever, fatigue. He stayed in bed for two days, and then his cough lingered for about two weeks. Of course we knew about corona virus at the time, but there were no cases in Kenya that were confirmed. But at that MUN there were students from multiple countries in Africa and Europe. We know young people have minimal to almost no symptoms most of the time, so there could have been asymptomatic carriers. A few days after David recovered some, I felt bad, Sarah felt bad, and Peter had a worsening cough. I think it was likely just a viral bronchitis that David had, but sometimes I wonder if this infection has already made a first pass through Kenya when our infection numbers do not seem to be growing as fast as they should compared to other parts of the world. I would do an antibody test on our family if I could.

It is the weekend. Next week I cover the COVID virus ward, and I am looking forward to it except for all the clothing changes it requires! It is a good opportunity to show again this humbling photo!


The old woman!

Straight out of Exodus?

There are some good pictures in the first article. The second has some points of interest as well. I don’t think we have to worry about locusts where we are, but I do not really know. I have seen some that look just like this outside our house, but nowhere near the numbers you see in the pictures included in the articles.

Screen Shot 2020-04-17 at 2.18.48 PM

Double trouble for East Africa as locusts to come back 20 times strong – Standard Digital News: A swarm bigger than that witnessed last year is set to rise from Kenya into southern Sudan and Uganda owing to the widespread rainfall witnessed in March . . .
— Read on www.standardmedia.co.ke/mobile/amp/article/2001368306/locusts-to-come-back-20-times-strong-fao-warns

How Do You Manage This

This is the big question that is not being answered as much as we wish it were.

From the AFP News Agency . . .


Nairobi (AFP) – Women and children fell to the ground, bloodied and trampled in a desperate surge for food being handed out in a Nairobi slum, as police fired teargas and men with sticks beat the hungry.

As African countries grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, observers warn that the traumatic scenes which played out last Friday will not be the last if governments fail to help millions of urban poor who live hand-to-mouth.

“I give them (the government) one to two weeks before things get worse. Not in terms of coronavirus, but in terms of hunger,” said Kennedy Odede, who runs Shining Hope For Communities (SHOFCO), a grassroots movement which works in the Nairobi slum Kibera and other informal settlements in Kenya.

“If it continues like this, we might be playing with fire.”

Kenya has so far cordoned off the capital and parts of its coastline and imposed a night-time curfew and other social distancing measures.

Many of these restrictions are having a wrenching impact, causing loss of jobs among the poor, said Odede.

While President Uhuru Kenyatta has wielded the threat of a full lockdown to get citizens to comply with the rules, officials admit it is an agonising choice, especially as 60 percent of Nairobi’s residents live in slums.

“Locking up people in the slums will be the last option. A lot needs to be done before that,” a high-ranking security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

– ‘Unenforceable and unsustainable’ –

The coronavirus arrived late in Africa, but is slowly taking hold with over 15,000 cases and 800 deaths across the continent.

While much of the developed world waited weeks to begin taking action, countries in Africa rapidly shut borders and banned mass gatherings.

Mauritius, Rwanda and Tunisia were the first to impose full lockdowns — with Mauritius going so far as to shut supermarkets and bakeries for 10 days.

South Africa is the biggest economy on the continent to completely confine its citizens, while Nigeria imposed lockdowns on Lagos — the continent’s largest city — and its capital Abuja, which on Monday were extended for another two weeks.

Both have millions of people packed tightly in urban slums.

“The inevitable reaction has been to follow what the rest of the world is doing,” said Jakkie Cilliers at the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies (ISS), who has called for Africans to come up with a “unique solution” to stave off the virus.

“A lockdown is unenforceable and unsustainable across much of Africa. You are trying to do something that is not possible and you are condemning people to a choice between starving and getting sick.

“It’s not possible for 10 people living in a tin shack… to not go outside for three weeks.”

– ‘Make ends meet’ –

In sub-Saharan Africa, Liberia and Zimbabwe have also imposed full lockdowns.

However most nations across the continent have stopped short of forcing all of their citizens to stay indoors.

Madagascar and Ghana have completely locked down selected regions and towns, while Senegal, Mauritania, Guinea, Mali, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Niger have imposed states of emergency and night-time curfews.

Like Kenya, Benin has cordoned off key cities — preventing movement in and out — while the capitals of Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Niger are also cut off.

Ethiopia, with a population of over 100 million, has closed borders and schools and discouraged large gatherings, but has yet to restrict citizens’ movement.

“We can’t impose a lockdown like more developed nations, as there are many citizens who don’t have homes,” said Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

“Even those who have homes have to make ends meet daily.”

On the other end of the spectrum are Burundi and Tanzania, where life largely continues as normal and whose governments have so far downplayed the dangers of the epidemic.

“Coronavirus should not be a reason to destroy our economy at all,” said Tanzanian President John Magufuli.

– ‘Ineffective and unproductive’ –

Experts agree that for the different levels of confinement to work in Africa, significant state support is needed — a challenge in a continent where many countries are already heavily reliant on donor aid.

Kenya has lowered taxes and is delivering free water to slums, Senegal’s government is paying electricity bills and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has urged landlords to let people live rent-free until the crisis is over.

However political commentator Rachel Strohm said such measures mainly benefit people “in the formal sector”.

In Lagos, Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa and elsewhere, governments are distributing food, however often only to a “fraction of the vulnerable”, said Strohm.

She argued that many of the measures taken are “ineffective and unproductive” — curfews on top of transport restrictions create greater crowds as citizens rush to get home in time, and thus enhance the risk of infection.

Strohm and Odede back the idea of direct money transfers to citizens — especially to avoid the inequality and chaos of food distribution.

Foreign donors — battling their own virus-induced economic crises — will need to step in, they say.

Cilliers argued you need to try and “get the maximum economic activity going so people can survive, but try to keep opportunities for infection limited.”

Another solution to avoid complete lockdowns and economic collapse is mass testing, with South Africa so far the only country seeking this approach.

But only around 70,000 tests have been conducted so far, a level that is still “way too low”, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has admitted.

The majority of countries are still only able to do limited testing.

Meanwhile, ever-stricter measures across the continent have led to a rise in police violence as authorities struggle to get desperate citizens to comply.

“I think we will continue to see excesses and relatively substantive brutality,” said Cilliers.