Kenya 3 ー 5 things I learned from going out on the street 6 times during COVID-19 pandemic

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It’s been almost 2 months since I started tele-working in Nairobi, Kenya where there is a curfew between 7pm-5am (semi-lockdown). During this time, I had to go out on the street.

Honestly I didn’t want to, but I had to. So I did it, not once but six days in a row.

As not many people (even residences in Nariobi, let alone people outside Africa) can see what is going on on the street of Narirobi, let me share my experience and learning in this entry.

Why I went out during semi-lockdown

You may think I am stupid to go out 6 times. But it was necesary to withdraw USD for my rent payement, and the only place I could withdraw was my work (I am sure there can be other option). And there is a limitation of money you can withdraw per day, so I had to go there several times to live in a current house (in a way it was a necessary measure).

I knew it was better to go sooner than later before risk of infection increase.

The Kenyan government now requires everyone to wear a mask outside (even in a car), and if you are not following, you get fine and/or jail sentence (I have no idea about how the situation of jail is now).

So I gave it a try to leave. I became extra-prudent to keep distance. I also watched a video on how wide virus can spread, even when someone is not coughing but when talking out loud (phone call).

Things I kept in mind on the street during COVID-19

  • Wear a mask (I don’t want to go to a jail)
  • Keep distance at least 3m (I know officially it was 1.5-1.8m but just for precaution)
  • When someone talks, hold your breath (I assume it doesn’t have a scientific evidence)
  • Do not touch objects
  • Think about the wind to avoid any virus
  • Choose the road with few people (this entry’s focus)

How my mission went

When I avoid people, I did not want to look obvious. As an ex-actor, I had to act as naturally as possible (!). In addition to mask, I wore glasses and hat to limit exposing asian appearance, which looked like below image.

I know, it’s quite strange. But this is a serious mission.

Let’s get started!!!

Remember to keep physical distance!!

Sometimes you cannot avoid someone from coming towards your direction.

The principle is to keep the distance but stay natural!!

Risk mitigated!! Done!

Hahaha! I did it.

Oh, Here comes another group. Oh, there are two to avoid, especially the one talking out loud (phone talk).

Well done on double trick!!

These are just a few examples (I don’t remember how many times I changed the lane).

Finally, mission complete!!
I repeated this for 6 days in a row, and more than 3 weeks have passed since the last time, and the fact that I am safe and well means I did pretty good job, and learned many things!

5 things I learned from going out on the street during pandemic.

In Japan, people still take trains with full of people for work. Having said that, Japan is still a fortunate case compared to other countries without basic service. The fear, job lost, sick people getting discriminated/stigmatized, this pandemic is beyond who get infected across the globe.

From these mini-missions, I learned many different things, and below are 5 things I learned.

  1. Mindfulness 
    Usually when I walk on the street, I listen to Podcast to learn things, and probably I am looking down. But this time, I stayed cautious about surrounding to see who is coming from where. This gave me opportunity to realize very simple but important things: sky is blue, tree is green and birds are flying regardless of COVDI-19. I also have a home to stay, food to eat and water to drink. Everyday is precious and I have many things I need.
  2. Listening/watching over speaking 
    As I had to react to people on the street, I started thinking about the importance of listening to and watching people. This got me thinking that we tend to focus on what we will say, instead of listening to others and watching their non-verbal communication to respond. There is a reason why we have 2 sets of ears and eyes as opposed to 1 mouth. The importance of listening and watching, this is something what I reassured.
  3. Audience-based approach 
    In the same vein, we tend to ignore audience. After coming back to home, I got back to telework and lots of video meeting, and some people (not all) don’t seem to care about the audience. I have to be careful of not being the one.
  4. Being nice and honest 
    I wanted to be prudent about not being obvious about avoiding people. When I realized that some people also did the same to be polite, I felt good. So I would try to stay polite in many different things, while still being honest about what I want to do (mitigating risk).
  5. Taking care of yourself
    All of the above could be realized and will be kept, mainly because I took action to go out, which was made possible because I am still healthy. My job involves helping others (at least I try), which is also possible when I am well. Take care of yourself first before helping others, that is the principle. It might sound egoistic but that is true if you want to help someone in the long run.

The learning of this time 

During this COVID-19 pandemic, I had to go out on the Nairobi street 6 days in a row, and by paying attention to physical distance, I learned the importance of mindfulness, human-centered and audience approach, being polite/honest and taking care of myself

Thank you for reading this article. If you like it, please don’t forget to subscribe. If you have any comments/questions, please feel free to leave. Have great learning!

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