You should be reading the newspaper everyday but on April Fools’ Day you should particularly not miss a copy just so you can test your brain and see if you can tell which stories make for great pranks! I get the kicks from that. However, In a twist of events Pg. 8 of The Daily Nation briefs had a headline that caught my eye. “Boy held in hospital due to 10,820 bill.” The story went on that the boy had missed his terminal exams because of the detention at the Kerugoya district hospital and in addition, the hospital superintendent could not be reached for a comment. This broke my heart, I even shed a tear. This wasn’t a joke. Can you understand this situation? I still can’t understand how a little boy can be detained in hospital over a 10 K bill and thus miss going to school. I mean, a 12-year boy should be busy watching WWF, adoring Ben10, playing football and mchongwanos if not at school kicking ass at solving math problems!
I quickly came up with a brilliant idea to raise 5 k and the rest from four of my best friends so we could bail that kid out of his misery by the next day, that would be a Saturday. [I love my ambition]. First things first, I called the Nation hotline hoping to get any contacts that would help me get to the kid. Kudos to the quick response, within a minute the gentleman behind the phone had already given me the contacts of one George Munene John, the Kerugoya Nation correspondent who had done the story. The hookup was effortless! Chap chap! I called Munene who was very receptive as I explained how I ran into his story in the newspaper and felt that my friends and I could assist the kido. I also found out from him that both the boy’s parents had ran off forcing him to live with his grand mother who had no cell phone, thus no way to reach them. We both agreed that Munene would go to the hospital over lunch time and check if the boy was still there and just confirm that the bill is still at 10,820. I mean, you don’t want to be raising money for an already released person. Turned out the kid was still there.
I quickly called a few friends, let’s just say April Fool’s is the last day you want to be asking anyone to send you money for a 12-year-old boy who has been detained in Kerugoya hospital- wonderful prank! Their responses made for a good ice breaker, they hardly believed me! I think only Anto did at first! I think I would have the worst sense of humour if I was joking about such a thing, or the best (depending on how you look at it). By 3 pm on Friday I had almost all the cash I needed, thanks to the quick response from my friends and decided that if I didn’t get the rest of the top up by Saturday morning, I would just top up the amount myself.
On Friday evening, I got a call from Munene saying, “The hospital panicked and released the boy just a few minutes ago.” At that moment I really felt a whole load of burden off my heart and shoulder. Before that I wasn’t going to sleep in peace until I knew that the boy was released from hospital. I had prior arranged to get an off from work on Saturday to go see the kid but most of ,my friends still urged me to still go see him even after news of his release.
That Friday night, I thought a lot of whether I should still go see the boy or not so I talked to my friend Chimano and sister Jackie and they both urged me to follow my heart. My best friend Bunny called on Saturday morning saying the same so I thought to myself how sometimes in life we are just afraid to take a leap. We always wait for that little glimpse of hope just to do something. Sometimes we need more than just one sign and I had had too many so I hopped out of bed and into the shower and off to Kerugoya, javing-alone! I was really excited!
However, it didn’t feel like I was alone as my friends kept tweeting/texting and calling me all the way. I ideally went because of the power they bestowed upon me! [Singing: Solidaaaaarity forrrrrever LOL] I got a matatu at Tea Room terminus near Commercial in town. And is it only me who suffocates in mats going to shags? Wah! That was the longest 2-hour-drive I have had in a long time.
Munene was out on an assignment so he gave my number to a man called Kennedy who asked me to alight at Kutus. He was so kind to come get me too. That’s When Ken arrived, I established that he was the boy’s neighbor. He was also the one who got the journalist to write the story. He said that he had tried to do everything possible, he even got the chief to write a letter to the hospital and the doctors still refused to release the boy. It was until the newspaper article that made the uproar public that the Ministry of Health called the hospital and demanded for the kid to be released. Within no time, we were both on a motorbike heading to the village to see the boy and granny. Excuse me, I was not about to start walking on the dusty village roads :-) I have to say, my motorbike was pimped- we were on another level! Check that bigass radio! And it was playing 2Pac, Dear Mama :-)
When I finally got to the village, I saw the granny and the boy (who was in crutches) sitting outside the thatched house, sort of like waiting for someone. They just had that look like they were waiting for anyone to come fix them. Sad. Granny couldn’t speak either English or Swahili so Ken played a very good interpreter. He explained to her that I was the girl who was going to bail the grandson from hospital but that I decided to come see him after all even though he had been released. That’s Ken in the picture.
