Douglas Nyankira is Kenya’s PRECISE star this month. Douglas is a laboratory technologist working at the Mariakani site in Kilifi.

Douglas, usually quietly performs his work at the PRECISE lab, but since the pandemic, a lot has changed. In March 2020, the study had to temporarily stop enrolment of participants due to the COVID pandemic. Most of the team had to stay at home and many travelled away from the study sites to be with their families. Douglas and a few others from the laboratory team opted to stay in Kilifi and contribute to data entry into the lab database. The team distributed laptops and desktops and set to work from home for several hours a day keying in data.

“I could have travelled up country to my home and worked on a few personal projects. It was a bit lonely staying here, working from home wasn’t easy, there were many distractions but eventually I got the hang of it. The team met regularly online and it was encouraging seeing how much progress we were making.”

Later, Douglas was asked to cover responsibilities on behalf of the lab site lead who was going on leave.

“This came by surprise. It wasn’t easy – we were preparing for the study to restart but it was not clear when this would be possible. Working with a large team – all lab technologists, nurses and enumerators at the site – was complicated. I had to prepare schedules and plans and it wasn’t easy accommodating everyone’s wishes and factoring in social distance guidelines. I also helped with training. As I look back, I am grateful for the opportunity PRECISE gave me. I have definitely gained some leadership and people skills. “