Kenya now has 28 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 virus. Globally it is spreading and governments all over are shutting down borders and implementing a raft of measures aimed at containing it.
Here in Kenya one man, David Ochieng is going out of his way in ensuring those in vulnerable communities also have a fighting chance.
Kibera, the largest slum in Africa, is often associated with despair and struggle, but for Avido these very roots are what inspires him.
Now a celebrated fashion designer whose street-inspired Ankara themed works have transversed continents, he is taking his time to make and personally donate face masks to people living in Kibera slums.Mama Mboga in Kibera settlement wearing a face mask given by Avido on 18 March 2020.
“I know what is motivating me to do this. Giving out the masks and letting people know how to help themselves when the virus tries reaching us gives me joy because at least I can help them understand the situation”, he said.
Residing in informal settlements brings with it a scarcity of resources, from clean running water to soap, some of the very things necessary to maintain hygiene and keep the Covid-19 virus at bay. Social distancing here is a challenge given the crowded nature of informal communities and staying at home is a dream as most people live hand to mouth thus have to go out each day in search of an income which is not guaranteed.
Having been born in Kibera, Davido acknowledges the risk faced by Kibera residents in the fight against Covid-19. This is what made him start making face masks and distributing them for free amongst his local community. He also educates them about the virus, how to use the mask and how washing hands often, is crucial in avoiding contracting the virus.
“Some people don’t really know what is happening, so I have to educate them. Once you do that, they are able to understand. It takes time for them to understand what is happening and to teach them the preventative measures. People are really happy to receive the masks, some are even bursting into tears,” he said.A boda boda rider in Kibera settlement wearing a face mask handed out by Avido on, March 22, 2020.
He has distributed about 2000 masks so far in Kibera for free. Word has spread about his noble cause and plenty of inquiries have been streaming in regarding how one can make a purchase. He refuses to accept money as payment for a mask and instead opts for sanitizer instead. Sanitizer which he then goes back to Kibera to distribute since it is a commodity not many can afford.
When growing up life wasn’t rosy for Avido. He grew up in a family that at times could not afford a meal a day. Having started his education journey at Mbagathi Primary, he was fortunate to receive a soccer scholarship that saw him through primary school. He later joined Raila Education Centre for his high school education but dropped out due to lack of school fees. He later ended up as a construction worker in Langata as his mum, then as a house help, needed help in providing for the family.Jamaican reggae hall star Buju Banton rocks an Avido outfit when he in Kenya on February 16,2020 for a concert.
Avidos' fashion is inspired by his grandmother. For him, fashion is an art which he uses to speak about the myriad of problems faced by people in Kibera. From his humble beginnings, this art has seen him showcase his craft on global platforms such as the Berlin Fashion Week. This exposure has brought his fashion line Avido which he started in 2015 good tidings as he has dressed both local and international stars such as Tracy Wanjiru, Octoppizo, Ty Dolla Sign, and Buju Banton to name a few.
Avido has come a long way from his days as a construction worker, eking out a hard living. He is now a leader in his community as well as a rising star in the fashion world, inspiring many by his captivating designs. Showing them your beginnings don’t matter, with a plan and determination the world is your oyster.
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