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The curious case of the ‘midnight lovers’

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#WomenwithDisabilities
Belinda Adhiambo.

By Maryanne W. Waweru

So as you may be aware, I’m on a quest to document the pregnancy and childbirth experiences of women with disability in Kenya. Now, a few days ago I met Belinda Adhiambo, a mother of one. Her son is three-months old. Belinda has a physical disability; she is an amputee. Belinda lost her leg at the age of three years when she was involved in a road accident. Her leg had to be amputated.

During our conversation, Belinda mentioned something that piqued my interest.

A few years ago, as Belinda interacted with fellow women with disability in Kibera, where she grew up, something interesting dawned on her.

Belinda realized that most women with disability, who were mothers, never got married. They never seemed to have partners. Most were single mothers. She wondered why. To understand the issue better, Belinda decided to hold a community dialogue where she brought together other women with disabilities to discuss issues around their sexual reproductive health.

Among the things that Belinda found out during this dialogue was that many of the women were in relationships. Because women with disability also have feelings and desires, something that society doesn’t seem to be comfortable with. Many people assume that people with disability have no sexual feelings, have no desire for intimacy, and should not have children or start their own families.

Now, what Belinda established is that for many of these women in relationships, their male partners would come into their houses in the dead of night –at around 1am. They would then have sex with them, before sneaking out at about 3am. Two hours of passionate rendezvous. Belinda labelled these men the ‘midnight lovers’. These are men who are in relationships with women with disability, but can never be seen with them during the day. They are kept as a little secret.

At least someone desires me

Belinda noted that the women would entertain the ‘midnight lovers’ because they felt that they did not have a choice.

“Like who will love me with this condition of mine? Like shouldn’t I just be grateful that at least someone desires me, even if it’s in the cover of darkness? Isn’t that better than nothing?”

From the dialogue, Belinda established that most men are afraid to come out openly with lovers who are disabled. It’s embarrassing. It doesn’t fit right with society. What will their family members say? Their friends? It’s not something they are prepared to deal with. So they would rather keep it discreet and meet their lovers clandestinely. They prefer to keep them as their little secret; the one that nobody ever has to know about.

Now, unfortunately, by the time the women are realizing what’s going on, they have two, three, four children. Sometimes, the children have different fathers.

Their midnight lovers of course have their own girlfriends and wives whom they are proudly seen with during the day. At night, they continue coming to see them. The women with disability are left holding the short end of the stick. Used, denied and unsupported by their midnight lovers…

The good thing is that nowadays, Belinda says there are increasing empowerment programs for women with disability that educate them on their rights, including those pertaining to their sexual reproductive health. Programs that educate them on protected and safe sex, and the need for them to use contraceptives so that they can have children when and if they want them. Their exposure to these empowerment engagements are enabling them make more informed decisions about their sexual activities. However, she says a lot more still needs to be done. I will continue writing about this #WomenwithDisabilities topic, so keep following this blog and on my social media pages as well.

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If you are a woman with disability, or know a woman with disability who would like to share their/your pregnancy and childbirth experience, please reach out to me on maryanne@mummytales.com

What are your thoughts about Belinda’s observations? Had you known about it? Please share in the comments section below.

Also read: Maternity Care Experiences of Women with Disabilities in Kenya

Maternity Care Experiences of Women with Disabilities in Kenya

Maternity Care Experiences of Women with Disabilities in Kenya

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Let’s talk about women with disability today. What are their pregnancy and childbirth experiences? You see, I have always been curious to find this out, and how I have always intended to do so is by talking to different women with disability and documenting their stories. This has been on my mind for years, but for some reason, I have never gotten round to doing so.

Until now.

