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Daily Nation : February 19th 2014
r story ried this man DAILY NATION Wednesday February 19, 2014 Living 5 HOW CAN I LIVE WITHOUT THIS UNCONDITIONAL LOVE? No, baby Asunta must not lose her home DURING THE DECEMBER holidays, I visited KENWA children’s home. With dwindling resources to fund the home and “shy” donors, who are decreasing every year, I need to rethink how to run this home. I need to either phase it out, or join in the beggarly national chorus, “Naomba serikali inisaidie”, otherwise the fate of these 50 children living with HIV is doomed. As I drive towards the home on the dusty road, I’m rehearsing how I will handle the landlady. She has “forgiven” our several months’ rent arrears, and asked us to move out because, as she puts it, she doesn’t want my money. Big Mama’s dilemma On reaching the home, I’m wel- comed by innocent smiles, hugs and kisses. Some kids have running noses, all competing to reach Mama Mkubwa. That’s Kiswahili for Big Mama. This gets me thinking. “If I phase out this home, how will I make it without this unconditional love? I’m helpless. Please Lord; allow me to keep these children a little longer. Allow these hugs and kisses to continue being mine and I will work day and night to ensure they are fed.” I give out the goodies, which include d to ask my father to gs got bad, and each hat he would change, would go back to his oni explains. fact that Kanyi in- ress him as teacher, me, and would slap she disobeyed this st time Muthoni has and to the authoriher. The Nyandarua probation, Jackson at some time ago, a case against her hururu law court, but ter Kanyi convinced ut of court solution. violent incident that tuation, the two had o the chief’s office, where they were urged to live in peace and harmony. But that evening, Kanyi, incensed that Muthoni had dared report him to the authorities, tried to strangle his wife. She was saved by their youngest child, a 13 year-old, who screamed, attracting neighbours. When the neighbours arrived at the home, Kanyi slipped away, leaving an unconscious Muthoni on the ground, outside their house. The neighbours took her to the Mairo Inya police post, where the matter was recorded as assault, and a P3 form issued. That is how the matter found its way to court. Muthoni was admitted at the Nyahururu district hospital, where she treated and then released after a couple of hours. Kanyi appeared in court on January 17th and admitted to the assault charge, but told the magistrate that he was ready to reconcile with his wife. But Muthoni, who was in court, quickly turned down the reconciliation offer and revealed to the court the extent of violence she has endured over the years. She said that apart from the beatings, she had endured marital rape, and that throughout her marriage, her husband had treated like the clueless pupil she had been before they got married. For this reasons, she explained, she wanted her husband to be punished. Speaking to us a day after he was sen- tenced, Kanyi defended himself, saying that he married when he was not ready for it. He confessed that theirs was a stressful marriage, which moved from bad to worse after he retired from teaching. He says that he felt stressed by his family’s expectation that he had saved a lot of money to continue catering for all their needs. He feels that he has been unfairly treated, arguing that he offered his family his best. “I believe they can attest to that,” he says. But Muthoni has an entirely different opinion, insisting that her husband has 1971 sweets, crisps, juices and French fries. We all catch up, and I feel like I have neglected them. The kids look hopeful and full of life, and this makes my eyes tear. I love these kids to bits. However, Year Muthoni and Kanyi got married. always been a “don’t-care” father and husband who has never been keen on providing for the family or even educating his children. She says that only two out of their nine children completed secondary school. But Kanyi does not think a crime has been committed just because his children are not educated. Irresponsible father? “It is not a must that a teacher’s chil- dren be educated. You educate those who are ready to pursue education,” he said adding that he has always ensured that his family never goes hungry. The retired teacher is now a subsistence farmer. But Muthoni feels that he could have done more for his family. Kanyi, she charges, has always been stingy with his money, yet, she alleges, he owns several pieces of land, which he has gone into great pains to hide from her. While Kanyi does not deny that he has been physically abusive towards his wife over the years, he says that some of the accusations against him are exaggerated. “I was accused of biting my wife, can this gum bite and injure somebody?” he comments, exposing his toothless month. He, however, says that he is ready to do anything to save his marriage to Muthoni. how can I tell them that Mama Mkubwa is finding it difficult to keep the home running? Two little girls and three boys scramble to sit on my lap. They all report to me the sins and offences, omissions and commissions that have been going on since my last visit. It tells me that they miss me. I need to make my visits more frequent. At times I feel like taking them all to my house. But one Mama Mkubwa can only do so much. Refusing to die Asunta - one of the bigger girls - is looking at me with eyes declaring: “I’m the one who’s supposed to be on your lap”. Asunta is a miracle baby. She’s beautiful. The apple of the home. I remember how God brought her to me. She was born about two months before her due date. Her HIV-infected mother could neither remember when she got pregnant nor the man responsible. At birth, Asunta tipped the scales at 450 grams. Yes, you read right. Less than half a kilo. After three hospitals declined to take her, her mother and Good Samaritans who had taken her to hospital thought she would not make it. Someone in the last hospital suggested that they should try us, intimating that KENWA takes even those who This is the diary of Asunta Wagura, a mother-of-five who tested HIV-positive 25 years ago. She is the executive director of the Kenya Network of Women with Aids (KENWA). Email: email@example.com KENWA Children’s Home are dying. That’s how Asunta was brought to the attention of our programs manager. Our officer - without informing anyone else - sent them home, telling her mother to return the following day. She later confessed to me that she believed the baby would not make it through the night. Surprise, surprise. Mother and baby showed up. At this point, our officer came to my office to ask what we should do. She said, “I’ve never seen such a tiny baby. I can’t tell if it’s a human being or not … but she has refused to die.” We walked to her office to see ex- actly what she was talking about. It was worse than she was describing. “What’s your baby’s name?” I asked the mother. For seven days, due to confusion and not knowing if her baby would survive, the mother hadn’t given her baby a name yet. Reality teacher I named the baby Asunta. Then I bought handkerchiefs to use as diapers. No normal size diaper could fit her. I also bought one tin of formula milk and a small syringe. The latter was to feed her because her mouth was too tiny to feed using anything else. I was doing my best. Still, I was convinced she would die before that one tin was over. To my amazement, she downed that tin. Soon, I was buying milk in dozens. Within a few months, she put on weight. Her physical features also took form. Looking at Asunta today, who is in class three, it amazes me how people – (and I am one of them) – are quick to pass death sentences on others. If God has predestined you to live and achieve, nothing can kill you or your dreams. Even if you are born premature. Asunta wants to be a teacher. What she doesn’t know is that she’s already teaching us loads of real life lessons.
February 18th 2014
February 20th 2014