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‘We sold our land to buy oxygen for sick mother’

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She coughs uncontrollably in her mud-walled house in Uasin Gishu as she positions a nasal cannula. Beside her, are three oxygen cylinders – one is a 75-kilogramme cylinder and the two smaller ones.

Meet Rose Chemwetich, 55, who has been dependent on oxygen cylinders since 2017, after she developed an agonising disease that made it difficult for her to breathe. Her lungs had failed.

It all started with a simple cough in 2016. What Rose thought was a common cold turned out to be something bigger.The widow says she visited a local dispensary and was treated for the ‘minor’ ailment but the coughing persisted.

Four years later, she cannot survive without the oxygen cylinder even for two minutes, her failing lungs cannot sustain regular breathing.But the biggest worry for the mother of four is that her family is now unable to refill the oxygen cylinder.

Every week, the woman from Moiben Constituency refills the apparatus at Sh4,500.“When health workers at the dispensary discovered the coughing was not ceasing, they referred me to Uasin Gishu District Hospital for further tests. Doctors there suspected tuberculosis, but tests turned out negative,” Rose says.

Condition worsened

When the urge to visit the toilet comes, she wobbly walks to the little room but has to be as quick as possible because she has to return to her oxygen cylinders, which are carefully positioned.

Rose says her condition worsened in 2017 and was admitted to the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH), where medics recommended oxygen cylinders at home after her lungs failed to support breathing.A short while later, she was also diagnosed with diabetes. This made the situation worse.

“Neighbours have been generously contributing towards my oxygen, but they are now tired. I have sold more than half of the land I am currently residing in to remain alive,” she says.

Unable to live an ordinary life, Rose only gets out every two weeks, when she has to visit the MTRH for treatment and assessment, or when she runs out of oxygen.

“Relatives rush me to hospital whenever the oxygen runs out. At the hospital, I am put under oxygen as I refill the cylinders. One of my relatives has turned into a nurse, and sits next to me all the time,” she says

.She adds: “I feel a lot of pain in the chest when I cough. My breasts are also swollen. Doctors say there is poor flow of blood between my heart and lungs.” A report by a doctor Owino at MTRH indicates that Rose suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

Experts describe COPD as an obstructive lung disease characterised by long-term breathing problems and poor airflow. According to the report, the condition can only be cured through a lung transplant, a procedure that is unavailable in Kenya.

Devastated family

“She was stabilised on oxygen. She responded well and was discharged to continue with the usual oxygen and insulin,” her discharge sheet dated February 17, 2020 reads in part. Rose’s daughter, Joan Chepchirchir says her mother’s condition has devastated the family. “We have been forced to sell our only farm to buy oxygen for our mother and have to depend on our uncles,” she says.

Joan says she secured a job at a hotel in Eldoret in 2017 but turned it down because she had to take care of her ailing mother.She says her family has been organising fundraising events to get get funds to purchase oxygen, but they have stopped asking for help.Rose’s nephew, Ishmael Kipsang says the family has used more than Sh4 million on oxygen alone.

Ishmael says that in recent months, the family has been struggling to pay for the gas.

“We owe the oxygen provider more than Sh100,000 in unpaid refills and they are threatening to deny us the gas,” says Ishmael as he calls on the State to help them in getting better treatment for his aunt.Jane Naliaka, a neighbour says Rose’s family is subdued by the draining health condition, and now feels helpless.

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PHOTOS: Have a look at Pastor Kanyari’s new fashion sense

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Controversial man of God pastor Victor Kanyari has been going on with business as usual.

The self-proclaimed prophet, who now goes by the name Bishop Mwangi of Salvation Healing Ministry, has changed his wardrobe.

The father of two has ditched his oversized, shinny red suits (prophet’s uniform) for a more sophisticated look.

Kanyari has now switched to Nigerian attires and has been sharing photos just to let those who don’t attend his church know that he has upgraded.

Check out his latest photos

Pastor KanyariPastor Kanyari

Pastor Kanyari

 

Pastor Kanyari

 

Pastor Kanyari

 

 

 

Pastor Kanyari

 

Pastor Kanyari

 

 

Pastor Kanyari

 

Pastor Kanyari

By Mpasho

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BREAKING: Four Kenyan Counties put under lockdown[VIDEO]

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President Uhuru Kenyatta has declared Nairobi, Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi counties Covid-19 hotspots and has subsequently announced travelling restrictions for the next 21 days.