I am now on a quest to document the pregnancy and childbirth experiences of women with disability. You see, 10% of women with disabilities are of childbearing age. Unfortunately though, many women with disabilities are assumed to be sexually inactive, and therefore unlikely to have children. Which is a false assumption. Women with disability are not asexual; they have feelings and desires. They are sexually active and their experiences are significant, if the healthcare system is to offer them quality services. Their stories therefore need to be told, and I am here to do that 🙂

So, I will talk to women with different types of disability and seek their experiences regarding their access to antenatal, labor, birth and postnatal care services in health facilities or otherwise. Are there aspects of this care they they would like to see done differently? What are their stories, their experiences?

A few days ago, I decided, as one of my first steps in this journey, to talk to Judy Kihumba. Judy is a sign language interpreter, and an advocate of maternal mental health and wellness of deaf mothers. Judy is also the founder of the organization Talking Hands, Listening Eyes on PPD (THLEP), which she started with the aim of addressing the maternal health issues of deaf mums and breaking the silence on postpartum depression (PPD).

My discussion with Judy about the pregnancy and childbirth experiences of women with disability helped me gain invaluable insights as I begin my journey of documenting the pregnancy and childbirth experiences of women with disability.

Judy will link me up with deaf moms, who I will talk to and learn more about their experiences. I will be sure to share their stories here on Mummy Tales.

For now, I would like to ask that if you are, or know of a woman with disability who is pregnant or who has given birth within the last year and would be willing to share their experiences, kindly connect me to them.

I’m reachable on maryanne@mummytales.com

Let’s tell these stories together.

Mummy Tales is a platform dedicated to empowering its readers on different aspects of womanhood and motherhood. Read more motherhood experiences of Kenyan moms here. Connect with Mummy Tales on: FACEBOOK l YOU TUBEINSTAGRAM l TWITTER

Pregnant over the age of 40: a Kenyan baby shower I attended

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baby-showerKenya

Last Saturday, I attended a baby shower. It was such a special event for me, in many ways.

First, the last time I attended a baby shower was donkey years ago. It’s like all my friends and I all stopped giving birth because, age. I felt so good being in the company of my close friends again because wow! We have really missed these kinds of functions.

Second, the expectant mom is a first-time-mom. At 43! Absolutely amazing! Ehh, when I tell you this was such a great baby shower, believe me it was because all of us there, her friends, were aged 42 – 43. Mumamaz 😊. This is a baby we have waited for and prayed for, you can only imagine the excitement that comes with that.

Third, si we danced! And sang! And kigoco’d! And played games. And reminisced on our good old days of youth. When we were invincible, indomitable, indestructible and all that. We laughed so much until you could see the little tongues behind our throats. But life has a way of mellowing one down. Nowadays, my idea of having a good time is napping on the couch, novel in hand. I couldn’t be bothered to lift these weary bones to take them anywhere.

But the bones gladly lifted themselves for this baby shower. We all let our hair down and danced ourselves sore. We made lots of merry, singing and yelling ‘wapi nduruuuu’ until our throats hurt. We truly had a blast.

Your guess is as good as mine on how the following day was like. We slept in all day, our heads pounding and muscles aching, unable to move. But si ni life?

Anyway, the point of my article today is not about the fun that my girls and I had. Though we did have lots of it. The point of this article is to let you know that you can still conceive naturally after 40 years, and that it can be a smooth pregnancy. For those women and couples who are trying to conceive, don’t despair. Receive your blessing in Jesus’ name.

Congratulations my friend. We bless this child. We are here to support you. And we love you lots!

Have you had a baby after 40? How was your experience? Would you like to share it? You can email me on maryanne@mummytales.com

Mummy Tales is a platform dedicated to empowering its readers on different aspects of womanhood and motherhood. Read more motherhood experiences of Kenyan moms here. Connect with Mummy Tales on: FACEBOOK l YOU TUBEINSTAGRAM l TWITTER

