It would be irresponsible to underplay the effects of Covid on the nation of Kenya but they are probably not as straight-lined as you might imagine. True, people got sick and died but both governmentally and anecdotally the figures are remarkably low. The reasons are unclear but the civic response was brutal for Kibera; shut down and isolate, thus strangling the already unstable micro economy whilst boosting prostitution and suicide rates. Narcotic use rocketed amongst the young males, the disenfranchised and the vulnerable.
The pre-pandemic fledgling drug rehabilitation and self help groups that we had begun to set up came into their own. Based on strangely archaic and odd ball 12 step narcotics anonymous method, Kibera groups were being developed with some resistance from the quick fix brigades. The notions that addicts are rarely completely ‘cured’ and that the issues of addiction are much more complex than physical dependance, need to be explored and worked through alongside others that are in similar predicaments. Remarkably, those that are further along the road to recovery seem to be the best at carrying the flag and cheering on. Regular meetings that build community are as important as the free hot meal shared with those who are choosing recovery. A schools awareness program is attempting to engage youngsters who are experimenting pre-addiction.
It’s a long road; it’s just 12 steps.
These writings are usually penned whilst in the field working with our friends who live and work in Kibera and it is hoped that they bring insight, understanding and a provocation that the status-quo is unacceptable. Please feel free to unsubscribe or share as appropriate. Any opinions implied or expressed are my own and names may have been changed for the sake of privacy.