In his address to the nation on Monday evening, the President said that Nairobi accounts for 82 per cent of the total infections while the other Coastal counties account for 14 per cent hence the new directive.

He said that travel restrictions in and out of the Nairobi Metropolitan area will begin today (Monday) at 7pm while in Mombasa, Kilifi, and Kwale counties the directive will take effect on Wednesday evening.

The Head of State said that the movement along the coastal strip, in affected counties should be limited for now before the directive takes effect on April 8.

The President was categorical that motor vehicles, scooters, bicycles, and motorbikes are not allowed to move in and out of the four counties. He, however, said that vehicles ferrying food materials or other essential products like medical equipment and drugs would be exempted from the restrictions. THE FULL SPEECH:

He said that vehicles ferrying food products are only allowed to have one driver and ‘such designated persons must be notified by writing.’While defining the boundaries of the Nairobi Metropolitan area, he said that the ban affects Nairobi Couty, part of Kiambu County stretching over to Chania River, part of Machakos County, and part of Kajiado County including Kitengela.

While referring to the new raft of measures to curb the spread of the bug, Uhuru said that most countries have reacted based on their own circumstances.”Governments all over the worldincluding our own, are taking unprecedented steps to arrest the spread of this pandemic and to flatten the curve

Different measures are being taken across the globe depending on every country’s unique circumstances,” he stated.And added: “But what is clear from their experience is that the pandemic is likely to continue spreading with lethal effect without drastic action.”

He termed the new measures hard but necessary choices that if not taken, the country could pay the most painful price through loss of lives and economic devastation. “It can lead to unprecedented pressure on our medical facilities which may lead to unprecedented loss of lives,” he stated.

 

“There is a choice that we are asked to make as a government or as a people.”As a way of ensuring that the social distancing rule and other personal preventions are undertaken, he urged people to wear face masks any time when in public.“We must endeavor to wear masks when we are amongst our people…wash hands for atleast 20 seconds,” he said.

Uhuru urged the Nairobi Metropolitan Services to ensure the availability of water, especially in slum areas to boost hygiene.  He also encouraged farmers working on food production to continue with their work to ensure that there is enough food in the country.

He said “I encourage our traders and farmers in fresh produce to continue with their agricultural activities, so as to ensure the continued supply of the farm produce to our markets.  Such farm produce embody the diversity of Kenya includes; Rice, Beans, Maize, Potatoes, Cabbages, Miraa, Tomatoes, bananas, and other food items.”

“No one should be denied the ability to carry on with their legal trade within the boundaries of the protocols set out by the Ministry of Health.”

Kenya’s Covid-19 pandemic cases shot to 158 on Monday after 16 more people tested positive for the virus. Four more people recovered and two more died. This means that the number of people who have died of Covid-19 is six. The President said that the Ministry of Health tested 4,277 people on Monday.

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I miss my mother’s laughter- Wangari Maathai’s daughter Wanjira

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An apple, they say, never falls far away from the tree and for Wanjira Mathai, that metaphor has been true in a literal sense. The daughter of renowned environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner the late Wangari Maathai finds solace in the tranquillity of Karura, a forest that saw her mother’s blood spilt by overzealous security agents in a bid to force her to abandon her crusade to save it from grabbers.

On April 1, Wangari Maathai would have turned 80. Wanjira thinks her mother would have been overjoyed to learn that the forest has quickly become a focal point for Nairobi residents.

“I always think about Karura as one of those places where you pinch yourself and think ‘it’s here.’ This is where, walk, relax and reflect,” Wanjira says. “My mother always hoped that her grandchildren would enjoy Karura Forest.” They do.

As a resident of the world, Wangari Maathai was feted for highlighting environmental issues that pricked the conscience of her global audience.

Kings, queens and presidents wanted to pose for photos with her. Parks and gardens in the developed world were named after her. But to Wanjira and her siblings, Wangari was simply their mother.

Wangari died in 2011 and the world mourned a woman who was willing to shed blood to save the environment. Catchy labels were pinned on her and for good reasons. Yet, her death was a personal loss to her family. Each one had to retreat to some private space and relive the cherished moments they shared.

I miss her laugh

“There is so much I miss about my mother,” says Wanjira. “So to pick one thing right now, I would say her laugh. I miss the times we would laugh out loud until tears streamed down our faces.”