Introducing a New Children’s Book by Deborah Nabubwaya Chambers

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Deborah-Nabubwaya-Chambers
Hi friends! Today, I’m really excited to share information about a new children’s book that has been authored by my dear sis-in-law Nabubwaya, who, if you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll have already met her through her motherhood experiences here.
Nabubwaya, who is based in the US, has authored her first book titled: “Kwaheri Sandy Footprints, Habari Hiking Trails” . The colouful and well-illustrated book is about a boy called Likizo, who was born into a biracial family and enjoys sharing his love for exotic foods and adventures with his friends.
The synopsis is as below:
One day, Likizo learns from his father that his family would be relocating from sunny California to a small city in Ohio due to work obligations during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Likizo was scared to move far away to start a new life, unsure of what the future would hold for his family. The unforeseen future did not seem that exciting especially since it meant that new changes would disrupt his preferred routine.
Would things ever be the same in the new town? Would his new friends in Ohio want to learn more about Africa, his mama’s original homeland? Would they enjoy his mama’s African delicacies cooked with so much love and warmth? Will he fit in a small town and make good friends?
The themes represented in this book include friendship, diversity, inclusivity, kindness, value, family, acceptance, generosity, persistence, and growing up. See the world through the eyes of Likizo, an eight-year-old boy. This story shows the value of facing the big, scary steps that families are making during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s about celebrating our good friends and family even when they are far away.
Reading age: 3 – 12 years
Number of pages: 41
“Kwaheri Sandy Footprints, Habari Hiking Trails” by Deborah Nabubwaya Chambers is currently available for sale HERE on Amazon Kindle Edition for $9.99 and Paperback for $16.99.
Once again, congratulations sis and looking forward to more of your books!
Mummy Tales is a platform dedicated to empowering its readers on different aspects of womanhood and motherhood. Read more motherhood experiences of Kenyan moms here. Connect with Mummy Tales on: FACEBOOK l YOU TUBEINSTAGRAM l TWITTER

“Why I Bought Myself a Fake Wedding Ring” -Mary Gititu

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Mary Gititu, 26, is a Kenyan mother of one. In this video, Mary opens up about her unplanned pregnancy, the intense heartbreak from the man she loved so much, the endless tears she cried, breaking the news to her mom (something she was afraid to do for five long dreary months), and why she thinks a name could have contributed to the downfall of her relationship. Watch Mary tell her story below (long video alert).

How does co-parenting with an ex look like? How do you do so while dealing with your feelings of hurt, betrayal, anger… How do you answer questions from your child asking where their father is, and when they’ll see him again? This is part 2 of Gititu’s story, where she opens up about her experiences, and letting go of the man she loved so much (long video alert). Watch it below:

Also, Mary is the is the author of the book ‘Broken Vessel’ where she shares more of her interesting motherhood experiences, many of which I know you will relate to, just like I did. You can purchase her book by reaching out to Mary directly: gititumary@yahoo.com or +254758 526873.

Mummy Tales is a platform dedicated to empowering its readers on different aspects of womanhood and motherhood. Read more motherhood experiences of Kenyan moms here. Connect with Mummy Tales on: FACEBOOK l YOU TUBEINSTAGRAM l TWITTER

Gender Based Violence Survivor Stories: Why I Left my Marriage after Just Six Months

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Last week, a friend of mine told me about this 31-year-old lady who, after just six months of marriage, walked out of it.

Hers had been a long-distance relationship as she and her boyfriend both worked in different Counties. After dating for slightly under two years, they eventually held their customary wedding ceremony six months ago. After the traditional wedding, she quit her job as an Administrative Assistant and joined her husband, a businessman, in his hometown.

So what happened in those six months, enough for her to walk out, vowing never to return?

Well, she says that immediately after the traditional wedding, she started looking for work as she didn’t want to stay idle. She also wanted to earn her own money. But her husband was hesitant about her getting a job. He, in not so many words, implored her to stay at home. He said that her money would not be necessary because he would adequately provide for her. He asked that she focus on trying to conceive as soon as possible.

Also See: He Slapped me Hard Because I asked him to Serve me Food. I was Still Weak from Childbirth

Though not fully convinced she didn’t protest much because, as a newlywed, she didn’t want to start disagreeing with her husband that early in the marriage. But soon, she began feeling trapped.

