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How Covid-19 ruined almost perfect trip to Spain amid fear, grief

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When my dad passed on, I was so broken. That was on February 9. His illness took such a toll on me that I suffered anxiety and physical pain.

Family and friends saw the agony I was going through and offered tremendous support.

All along, I had planned a visit to Spain on the invitation of a friend, Becky, who worked in Madrid. I had kept postponing this trip, but after my father died, Becky called.

She had seen it on social media.
She insisted that I go to the Spanish embassy for a visa appointment.

Previously, I had booked such an appointment and cancelled. Now, dad was no more. I didn’t even have the energy to comprehend going for such an interview. But I said, ‘yes’.

I was dad’s favourite girl. He always accorded me special treatment. Then we buried him and my world started crumbling.

I went to the interview before we laid dad to rest and on March 1, even before Kenya had recorded any coronavirus incident, I left for Madrid on Ethiopian Airlines. It was on a Sunday at 5.30pm.

It was perhaps the best decision I’d made for, soon after, airlines started to cancel flights. But Ethiopian Airlines continued to fly.

On arrival, Becky was so happy to see me. It was a cold Monday morning. We hugged. The Uber driver took us to her very dignified residence, all this time oblivious of the Covid-19 cloud that was hanging over Spain.

The next day, we went on a tour of Madrid. The spectacular tourist spots were teeming with people, young and old Spaniards walking around, holding hands.

It was business as usual in Madrid.

We found some musicians performing and tourists cheering on. I knew I’d have fun and heal.

By this time, there were just a few cases reported in Spain — about 65. In Madrid, the residents were following the news on TV and online sites. Were they rattled? No.

Actually, no one took it seriously and my host reassured me that the

Spanish government was always prepared unlike the Kenyan government.

We went out to the parks. No one seemed to care.

Then on Friday, the number climbed to slightly over 200. We were not petrified. Actually, we were to visit the museum but postponed to Sunday hoping the spread would be contained. That’s how much faith my host had in the Spanish system.

But instead, the same government allowed over 9,000 women to demonstrate on the streets. Then, boom! By Monday, the numbers shot to over 1,000.

Then panic set it, albeit slowly.

That weekend, the government asked residents to buy enough food and toiletries. There was panic-buying and supermarkets were restocking. But only few people took precaution.

Football matches were still going on. The bars and parks were packed, with people going on with their lives with careless abandon.

I was not worried at all. Inasmuch as the world news were highlighting the rapid rise in numbers, people were calm. We visited shopping malls, did shopping, and had fun.

It was only after Spain ordered schools closed that it hit me. This is going to be awful. Although I got more depressed, people went about their daily business.

There were fun parks everywhere, with residents walking their kids and dogs. I walked with them and felt relieved.

No one was masked. There is a day I walked for three hours and had to take a bus home. I never saw anyone with gloves or hand sanitisers. Although people were advised to work from home, no one was controlling movements.

By Monday morning, there were around 1,800 new infections in Madrid alone. People started driving out to other northern towns where the pandemic was less pronounced.

For the first time, the media announced that there was traffic jam, which, I was told, was rare in Spain.

PHOTO | AFP
Madrid Civil Protection paramedics in full protective gear wheel away a homeless man suspected of being infected with Covid-19 on Saturday.

People were moving their families out in cars but no testing was being done in the mad rush.

Then there was this big match where 3,000 football fans travelled from Madrid to Liverpool. Indeed, there was a public outcry as to why the authorities allowed it amid all the chaos. Even after announcing a lockdown on March 7. By now the cases had reached over 5,000.

Then my ticket back to Nairobi was cancelled!

I started getting scared. I just wanted to leave. Family and friends were now calling me … enquiring on my safety and urging me to get back home asap! I hoped the situation would improve. I hadn’t even seen the city, nor shopped enough.

I rebooked my ticket but it was cancelled again. Then I went into prayer and fasting, telling God to show me a way out. The updates were scary. More people were getting infected. Then came the deaths. Ambulances that were collecting bodies in the wee hours of the morning raced in the streets.

The chilling cold and fear that I would be trapped in Madrid got so intense, I could hardly sleep. I opted to watch Netflix all night and sleep in the morning.

By the second week, the fright started taking a toll on me. I went on my knees and cried to God. I couldn’t understand why this terrible virus would attack when I was grieving and in a foreign country. I visited the Ethiopian airline offices for a flight booking, but found the offices closed.

