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“Fear and anxiety is the new rhythm of my life”

Did we offend the universe and now it’s payback time? Why is the earth super angry with us? Is nature finally speaking to us? Well, we don’t know. The only thing we are certain about right now about the Coronavirus is that much is still uncertain.

Evelyn Odhiambo, youth advocate for NAYA Kenya, spoke with Fahe Kerubo, fellow youth advocate and LGBTQ+ and human rights activist, about the uncertainties that COVID-19 brings to her life and that of other LGBTQ+ people in Kenya and around the world.

Fahe shares, “since the outbreak of COVID-19 things have completely changed. I am facing financial hardship because my means of livelihood have been shut down. Currently I cannot meet my bills. Fear and anxiety is the new rhythm of my life. The uncertainties around COVID-19 present a major mental health challenge to me. I am always sickly and have to vomit due to anxiety. But this is not only me. In my circle of LGBTIQ+ young people, getting basic needs (rent, food) is a huge challenge.” Many LGBTIQ+ young people in Kenya live from hand to mouth and without formal salaries. They normally have casual jobs that now have been shut down because of COVID-19. 

On top of this, Fahe flags that “many LGBTIQ+ youth live with non-accepting families and have not been allowed back home regardless of the WHO “Stay at home” preventive measures. Some who are at home are undergoing a lot of further isolation and punishment from extreme parents, siblings and relatives leading to lots of mental health issues.” 

Finally, transgender people on hormonal treatment and on counseling sessions are finding it hard to cope since there are shortages of medications. This is hugely accelerated by the lockdown across the globe. 

About the Authors:
Evelyn Odhiambo, is a Kenyan youth advocate with the Network for Adolescent and Youth of Africa (NAYA), a youth-led regional advocacy network founded in 2001 by the African Regional Office of the Planned Parenthood Federation. NAYA aims to enhance the capacity of youth advocates, young people, and youth-led organizations to undertake SRHR advocacy at international, regional, national, and local level to improve the quality, affordability, and accessibility of health information and services.

Fahe Kerubo is a Kenyan youth advocate for SRHR, with a particular focus on lesbian, bisexual, and queer women living with HIV. She is a program coordinator at Positive Young Women Voices and a member of the She Decides national planning committee. She is also engaged in the Global Fund Africa Network.

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