Strangely, each time she stepped out of the house – even to the local kiosk, her phone would soon start buzzing. It was her husband, asking her why she was going to the shops yet ‘everything she needed was in the house’. Her husband would always ensure that the house was well-stocked with supplies, so he needed an explanation about what it was she was going to buy.

Also, how he knew each time she stepped out of the house even when he was miles away remained a mystery to her. But he would always know. Seems like someone was watching her. And reporting her. Or maybe he had a hidden camera in the house?

She also began to realize that no matter what she did, it was never enough for her husband. The bed was never spread straight enough, his shoes were not shiny enough, his shirt collar was not well-pressed, the tea leaves were not enough, the bathroom was not clean enough, the salt in the food was too little or too much… basically, everything she did was not enough for him. Since nothing was ever good enough for him, he was always annoyed, and snapping at everything. Whenever she was around him, she felt as though she was walking on eggshells.

Restricted Phone Calls

Every single phone call she received – she had to explain who it was and the nature of their conversation. Including her mother.

In fact, he forbade her from talking to her mother often, and told her that he would only allow her to do so ‘once a week’ and the conversation ‘should not go beyond two minutes’.

He also went though her list of friends (he had written them down in a notebook) and she watched him cross off those she shouldn’t be friends with anymore.

Waiting for a Slap, and More

Another reason she gave is that even though the man hadn’t inflicted any physical abuse on her, her instincts told her that it was just a matter of time before he did so. The hot slap across her face was coming. She could tell. And with all the cases of domestic violence and women being battered to death by their ‘dear husbands’, she wasn’t going to be one of them.

So she fled for her dear life, in her own words.

Too Soon to Leave your Marriage!

Family, relatives and friends were shocked. Most told her that she should have hang on a little bit longer. That it was too soon to leave. Had they even tried counseling? Had they tried to resolve her issues differently? Had they involved the elders? Had she tried prayer and fasting? Had she watched ‘War Room’?

Other sympathetic ones told her that because the man was already abusing her emotionally, he would eventually have turned out to be physically violent.

She’s now back home to her parents. So those are the reasons why she left her marriage after six short months. Also, she’s just found out she’s pregnant.

What are your thoughts about this woman’s situation? If you’ve ever walked out of a marriage and you would like to share your story, email me on maryanne@mummytales.com

Mummy Tales is a platform dedicated to empowering its readers on different aspects of womanhood and motherhood. Read more motherhood experiences of Kenyan moms here. Connect with Mummy Tales on: FACEBOOK l YOU TUBEINSTAGRAM l TWITTER

You may also like to see the video below titled: From the Diary of a Divorced Woman – Oops Zippy!

He Slapped me Hard because I asked him to Serve me Food. I was still Weak from Childbirth

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Hello friends. So today, I feature the story of a young 29-year-old mom who sent me her story about her abusive relationship, and the incident that eventually made her leave. Read her story below.

PS: If you have a story you’d like to share, you can email me on maryanne@mummytales.com and I’ll be in touch.

“I got into a relationship with a man who I believed was ‘the one’. However, his true colors would soon begin to show. He started attacking me right from the early stages of the relationship.

After coming home from work, he would go through my handbag and phone just to check who called or sent me text messages. Whenever he thought he saw something suspicious, he would demand an explanation. Sometimes he would hit me while doing so and the more I would try to reason with him, the more he would beat me up. The abuse went on as the relationship progressed.

Before long, I discovered I was pregnant. I hoped that he would change since we were now going to have a baby.

It so happened that my pregnancy was complicated and ridden with different health issues. Despite being aware of this, he didn’t make things any easier. There are days when he would attack me, make attempts to strangle me, hit me and outrightly say that the pregnancy wasn’t his.

You may also like to watch Lillian Mbuthia’s story below. After dating for 7 years and being married for 3 years, Lillian left her marriage. She tells her story.