I took some time to talk to the boy—Martin Munene. I was sad that he couldn’t speak English yet he’s in class 6. Nevertheless, I was very happy that he was healthy and that strange enough he didn’t seem as troubled as I thought he would be. I was shocked that the hospital had detained him from as far ago as January making him miss a whole term from school yet he had emerged second out of 46 in his class the previous term. It was clear that he’s a sharp boy who just needs to keep with the schooling, and a very bright future awaits him.
Martin had fallen from a mango tree right behind the granny’s house while trying to get something to eat. Sometimes that’s all they have to eat. The wound was severe as the doctors had even put a piece of metal inside his leg. It was around 2 p.m God knows I was hungry for any edible thing and thirsty as hell for a coke but these people hadn’t had anything since tea in the morning. The granny also takes care of her other 4-year-old, grandson who is either disabled or had autism. I couldn’t really tell but I could see that he also needed help.
Granny told me that Martin had only one pair of school shorts and a shirt. He has never had a school sweater or shoes (he had on some slippers). So sad. When he went to the hospital after the accident, the doctor tore through his school shorts, so now that he was out he still couldn’t go to school with no uniform. Granny said that she would need about 2,00o bob to purchase a new pair of school uniform for Martin, complete with shoes. Thank God I didn’t shop for her like I had contemplated earlier. I would have bought them blue band, peanut butter and wet wipes—things that are completely non existent in their world.
I had returned some of the money I got from my friends because I hadn’t known that I would still visit Kerugoya. Nway I gave granny all the money I had to buy uniform and food to last them at least a month or so. She has a farm right behind the house but she hasn’t been cultivating because of the drought plus there’s no water in the village. They only have a meal when she goes out to do odd jobs to get money for food.
If I can buy a necklace or spend dinner worth 2,000 bob or above, I felt like it wouldn’t be going out of my way to help the kido and the granny with the little I had. This was a joint effort between me, my friends and Munene’s story. No one would have known about Martin, the 12-year-old boy. I thank God I bumped into little Martin and thought I could help.
On Saturday night at around 8 p.m while preparing myself to go out right after the journey back from Kerugoya, I saw Ken from Keruguya calling me. He was saying thank you and wishing me a goodnight. That was soooooo cute—that in Kerugoya they wish each other goodnight at 8 p.m. I mean, that’s when Nairobi night awakens :-) Just yesterday, I called Ken to ask if they had bought Martin the uniform and am so happy to report that they had, he said that they even bought him socks :-) Yaaay!
I think it’s great that Martin is now going to school. We could give granny a couple of loose thousands every month but it will just last her so long. I am looking into a long-term solution. Granny needs a water pump so she can sustain her agriculture. In addition she can sell water to the community members and at least make some cash for food and stuff. She also needs an autism organization or something of the sort to help with the other kid. I am now calling out to all my friends or any well-wisher, how do we go about this? It’s a good thing that I am now very good friends with Munene and whatever we decide on he will publish it in the newspaper. Currently searching for organizations that empower communities through projects and of course that would help with the special kid. Any tips are welcomed. I will be setting a date for a brainstorming session so y’all better have your phones on!
Special shout out to: The Daily Nation, Munene, Anto, Bunny, Chim, Wanjeri, Marcus, Robert Alai, JB, Wamathai, Bruna and Nick Ndeda! We did it, Part 1 :-)
BONUS! I had quite an adventure and all but in summary, nothing beats the feeling in my heart when I left cucu and Martin smiling. It kinda felt like I made people who would otherwise not be smiling, smile :-) [I am now Munene’s un-official god-mother]