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Wife, mother, leader: Remembering Joyce Laboso, ‘voice of reason in our family’

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A month from now, July 29, will mark one year since the untimely death of Bomet County’s first female governor, the late Joyce Laboso, who succumbed to cancer.

Hours after doctors switched off Laboso’s life support machines, her husband, Edwin Abonyo, who spent years working behind the scenes, warmed his way into the hearts of Kenyans with his heartfelt speeches and wonderful memories of his beloved.

Almost a year down the line, the father of four opens up about his life after loss and how he and his children are coping. He says some days have been harder than others, but they are doing just fine.

Abonyo describes himself as a simple man from a humble background, born of Christian parents: “I like working and have a passion for farming. I try to exercise kindness and compassion whenever possible to the less fortunate in our society.”

He remembers his late wife fondly, recalling how and where they first met.

“When I first met her, I never looked back. She was beautiful, amiable, witty, and very polished. With time, her kindness and presence of mind, not to mention her simplicity, made me know she is the one,” he says.

The two met through her cousin. At the time, Abonyo was working as a tea estate manager.

“Whenever Henry (Maritim, Joyce’s cousin and Abonyo’s friend) would go visit his uncle Mr Fredrick Laboso (Joyce’s dad), I would accompany him. It is there that I got to meet Joyce.”

When cancer struck

Their love story blossomed, and then cancer struck in 1991.

“I was shattered and devastated. It was like life had come to a standstill. But of course, I had to be strong for her and for our small children then. And she battled it and we succeeded,” he says.

This battle with cancer changed the life of the young family. Joyce went through months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy which left her “very sick”; losing hair and weight. Abonyo says even her skin darkened but in the end the cancer was eliminated.

READ ALSO:   Bomet County Executives jobless after Joyce Laboso’s death

“There were a few realities that set in after that, one of them being her inability to bear more children – which we accepted and were OK with. Another being her health management practices thereafter,” he says.

The monster was to, however, come back to haunt the family years later.

“I felt heartbroken, it was very devastating and beyond comprehension. I cannot sufficiently describe in words how I actually felt. She was in the USA and called to share the results of the test. Upon her return, I put aside my issues and commitments and focussed on her,” says Abonyo.

This meant having to start treatment again. Abonyo says they had a lot of support from friends, family and politicians across the political divide.

“We live by faith. We were there for her and for each other. One of our sons also left employment in Australia and joined us at home. New technologies and approaches to cancer treatment had come into play and this gave us hope. But most of all, we prayed,” he says.

Despite everything, however, this time Joyce could not beat the cancer and Abonyo remembers the moment when they knew that this was it. This was where it ends.

“The doctors called my children and I for a conference and we went through counselling. It was then that we knew we had reached a dead end and prepared for the worst. Subconsciously, this eventuality lingered.”

Then the time they all feared came.

“Over time, during hospitalisation and as her condition deteriorated, we shared a lot. By and by her conversation lessened and was barely audible and became incomprehensible, until there was no communication. ‘I love you” was standard and my usual greeting and her response was ‘I love you too’. Our children shared the same expression and assured her of their unmitigated love. When she ceased talking, her eyes still reflected love.”

READ ALSO:   I paid bills of two cancer patients while in India with Laboso – Edwin

Despite their loss, the family remembers Joyce fondly and remain thankful for the times they had together. Abonyo says it has not been rosy and they still miss her and “interludes of sadness occasionally creep in”, especially, during any anniversary or days like Mother’s Day, weddings and funerals.

“I miss a mate, a friend, a mother to our family, a partner in life and a truly inspirational leader who genuinely wanted to bring about change. She was the voice of reason in our home and would in her perfect style calm any tensions in the family,” he says, adding that he has on occasion broken down.

The children are “equally affected and I believe they react just like I do. They are all trying their best to move on, make her proud and adapt this new normal.

Mother’s Day was particularly hard this year for them, but they got through it. They are looking forward to the first anniversary and hopefully we will be able to travel home to commemorate it.”

He looks back at life without the late Joyce and says it is a situation that you would not wish anybody to go through.

Her entry into politics

The family was known mostly because of Joyce Laboso’s career in politics and Abonyo remembers this phase of their life quite well.

He says Joyce’s entry into politics was purely accidental after the death of her sister, the late Hon Lorna Laboso who died in a plane crash.

“When the people of Sotik spoke, what we heard was that they wanted it to stay in the Laboso family and since they had already selected a female MP, it was obvious that Joyce would carry the mantle. Even though she was never a typical politician, she had strong leadership abilities so we all knew she would perform extremely well,” he says.

READ ALSO:   Bob, Eliud Kipchoge top list of 2019 most searched on Google

Abonyo says the family was at home with the decision and considered himself her biggest fan, supporting her from the sidelines and even being in-charge of her campaigns.

Then came her gunning for the gubernatorial seat in Bomet, and the drama that came with it.