Meanwhile, my health challenges during the pregnancy led me to lose my job as I would miss work so many times. When I became jobless, the abuse intensified. He would say that I was nothing without him. He told me not to think about leaving him, threatening that if I did, he would track me and kill both me and the baby. I lived in perpetual fear of him. I also wondered where I would go -pregnant and jobless.

“He’ll Kill you One Day!”

Meanwhile, my midwife cautioned me that the stress from my relationship was affecting the pregnancy and giving me high blood pressure. I used to confide in my sisters and my grandma about what was going in, and they would caution me, telling me that if I didn’t leave, it was only a matter of time before he would kill me one day. But I was too scared to leave him because I was sure he’d track me and kill me and my baby -as he had said many times.

However, one day when he beat me up so bad, I attempted to leave. But he beat me some more and locked me in the house before leaving for work.

Eventually, by the grace of God, I delivered my baby. One time, I begged him to serve me food (I was weak from the birth and was still bleeding) and instead of giving me food, he slapped me across my face because I had dared ask him to serve me.

Mother-in Law Supported Him

I got a job when my baby was around one year old. Then he started accusing me of sleeping around because I suddenly had money. He would gang up with his mum and they’d frustrate me. (I used to live with his mum upcountry, and she knew about the abuse).

One time, she told me “Even if he beats you up, I will still support him because he’s my son.” She would often ridicule me.

The last time he hit me was when our son was 1 year and nine months old. That was the last straw. I got up and told myself that I was not going to raise my son in that kind of environment. I vowed that was the last time that he was going to hit me.  That day, I left. Our relationship lasted three years. Three years of continued abuse.

I rented a single room and began life with my son. It’s where we still are today. I hustle together with my son. Starting out has not been easy; I don’t have much, but I know God will provide. It’s not easy, but at least me and my son have peace.

It has been six months since I left. He has never reached out to know about me or our son, and that’s okay.

Also Read: Why and Educated, Intelligent Woman Like me Stayed in an Abusive Marriage

What I would like to tell a woman is that if he hits you for the first time, he’ll surely do it again. And again and again. Don’t wait until its too late. And don’t be afraid to leave and start your life together with your child. There is no harm in being a single mother and I believe you will be helping your children more by leaving, rather than raising them in the toxic environment of domestic violence.” -END

Have you ever been in an abusive relationship, which you left? What would you like to tell other women based on your experience? Email me on maryanne@mummytales.com and I’ll be in touch.

If you are in an abusive relationship or know someone who is, you can call the National Gender Violence Helpline (toll-free) number: 1195 and you will be assisted. Calling 1195 is free and operates on a 24-hour basis so you can call at any time, from any part of Kenya. 

Mummy Tales is a platform dedicated to empowering its readers on different aspects of womanhood and motherhood. Read more motherhood experiences of Kenyan moms here. Connect with Mummy Tales on: FACEBOOK l YOU TUBEINSTAGRAM l TWITTER

Caesarean Section Delivery: What You Need To Know Before The Cut

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What can I expect from a caesarean section delivery? Which is the best week in pregnancy to undergo a cesarean delivery? Is it best to have it under spinal anaesthesia or general anaesthesia? What are the associated risks of a caesarean section to both the mother and her baby?

These are some of the questions many pregnant women have, especially if there is the likelihood of them delivering via caesarean section. Read more about it in this article.

By Dr. Sikolia Wanyonyi, Consultant in Obstetrics and Foetal Medicine, Nairobi.

Caesarean section (C-section) is the commonest surgical operation performed worldwide. Over the years, there has been a worrying upward trend in the rates of C- sections performed in many institutions globally.

The rates in most developed countries (with exception of Scandinavian countries) are above 30 per cent with rates in some parts of South America being as high as 75 per cent. In Kenya the rates vary depending on the institution. In most private hospitals and tertiary hospitals the rates range from 20 per cent to as high at 55 per cent while in public hospitals and middle level facilities the rates could be as low as two per cent.

