Many unsung heroes are making a difference in their community, particularly during the era of the COVID-19 pandemic. Twenty-six-year-old Jane Njeri Kagwiria Kubai is one such individual. She wears many hats; she is a security guard, a frontline health worker, a student and a mother based in Nyeri County.
She works hard as a security guard so at to fulfil her dreams of being a health worker. A single mother of a six-year-old boy (her greatest inspiration) Jane is an early bird, waking up at 3 AM every day to catch the worm.
Growing up in a humble family setting, Jane navigated life with various hurdles such as forced marriage; the lack of school fees, as well as struggling to make ends meets for herself and her siblings. Her parents could hardly afford to pay her school fees, and therefore, Jane lived on the fate of well-wishers and aid from her local church. With support from the church, she completed her secondary school education in 2013.
In the same year, her life changed when a security firm offered her a job. “I knew getting this job would be a stepping stone to realise my dreams,” she confirms.
Jane is a proud Security Guard at Consolata Hospital through which she finances her studies. Through her savings, she joined Mary Lonela Consolata Medical College to pursue a Certificate in Theatre Technology as a part-time student and hopes to graduate in 2021.
While on duty at the hospital, Jane takes a break in the middle of the day, and at this time, she switches hats and becomes a health worker. “During my short break in between work, I raise awareness and educate in and out patients on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. I encourage them to adhere to the guidelines provided by the doctors. I also address the fears and stigma associated with the disease,” she explains.
When Jane heard about the COVID-19 Response training by Amref Health Africa in Kenya supported by the European Union, she was without a doubt interested in joining other frontline health workers. The training has equipped her and her colleagues with concrete skills on COVID-19 prevention.
“I chose Jane to be among the team because of her dedication and passion in health education particularly for COVID-19,” says Dr John Miranda, Medical Officer In-charge at Consolata Hospital. He says that in March, the hospital had trained 30 staff using online information from the World Health Organisation (WHO), and Jane had expressed her interest in being part of the hospital’s COVID-19 response team.
After reporting its first case of Coronavirus in July, the hospital put in place strict measures to reduce the spread of the virus within and outside the hospital.
Jane is among those leading prevention measures at the health facility. At the gate, she checks the body temperature of patients and visitors entering the hospital premises. She ensures all of them have washed their hands with soap and water and have their masks on.
“I also help health workers dress in their PPEs,” She explains, emphasising that this role is the most rewarding part of the job, knowing that she is providing people with lifesaving information.
Jane has also adopted a cautious routine to prevent her from spreading the virus at home. “When I arrive home, I remove my clothes and soak them in water, then I take a shower before interacting with my child and house help,” she says.
She admits that her work puts her at a higher risk of contracting the virus. However, she still hopes that one day everyone will get the right information. Through the European Union (EU) funded COVID-19 Response Programme, Amref Health Africa is supporting nine-county governments to enhance human resource capacity to respond to the disease. Frontline health workers remain a lifeline in ensuring effective COVID-19 prevention, screening, diagnosis and management as well as the effective resolution of emerging issues.