“We would joke about some of the negative press and the lewd remarks that were thrown at her, or even the fact that she married out of her tribe. Joyce was very candid, forthright and firm,” recalls Abonyo.

He says that despite being quite confident of a win, there we occasional jitters: “I could feel it (that she was going to win) when going around and engaging the electorate, but of course occasionally butterflies would set in.” When she finally won, he says, it was a historical moment and one that “we will treasure for years to come.”

Her position as a governor, he says, did not change the life of the family very much.

“Our children are all grown-up and doing their own things. As a family we lead a very simple and contented life. I continued with my business in Nairobi and Joyce focused on Bomet. The glitz and glamour that came with the governor’s office notwithstanding.”

Life after Joyce’s demise 

Abonyo says the family has been coming to terms with the loss and finding themselves again. He says he has a good support system of friends and family and also keeps himself busy with his construction company work and farm management.

“His Excellency the President appointed me to sit in the State Corporations Advisory Committee, and this was a huge honour. It is an exciting and new role in governance with a joint oversight role that has exposed me to new horizons,” he says.

By Standard.co.ke


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Entertainment

‘I regret…’ Anne Kiguta opens up about posting her daughter on social media

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TV news anchor Anne Kiguta has announced that she would like to share with her fans more about her life.

However, she draws a line on exposing her children to the limelight.

Anne has three children, one from her previous marriage and fraternal twins with Jomo Gecaga.

Responding to a fan who asked her about her babies, Anne posted a photo of her and her twins but blocked out the faces.

In her response she explained,

“Gosh, so many of you have said this… was the number one response. Well, I will have to let you down on that my loves.”

She added,

“I’m rather traditional (believe it or not) so I’m vehemently against it. My babies are are all still too young, including the eldest, to be on social media.”

Anne continued,

“In fact I really regret having posted my eldest at all. Mummy already has a pretty public life. They deserve their privacy.”

But not to break her fans hearts, Anne promised,

“A reference every once in a while but nothing more than that for a long long time.  Hope  you understand.”

In another post she still emphasized,

“That is my son. Quite the charmer. If only I could tell you half of what they say! But all these are are to me sacred moments…really can’t share much more.”

Not to be daunted though, Anne promised to talk about other aspects of her life.

READ ALSO:   Bomet County Executives jobless after Joyce Laboso’s death

Here are the various topics she is open to talking about.

By Mpasho.co.ke


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Health

Shock as man ‘resurrects’ in a Kericho mortuary

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There was drama at Kapkatet sub-county hospital in Kericho on Tuesday night when a 32-year-old man who had been presumed dead and taken to the mortuary regained consciousness close to three hours later.

Mortuary attendants were getting ready to embalm Peter Kigen’s body when they noticed some movements.

Kigen, a resident of Kibwastuiyo village in Bureti Constituency, is said to have collapsed while at home before his family took him to hospital.

His younger brother, Kevin Kipkurui, said he was present when Kigen collapsed. With the help of their cousin, they took Kigen to the hospital at 5.30 pm.

“When we arrived at the casualty department, we met a doctor who asked us to register the details of the patient at the reception while he attended to him,” Kipkurui, who was still in shock, told The Standard.

After registering the patient, Kipkurui said he was again asked to the National Hospital Insurance Fund desk for further documentation of his brother.

Kigen reportedly suffers from a chronic illness.

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READ ALSO:   Bob, Eliud Kipchoge top list of 2019 most searched on Google

“When I went back to the casualty department at around 7.45 pm, I learnt my brother was dead. A nurse told me that he died long before we arrived at the hospital,” Kipkurui said.

He added: “The nurse later handed me a document to take to the mortuary attendant before my brother’s body was moved to the morgue.”

However, at 10.30 pm, Kipkuriu said, as they were waiting for embalming of Kigen’s body, they were informed that in fact, he was not dead.

Mortuary attendants who mummified the body told them that Kigen had regained consciousness.

“The mortician called me into the morgue and we saw him make movements. We were shocked. We could not understand how they could move a person who is still alive into the mortuary,” Kipkurui said.

Kigen, who spoke from his hospital bed yesterday, said he was shocked to learn that he was thought to have died and even taken to the mortuary.

“I cannot believe what just happened. How did they establish that I was dead?” he said.

Kirui, who donned his light-blue hospital uniform, was nevertheless happy to be alive and vowed to dedicate his life to evangelism once he’s discharged from hospital.

“I did not even know where I was when I regained consciousness, but I thank God for sparing my life. I will serve him for the rest of my life,” he said.

READ ALSO:   I paid bills of two cancer patients while in India with Laboso – Edwin

The hospital’s medical superintendent Gilbert Cheruiyot said Kigen was in critical condition when he was brought in.

Dr Cheruiyot said: “His relatives presumed he was dead and did not even wait for certification of death. They moved him to the mortuary, on their own.”

He said the clinical officers at the casualty were busy attending to other critically ill patients when Kigen was brought in, including an epileptic and a diabetic patient.