According the World Health Organization (WHO), the ideal ratio of C-section in a country should be between 10 – 15 per cent. A rate below 10 per cent is considered to represent substandard care while high rates may indicate unnecessary use of the surgery.

The aim of C-section is for safe delivery of the baby and mother. There are many reasons why this procedure is performed. Broadly, these are divided into elective and emergency.

Elective Caesarean Section

An elective C-section refers to a planned surgery and categorized into four groups depending on the urgency of the surgery. Some people erroneously think that an elective C-section is one that is performed on request by the woman. This is not always the case since there are many situations where it is known beforehand that vaginal delivery would be dangerous.

Such dangers include an abnormally implanted placenta, previous multiple caesarean sections, or other surgeries on the womb such as fibroid removal, extremely big babies and congenital anomalies such as hydrocephalus among others.

In these cases, the attending doctors will advise on the timing of the delivery, usually between 38 to 39 weeks. The reason for this is to prevent any eventuality of the women going into labour, a situation that could necessitate an emergency C-section with associated attending risks.

Emergency Caesarean Section

Emergency C-section on the other hand is performed if in the assessment of the attending doctor, it is felt that continuing with either labour or pregnancy could be dangerous to the health of either the mother or the foetus. Some of the indications include distress of the baby, prolonged labour, failure of the cervix to open up, abnormal bleeding in pregnancy and prolapse of the umbilical cord among others.

Spinal Anaesthesia

Unless otherwise indicated, a C-section should always be performed under spinal anaesthesia. This is the safest mode of anaesthesia in a pregnant woman. During this procedure, the woman is given a numbing injection on their back. This numbs the lower part of the body and the woman does not perceive pain as the surgery is undertaken.

Besides the advantage of being able to see and bond with the baby immediately after birth, spinal anaesthesia is safe because it limits the risk of choking with stomach contents that is more likely to happen with pregnant women receiving general anaesthesia.

Caesarean Section Risks

While C-section remains a life saving procedure for the mother and the baby, it is also associated with risks to both of them. Every mother undergoing the procedure either electively or as an emergency should be fully aware of these risks and discuss them with their attending practitioners.

While safety of the procedure has improved over the years with the advance in medicine practice, one has to remember that this is a major operation. It is for this reason that a caesarean section should only be performed when there is compelling medical reasons to perform it.

Some of the immediate risks associated with C-section include excessive bleeding, injury to other organs such as bladder and gut, infection, prolonged pain post surgery and increased risk of forming clots within the blood vessels, which could be lethal.

The long-term risks include persistent scar pain, scarring of the abdomen making subsequent surgeries more dangerous, limit on the number of pregnancies, risk of placenta sticking to the womb which in itself is a life threating condition and higher risk of low implantation of placenta in subsequent pregnancies.

Babies born through C-section are also at increased risk of breathing problems, compared to those born vaginally. This results in higher incidences of admission for special care nursery.  There are also attended anaesthetic risks like those mentioned earlier.

We therefore need to bear in mind that caesarean section is a very important life-saving procedure beneficial to both the mother and baby. Despite the above risks, there have been many advances in the medical field practice that have improved the safety of C-section deliveries. However, this does not justify deliberate use of the procedure as an alternative to vaginal birth. It should only be reserved for those women who need it.

Are you an expert in the field of maternal health? Do you have an article you would like to submit? Email it to me on maryanne@mummytales.com

You may also to like to watch Catherine’s experience below.

Mummy Tales is a platform dedicated to empowering its readers on different aspects of womanhood and motherhood. Read more motherhood experiences of Kenyan moms here. Connect with Mummy Tales on: FACEBOOK l YOU TUBEINSTAGRAM l TWITTER

Kala Azar Disease in Turkana

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Termite mound in Turkana.

*On a cloudy Thursday morning, a mother stands beside her 11 year old son as he lies on the cold floor of a health center in Namoruputh location, Loima district in Turkana County. The boy is too weak, unable to sit up or stand on his own.

