This story has been published to mark World TB Day 2016.
“I long for the day my country will be stable, I wish for peace, stability, I wish for the day children and their parents and grandparents can come out to the streets and sing and dance without fear of the militia or army beating and killing us.”
I am extremely happy to be getting this opportunity to start afresh in the United States of America. After all that I have gone through I never thought I would see this day. I will maximize on the opportunity to one day bring peace back in my country.”
John arrived in Kenya in August of 2010 by road through the Malaba, the Kenya -Uganda border, prior to this he lived in Mbarara located in the Western Region of Uganda. When he arrived in Nairobi, he was received by a Kenyan man who was aware of his arrival and immediately took him to the suburb of Kasarani.
“Here I met many of my countrymen who had lived here as refugees and I was happy, although I did not speak or understand Kiswahili, most of the people there understood English. I felt at home and I felt safe.”
In 2012, John received a call from IOM requesting him to come for medical examinations as is standard procedure during the resettlement process. He took this as a sign that he was about to start a new journey, a new chapter in his life. Filled with confidence he made his way to the Migration Health Assessment Center in Nairobi. He was strong and healthy and nothing was going to deter him in achieving his goals.
When his x-ray results came back they revealed scars on his lungs and the sputum tested positive for Multi Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB). “I saw death staring at me in the eye, I thought to myself, this is it, finally the devil has caught up with me,” he says lowering his voice.
In North Kivu, where John comes from, they have an expression ‘igituntu cy’omumaraso’ which means TB is in the blood and cannot be cured, one’s only fate is death.
“I thought of all I was hoping to achieve and now this, I honestly regretted wanting to go abroad, had I not been to IOM I would not have known about all this.” John did not show signs of suffering from TB, he was not coughing and had no fever, he however had lost his appetite and consequently lost a lot of weight something he associated with stress, especially his lack of income.
This marked the beginning of a 2 year stint in IOM’s MDR-TB clinic in Dadaab. Through the support of the team at the clinic, John was able to finish his treatment and proceed with the resettlement process.
He is now fully healed, has remained in excellent health and in July 2015, he departed for the United States.
Migrants face higher exposure to TB infection due to overcrowded living conditions. They often do not have access to correct TB related information on prevention, transmission and latent infections due to language barriers as well as cultural beliefs.