“They asked Kigen’s relatives to give them some time but they accused the clinicians of taking too much time and decided to take him to the mortuary. It was while the mortician was getting ready to embalm his body that she noticed some signs of life,” said Cheruiyot. He said the mortician informed the team at the casualty department which took Kigen back and begun resuscitating him. The process took three hours before the patient was stabilised.

“The patient was later taken to the ward and is responding well to treatment. We hope to discharge him in a few days,” Dr Cheruiyot said yesterday.

He added: “I advise those bringing their loved ones to the hospital to follow the laid down regulations. Before a body is moved the mortuary, it has to be certified by a clinician. In Kigen’s case, we can only say he was lucky, especially because of our qualified mortician who checked him before making any move,” said Cheruiyot.

READ ALSO:   Why Kenyans are faulting Laboso for seeking medical treatment abroad

The bizarre incident saw local MCAs, led by the Majority Leader Hezron Kipngeno, storm the hospital. This is after Chelanget MCA Hezborn Tonui demanded a statement from the heath committee over the incident that shocked the county.


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Business

Navigating through the Covid-19 Terrain and a Story of Exceptional Transformation at Optiven

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Navigating through the Covid-19 Terrain and a Story of Exceptional Transformation at Optiven

Optiven Group has continuously had all its eyes trained on its vision of economically and socially empowering and transforming the society.

This vision was however momentarily shaken by Covid-19, especially on the month of March 2020, when the first case was reported. Soon, all was not business as usual. The pandemic scared our staff and customers alike. With huge loans to pay, massive salary bills and many office rentals to cope with, everything seemed daunting. The worst was when we closed our offices and temporarily sent hundreds of staff home. That was extremely agonizing to bear.

As an entrepreneur, this was one of my worst periods ever. The headaches were not ceding ground and the only thing that was consoling was the power of prayers. It is during such times when the test of leadership comes to play.

Our most affected area of business was our sister venture entities in the name of restaurants. Indeed, we sent hundreds of staff home. We are now however thanking God that 85% of these staff are back and with a projection of bringing back the rest soon, as business starts coming back.

READ ALSO:   I paid bills of two cancer patients while in India with Laboso – Edwin

Importantly, soon after Covid-19 pandemic hit, Optiven Group was swift in adopting new strategies and quickly embracing appropriate technology to counter the new terrain. This is perhaps one of the reasons why the firm is still expanding, especially on the area of job creation and mentorship front.

It is largely courtesy of these strategies that despite the current pandemic, we have managed to launch enormous mentorship programs such as the George Wachiuri School of Mentorship and also engaged in encouraging SMEs that have really been struggling to stay afloat through our business mentorship sessions. Through the latter, we have continued to inspire over 7,000 active participants through George Wachiuri’s Facebook LIVE shows that are also available on my You Tube channel, this has continued to give hope to many.

Still, during this period, we have managed to create over 100 permanent jobs for both senior and middle level employees, plus over 200 casuals that daily work in our projects. This job increase is in line with our goal of creating over 30, 000 jobs by the year 2030.

On the real estate front, we really had to think away from the box and undertake a massive 360 degree transformation that was educated by thinking differently and changing how we used to do things before Covid-19.

READ ALSO:   Bob, Eliud Kipchoge top list of 2019 most searched on Google

Thanks to this, we have continued to provide our customers with even more offerings in terms of value additions to our projects. It is during this period of Covid-19 when we decided to put our efforts towards GoingGreen in most of our projects. Matter of fact, we have surprised our customers by further transforming our projects through installation of green energy, massive tree planting, and installation of water recycling systems, encouraging plot owners engage in farming of organic foods and subsequently feed their families from their previously idle plots. Significantly, we also changed from use of Kenya Power electricity in our projects to the use of solar energy on almost all amenities and by so doing, we have now managed to save millions of shillings in terms of KPLC bills. Most importantly, we are glad that we are now fully plugged on the green energy agenda.

All along, the company has continued to flourish through innovation, partnerships, massive philanthropy activities and even more importantly, a commitment to always entrust all our undertakings to God.

We are glad that we are consistently realizing our vision of being pacesetters in social economic transformation through opportunities such as job creation that have a positive multiplier effect on the society.

READ ALSO:   PHOTO: Bomet governor Joyce Laboso admitted in London hospital

Guided by the same vision, we always dedicate 5% of what we make in business and channel it to the less fortunate through a registered foundation viz Optiven Foundation. We have hundreds of orphans whom we support to go through school. We also support the physically challenged to get free wheelchairs and support girls to access schools. The Foundation also cares for over 300 families and helps them to get food daily.

Indeed, we at Optiven exist to economically and socially empower and transform the society.

#ChangingLives
#EyesOnTheCommunity
#CreatingJobs
#GoingGreen
#HousingKenyans

Contact Optiven Group:0790 300 300
Email: admin@optiven.co.ke Website: www.optiven.co.ke George Wachiuri Blog: www.georgewachiuri.com
YouTube: https://bit.ly/2VdSuFJ


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