01 02 03 Africa Expat Wives Club: Our ex askari 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Our ex askari

My computer inexplicably crashed this week, possibly due to a power surge and the intruder alarm is still playing up. My parents in law have arrived and the weather has suddenly got cooler, so we’ve got the; ‘it’s better weather in England’ debate raging each drizzly morning over breakfast. My brother in law came over for three weeks in July, to a wintery Nairobi, while England was melting in a heat wave. ‘When is the best time of year to visit?’ Is such a difficult question to answer as at an altitude of 5,500 feet the weather is unpredictable here.

Our ex night watchman came over to the house collect his money for anti retroviral treatment last week. This cost seems to come up once a year in October, when AMREF have a month’s break from handing out the drugs free of charge. He says that he has to keep his HIV status a secret as he will be rejected by the community completely if anyone was to find out. He would be likely to be thrown out of his rented accommodation in Kibera slums (even this slum housing is rented out) and he would not be able to use the communal tap, go to church or buy food from the local traders. His co workers would stop interacting with him and they would not let him share cups or plates because they don’t understand the disease. However, he’s been trained as a counsellor over the past years and has attended many workshops and conferences about living with the disease. He’s proud of his certificates from NGOs who have trained him as an advisor on living with HIV. He is, in fact, a sort of underground guru whose secret mission is to educate those Kenyans who are ready to face up to their HIV status. He’s forced to lead a double life and believes that we were sent by God to help him and his wife when necessary. His wife suffers from ill health regularly. She was previously a nurse and possibly got infected by a needle stick injury. You can’t help but to admire his faith and conviction. He has invited us to him home one Sunday, to see how he and his wife are ‘going on’ and be their guests.

He said that he would like me to tell the staff here that he was looking for work, as he didn’t want to arouse their suspicion or jealousy if they were to find out he was receiving handouts from us. The new night watch man (askari) position that his company has given him is in fact working out well. Next time we will arrange a rendez-vous elsewhere, whenever the next time will be….

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