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Daily Nation : February 23rd 2014
4 Lifestyle feature A gas cylinder explosion was all it took to change the boy’s life forever. What was an ordinary day for his family in Mlolongo ended in tragedy after a gas leak triggered a house fire, leaving him and his two brothers without parents and facing an uncertain future BY BOB ODALO @ODALOBOB firstname.lastname@example.org very lively discussion with my dad. It was about my education. The KCPE examination results had O I HAD READ OF SAD INCIDENTS IN STORY BOOKS AND WATCHED HORROR MOVIES, BUT THIS TIME, IT HAD HAPPENED TO ME,” Elvis Onchiri just been released and he was upbeat. As we sat watching KCPE results being announced on television with high performers being carried shoulder high, dad threw the challenge back to me. He told me, “Son, next year will be your turn. You are going to sit your KCPE and the best I can pray for you is a good result that will make us proud. I want the name Elvis Omambia Onchiri to appear among the champions.” At Mlolongo primary school where I have been pursuing my primary education, I knew I had what it takes to produce good results. I jokingly told dad to do me one favour: just ensure that the secondary school fees will be ready because I knew that I would pass my examinations. But that was not to be. When tragedy struck The dream of turning the month of December 2014 into a joyous moment for my family is now gone forever. My parents won’t be there to join in celebrating my anticipated KCPE success. February 2 was the day when it all changed. On that day, I watched helplessly as a fire consumed my mother, my father and my sister. My two young brothers were left fighting for their lives in hospital. I survived with injuries. A cooking gas explosion was all it took to change my life forever. Since then, my life has been like a bad dream, so I have had to be jolted back to reality by my relatives many times. When I was told that I was being discharged from hospital to join my ex- tended family in burying my family members, it seemed like they were playing a cruel joke on me. It all become too real when I saw the caskets bearing the remains of my father Davies Onchiri, my mother Ebishiba Kerubo and my only sister being carried out of the Kenyatta National Hospital mortuary for the long journey to our rural home in Bomeraga Rigoma, Nyamira County. We were all at home on the evening of February 2 when the misfortune struck. My sister and I were busy doing home- work. Dad was also helping my two younger brothers with their homework. We live on the third floor of a rental flat and mum was doing laundry downstairs as dinner cooked in a jiko outside. Mum used to wash clothes in the evening and then leave them to dry at night. She preferred it that way. Usually, gas was used sparingly because it was expensive to refill. We only used it to cook a quick meal or breakfast when preparing to go to school. Otherwise, mum preferred to light the charcoal burner or paraffin stove. On the fateful day, as usual, she was using the jiko placed in the verandah to cook. There was the distinct smell of gas from the kitchen. When I told dad of the strong smell, he chose to check it up himself. He examined the gas cylinder and found that the regulator was loose. He decided to tighten it and readjust the hose to stop any leakage. Suddenly Sunday February 23, 2014 SUNDAY NATION Class Eight pupil remembers gas Elvis Onchiri. n December 27 last year, I had a Ebishiba Onchiri with her four children in a previous family photo. Mrs Ebishiba, her husband Davies Onchiri and their daughter Serah died after a house fire. PHOTOS| BOB ODALO the gas gushed out in full force. I think the force threw my dad up before he landed with a thud. Soon the smell of gas engulfed the house. Within no time the fire from the charcoal jiko ignited a flame. Scene from hell It happened too first. The whole place was engulfed in fire and there was smoke all over. I heard dad calling out for help followed by more screams from my sister and brothers. The fire was fierce but I managed to crawl out. I believe our screams drew the attention of my mother. I think it was the agonising screams of my father and our other children that made her to do the unthinkable. She ran into the house and straight into the raging fire looking for us. But fire was too much for our brave mother. I must have passed out because I don’t know what happened next; I woke up in hospital. I suffered burns on my right hand and legs. My injuries were not very serious and I was discharged after a week. Neighbours took us to the Shalom Community Hospital in Athi River. My parents and sister suffered more than 80 per cent burns while my brothers had more than 50 per cent burns. They were all transferred to the Kenyatta National Hospital burns unit where three of them died in less than two weeks. The first to die was my little sister and our third-born Serah, nine. Mum succumbed three days later, then dad on February 15. The burial The sight of mourners shedding tears as we left Nairobi on Thursday was all too much for me. I was relieved, though, when one of my brothers, Owen Okiago, was allowed to join us for the burial. But since he was not fully recovered, he spent most of the time inside the house. Our last born, who is in Class Two, Obed Nyakundi, could not make it to the burial. As the coffins were lowered down one after the other, memories of our times together flashed through my mind. Going back to that fateful evening of GET HELP Children will need counselling: uncle ily,” he says. Obed Nyakundi, the fire accident survivor admitted to Kenyatta National Hospital, urgently needs blood Group ‘O’. His uncle Mr Justus Onsongo Nyangoka told Lifestyle on Friday, that the surviving children will also need a lot of assistance to get back on their feet. Feb 2 Date this year when a gas explosion set a house in Mlolongo trading centre on fire killing the father, mother and a girl aged nine. Mr Nyangoka, an engineer in Makueni County said the children will need counselling to overcome the trauma. “I am now Elvis’s guardian. The other two children will need specialised attention for them to understand what befell their fam- “Definitely life won’t be the same again for these children. They will need new schools and new homes for them to carry on with their lives,” he said. Mr Nyangoka thanked members of the Adventist church and the Catholic sisters in Makueni for their assistance. He also thanked the community in Mlolongo, especially former Kibwezi MP Kalembe Ndile, for leading the rescue mission that helped take the family members to hospital. Mr Nyangoka can be reached on 0715274060.
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