Science’s COVID-19 reporting is supported by the Pulitzer Center and the Heising-Simons Foundation.
In 2007, Kenyan health economist Edwine Barasa had a long layover at Heathrow Airport. A fervent supporter of the London-based soccer club Arsenal, he saw a chance to fulfill a lifelong dream: visiting the club’s ancestral stadium in Highbury. Even though he didn’t have the right paperwork, he managed to convince an immigration officer to stamp his passport—with a warning that he absolutely had to be back in 12 hours or they would both be in trouble.
The incident speaks to Barasa’s tenacity and powers of persuasion, says his boss, Philip Bejon, who directs the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)–Wellcome Trust Research Programme. These traits, Bejon says, have served Barasa well in his role as director of the program’s office in Nairobi, where he’s been a key player in Kenya’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Edwine always shows up as an authentic and sincere scientist who convinces his colleagues.”