To the world, Wangari seemed superhuman and the question of what it was like living with such an icon intrigues Wanjira every so often.

“Living with my mother just seemed normal. Growing up, I always thought everyone’s mum must be as hard-working and committed as mine. She cared for us, ensured we had a happy childhood, and corrected us when necessary. I see life through her lens as my mother,” she says.

As expected, that strict upbringing and the constant shadowing of her mother rubbed off on Wanjira. She was just a small girl when her mother brought together some women into planting trees, the baby steps that gave birth to the Green Belt Movement in 1977.

The work gained global traction leading to Wangari Maathai being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. But unlike many organisations that slow down after the death of their founders, the Green Belt Movement is still on the fast lane, thanks to the efforts of people like Wanjira.

The Wangari Maathai Foundation seeks to push the envelope by inspiring courageous and responsible leadership in Kenya. Inspired by the rich legacy of Wangari Maathai, the foundation’s work is driven by what is termed as the “Power of One” – a transformative agenda that aims to nurture a culture of integrity, purpose, and personal leadership among children and youth.

The movement partners with schools across Kenya to incorporate experiential youth programmes that build character and integrate social-emotional learning in the country. Wanjira cannot afford to drop the ball. With all eyes on her, this may seem like a Herculean task, especially when people compare her accomplishments with those of her mother. But Wanjira has never tried to fill her mother’s shoes.

Wanjira Maathai. Photo: Courtesy.

“I do not feel like I am filling my mother’s shoes.  A lot of the work that I have done in support of my mother’s legacy is out of a deep love and gratitude for what she meant to me,” she says. That love and gratitude was borne out of working closely with her mother for almost 12 years.

“Many people don’t have a chance to have that kind of precious time with their parents. I consider it a gift that I was able to enjoy her company. I never compare myself to her. I am not living in her shadow but basking in her light,” she says.

Herculean task or not, Wanjira, who also wears the hat of the vice president and regional director for Africa at the World Resource Institute is prepared to walk the talk, taking stock of what has worked and what has not in matters environment since her mother passed away.

The environment, she says, has in some ways improved, and in others deteriorated. Improved because protections for the environment that Kenyans could only have dreamed of are now enshrined in our constitution, including a right to a clean and green environment.

“My mother was very proud of that achievement. In the height of her struggle to save Uhuru Park and Karura Forest, their court case was struck out for lack of a locus standi (they did not have the right to speak for the park and the forest).  Today we do,” she says.

The country may have more forest cover than when her mother was assistant Minister for Environment, but Kenya needs a minimum forest cover of 10 per cent, in addition to a commitment made to the Africa Restoration initiative to restore 5.1 million hectares of land by 2030. Wangari’s work was not done.

Were her mother to be alive, Wanjira has no doubts she would have continued to champion environmental causes, issues that have become more central today than they were in her mother’s time.

When her mother won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize, Wanjira says, people asked what the environment had to do with peace. “Nobody is asking that question today. We are talking about how important it is to have a healthy environment and protect the integrity of the natural world.”

What would she fight for today?

Among the issues that Wanjira feels would have occupied her mother today is the never-ending feud over the Mau. Wanjira says her mother was always very clear on the Mau and saw it from a different perspective.

She knew that the Mau supports so much life and biodiversity. “If the Mau is really important to us, if it is central and critical, then we should do anything to protect it,” her mother would say.

Thankfully, Wanjira says we have many young climate champions protecting the environment. Some are supported by the Wangari Maathai Scholarship through The Rockefeller Foundation and the Green Belt Movement. Others are nurtured by The Hummingbird Leadership project, a programme for building character and personal leadership skills in schools.

The late Wangari Maathai carries a bucket of water on to water trees at Karura Fores. Photo: Courtesy.

“To meet these young people is to meet the future Wangari Maathais! They are fantastic, brilliant, and committed. We will be okay if they continue.”

Such future Wangari Maathais include Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish environmental activist. Wanjira has not met Greta and is not sure if she knows about Wangari Maathai but “I am inspired by the fact that she is so much like my mother – courageous, focused, committed and persistent.”

Wangari Maathai’s “little thing” was to plant trees. Wanjira’s little thing is to inspire the next generation of young leaders to believe in their capacity to change their world. With her mother’s legacy, she hopes to make the planet a hospitable place for all children, and inspired by the ‘Power of One’ – that each of us can be a potent agent of change.

By SDE

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