Desperate, I decided to skip world news for three days. Now, I was getting nervous and traumatised.

The sirens as medics collected bodies of those who succumbed in their homes kept me awake. The nightmare was real and, somehow, I knew I had to find a way out.

By Daily Nation


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Health

PS Kibicho reveals he contracted coronavirus

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Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho has revealed that he contracted coronavirus and recovered after undergoing treatment.

While addressing mourners in Kirinyaga County on Friday Dr Kibicho said Covid-19 is not a death sentence.

“I tested positive for coronavirus, but I was treated and discharged from hospital,” he said at Gathuthuini Primary School during the funeral service of a local church leader.

“I am a living example. Those who are suffering from the disease should not worry because they will get well,” he said, adding that out of 100 people who contract the disease in Kenya only two succumb to it.

Dr Kibicho advised Kenyans to be tested for the disease because it is curable.

“Kenyans should be tested to know their status so that they can be treated,” he said.

The PS also urged Kenyans not to stigmatise people who have contracted the virus.

“Covid-19 patients should be showed love and not rejection. When the patients are abandoned, they become depressed and may take longer to recover,” he said.

He also underscored the need for everyone to continue observing protocols issued by the Ministry of Health to control the spread of Covid-19.

“People should wear masks, sanitise regularly, wash their hands and avoid crowded places,” he said.

The PS further said that city residents should avoid travel during the holidays.

“If I had power, I would lock Nairobi during the festive season to curb spread of the dis-ease to rural areas,” Dr Kibicho said.


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Business

Carpenter hopes payday in sight in 27-year fight over presidential seats

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For the past 27 years, Solomon Njoroge Kiore has battled with the government over a debt that was initially Sh195 million but has now ballooned to more than Sh500 million in an unpaid bill for presidential furniture he delivered.

Tomorrow (Monday), Mr Kiore will go to the High Court in Milimani hoping that the end is in sight as he is supposed to get a hearing date for a case that has had many twists and turns.

In 1992, Mr Kiore, the proprietor of Furncon, a furniture company, won a government tender to supply presidential furniture but down the line, the deal went sour when the military officials returned the chairs a year after President Daniel arap Moi had used them — allegedly without payment.

The chairs had been acquired through the Ministry of Defence and approved by State House, according to court documents.

The government has denied failing to make the payment and he went to court to seek redress in 2007.

Although Mr Moi used the chairs for a year, Furncon says the military returned them to his workshop.

With the matter dragging through the courts for years, in February 2018, a decision was reached to settle out of court.

But the parties could not agree on the amount to be paid, with the businessman citing lack of goodwill on the side of the state.

Sh527 million

That year, Mr Kiore was seeking Sh527 million, being the price, court costs and storage charges.

He told the court he did not receive any invitation to negotiate a settlement.

Then last year, Symon Yator Cheberek, a military colonel, took over the case after Attorney General Kihara Kariuki appointed him to represent the state in all civil matters in which the Ministry of Defence is a party.

High Court judge Joseph Sergon allowed Col Cheberek to act for the state, but Mr Kiore objected this saying allowing a military officer to take up the matter was tantamount to court-martialling him.

“There can never be a situation where a civilian can be in court one on one with a distinctive disciplined and uniformed force,” he stated in an affidavit on March 25, 2019.

Col Cheberek said he is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya and the Attorney General was in order to appoint him.

Mr Kiore wants Justice Sergon to recuse himself from hearing the matter, alleging bias and citing a 2017 ruling by Justice Philip Mwongo barring the military from taking over the case.

Justice Sergon has declined the recusal plea, saying the claims of bias could not be proved.

 Now, Mr Kiore says his business has died, as he can no longer use the premises where he has kept the chair as it is an instrument of power.

“It was used by a President for a year. It is treasured and therefore no one is supposed to touch it. My business has suffered immensely because of this seat,” he says in his court documents.

In a letter dated May 10, 2001, the Attorney General informed Mr Kiore that the Department of Defence had extended a without-prejudice offer purely out of honour and respect for presidential instruments.

“However, having realised that your claims include other items worth millions of shillings reflective of your other financial issues not related to the chair in question, it has not been possible to formally make the offer to you,” states the letter signed by V Onyango, a deputy litigation officer at the State Law Office.

