- Before the crisis struck, Tina could visit different morgues within Mombasa to beautify dead bodies before their burial
- This is a job she has come to love and appreciate ever since she started it, following the death of her friend
- However, at the moment, the single mother is struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table due to coronavirus which has seen business diminish
Growing up in Budalangi, 33-year-old Tina Akello wanted to become a soldier. She did not envision working in a morgue but life took a twist when her best friend died in 2016.
Tina, who relocated to Mombasa in 1999, is among thousands of Kenyans whose businesses collapsed due to the COVID-19 crisis that affected the entire globe.
With the pandemic, only health workers are tasked with preserving dead bodies which are hurriedly buried within 48 hours according to the ministry of health's guidelines.
Before the crisis struck, Tina told TUKO.co.ke that she would visit different morgues within the region to beautify dead bodies before their burial.
“She was my only best friend whom I adored dearly. I was her make-up artist during her wedding.
"When she died, I was tasked with the responsibility of beautifying her body before her burial. That is how I started the business of beautifying corpses before their send-offs,” she added.
This is a job she has come to love and appreciate.
However, at the moment, the single mother is struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table for her two children.
The make-up artist and hairstylist said since the virus hit the country she has not been able to get a single client from her job that is perceived to be unusual by many Kenyans.
“I am proud of my work...I began this job in 2016. Just recently, I did not make it to Nairobi to groom two dead bodies since I could not get a means of transport to Nairobi.
"This was due to the cessation of movement imposed by the government. I lost over KSh 50,000 in that particular assignment. That’s how business slipped off my hands,” she added.
According to her, she had been approached by a Nairobi family who lost two people in an accident. The families wanted her to make the corpses beautiful on their last journey.
According to her, many people had known about her services and she would get many referrals from all across the country.
But business has been down since people are no longer allowed to visit morgues and she was forced to close down her salon since she was no longer able to pay rent.
Tina further noted that before the world was hit by the pandemic, she used to make between KSh 20,000 (N72,788.80) to KSh 30,000 (109,183.21) per body but for five months now, she has not got any requests.
She added that her family has no problem with the kind of work she is involved in, adding that they always support her.
“They hope that things will change for the better. I do make up mostly for women and when it comes to male bodies, I only do after the corpse has been dressed up,” she said.
The mother of two dismissed the myth that anyone working in the morgues or anything to do with corpses must be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
“I have never used alcohol, I am always sober. I always have courage every time I get into a morgue to attend to my clients,” she said.
Tina further said that she not only does make up for the dead but also cleans and dresses them.
In most cases, she receives makeup products to be used on her clients from the family members.
However, at times, she has to visit the morgue and get the right complexion of the corpse before getting the right products that will match their skin colour.
“When I am not at the morgue attending to the dead, I am sometimes in my salon glamming other clients,” she said.
In other news, a young woman has inspired social media users with her success story.
Twitter user Tumelo Warona shared the story of Welile Gumede on the social media platform on Monday, June 22.
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