Admission of liability

The offer, the officer states, is not the government’s admission of liability, because “the said chairs were ordered by the Agricultural Society of Kenya”.

The September 1992 deal was not the first. Mr Kiore’s company had sold furniture for VIP use in State functions to the government before.

He says the seat was made under strict supervision of the military and State House staff.

The firm says it was asked to make more furniture for presidential lounges at the Eldoret Moi Airbase and Kahawa Garrison and deliver the chairs to the Agricultural Society of Kenya offices in Nairobi for a three-day presidential function.

But the President ordered that the furniture remain at the ASK offices, according to a letter by the ASK dated August 5, 1999.

Now, Furncon wants a declaration that the ownership of the items was passed on to the government in September 1992, under the National Flag, Emblems and Names Act and as such they are instruments of power.

by nation africa


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Business

Go Green na Optiven

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It is the responsibility of everyone to tender and care for the planet for better and healthier future generations.

 

We call upon you to join any of these categories:

 

1. Those who are more environmentally friendly

 

2. Those who are ecologically responsible in both their decision making and lifestyles

 

3. Those who protect environment

 

4. Those who protect and sustain the natural resources in their area of business

 

5. Those who help to conserve resources like water, air and vegetation

 

6. Those who produce eco-friendly products, thus preventing pollution of our air, water and land

 

7. Those who can prove that they have been using Green Energy/clean energy such as solar power or if using conventional energy; they are using eco-friendly bulbs and that save energy.

 

How can each play a role this is a highlight of just but a few but you can  put your   role that  you are doing  to promote the  green agenda

 

1. Builders/Engineers/Architects/Interiors designers

i. Use of solar energy/ Use of solar panels

ii. Use of Energy saving bulbs, florescent tubes

iii. Use of organic paints, light friendly windows

iv. Use of Eco-friendly toilets

v. Harvesting of rain water from roof tops, use roofs that are Eco-friendly, ensure that water does not go to waste

vi. Proof of reduction of water bills as a result of going green

vii. Water recycling technologies like Bio digester

viii. Those whose provide green buildings, Eco-friendly homes

 

2. Farming, gardening, landscaping experts

i. Use of drip or sprinkler on not flooding water while gardening or farming

ii. Use of organic pesticides

iii. Use of organic manure

iv. Those who increase forests cover

 

3. Health businesses, Schools, Hospitals

i. Those providing natural skin care products & not petroleum or synthetic ingredients on the products

ii. Those offering advice on going green, creating awareness of going green

iii. Those who teach children on being a friend of the earth

iv. Those who buy from ethical farmers who are known to produce organic products

 

4. Transport industry, drivers, delivery companies and logistics firms/organizations

i. Those who reduce carbon emissions directly or indirectly

ii. Any Awareness of climate change

iii. Any knowledge of carbon emissions and how to reduce?

 

5. Property Owners within Optiven Projects

i. Planting of trees in their plots

ii. Adoption of water recycling technology

iii. Establishment of Green Spaces

iv. Proper waste disposal

 

6. SMEs

i. Those who recycle waste

ii. Those manufacturing from the recycled materials

iii. Those who take proper care of electronic wastes

iv. Tech companies that have a green policy on disposal of electric waste

v. SMEs that can prove awareness of global warming

 

7. Families

i. Those who adopt any of the going green initiative say family tree planting, planting a tree during birthday instead of having a birthday cake or doing both

ii. With children who are aware of climate change and also alive to ways of preventing in preventing it

iii. Families that are involved in separation of different form of waste and or engaged in any form of recycling

 

8. Hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, entertainment joins

i. Provision of organic food to customers

ii. Support of local farmers who do organic farming

iii. Awareness of climate change and its risks to humanity

 

9. Decision makers- checking the green component in your venture

i. Any policy decisions on going green

ii. Awareness on global warming

iii. Any knowledge of implementation of United Nations Development Goals

 

10. Children: If you are a child who is school going or otherwise and you have started being sensitive to the planet by doing conservation activities

 

11. Others: If you  believe that you are a friend of the planet, let us know

 

https://youtu.be/45nfQZYQeKU

 

#SaveTheEarth

#SaveOurPlanet

#GoingGreen=Healthy Families

 

George Wachiuri

Trustee

Optiven Foundation

www.optivenfoundation.org


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