Epyot Etaba and his mother have been at the health center for the last four weeks where he has been receiving treatment for his failing health. Getting to the health center was not an easy journey for mother and son as the transport and communication network in Namoruputh is poor. The roads are inexistent and most residents have to walk long distances to seek basic services, including healthcare.

Weak and unable to walk on his own, Epyot’s mother had carried him on her back, trekking over the dry and rough terrain in the hot weather. It is a journey that took them five agonizing days.

A health worker at Namoruputh Health Center explains the state in which Epyot arrived at the facility.

“He was completely dehydrated, emaciated and with severe malnutrition. His lips were parched, he was dirty and barely conscious. He and his mother had not eaten for days.”

The health worker also noted that Epyot’s abdomen was swollen and his skin filled with burn wounds, which appeared to be septic. Even before embarking on any medical tests, she already appeared to know what Epyot was ailing from.

“I knew that he was suffering from a rare disease called Visceral Leishmaniasis, which is also known as Kala Azar,” she says.

Kala Azar is listed by the World Health Organization as one of the 17 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). These are a diverse group of diseases with distinct characteristics that are common among the poorest people.

Kala Azar is transmitted through the bites of infected female sandflies. Sand flies are common in areas where the land is dry and hot, there is livestock and there are termite mounds.

Having never been to school, Epyot and his family are pastoralists. They spend their days grazing their cows, goats and camels moving from place to place in search of pasture and water. The areas they roam are dry, hot and filled with hundreds of termite mounds –the perfect habitat for sand flies.

Symptoms of the disease include high fever, weight loss, fatigue, general weakness and anaemia. As the infection spreads, it affects some organs such as the skin, liver, spleen and bone marrow. Most Kala Azar patients develop an enlarged abdomen –caused by the swollen liver and spleen. If left untreated, Kala Azar could be fatal. But even when faced with glaring health conditions which would need immediate medical attention, various obstacles make it difficult for populations affected by this disease to do so. This is because they live in areas of high poverty that are underdeveloped with little or no infrastructure.

“Health centers are few and far apart, which forces residents to walk for tens of kilometres to reach the nearest health facility, says the health worker.

Economic factors, strong cultural practices and low education levels also add on to the health challenges among these communities. Because of these factors, pastoralist communities device their own treatment methods for various health ailments.

A clinical officer at Namoruputh Health Center describes how some of the community members try to treat Kala Azar.

“They take camel dung lumps and burn them in the fire until they become red hot briquettes. They then take the hot coals and press them onto the enlarged abdomen of the sick person, in the belief that the germs in the stomach will be destroyed. They also cut the skin around the abdomen it with a sharp razor blade and as the blood gushes out, they believe the germs causing the stomach to swell exit together with the blood,” he says.

But the swelling never goes down. In fact, the hot burns cause raw wounds and in most cases, become septic. Children are not spared from these forms of painful traditional ‘treatment’.

A child’s health can deteriorate more quickly than that of an adult. If immediate medical treatment is not sought, the child can lose his life in no time. Unfortunately, because of health centers being far away, unavailability of transport and ignorance, many children suffering from Kala Azar die in their homes.

Thankfully though for Epyot, he had managed to reach the health center just in time. But this was after failed attempts by his family to offer him the traditional ‘treatment’. Epyot had had his abdomen burnt with hot camel dung briquettes in the hope of healing him. But the treatment had not worked and in a last bid to save his life, his mother had carried the frail boy on her back to the Namoruputh Health Center, in a journey that took them five days.

“Because he arrived here dehydrated and emaciated, we had to first put him on a meal of specialized nutritious porridge to try boost his immunity. The porridge is made of 65 per cent corn, 25 per cent soya and 10 per cent sugar and which is then mixed with powdered milk. We also put him on daily iron and folic acid supplements because he was anaemic,” says the health worker, who adds that Epyot also began immediate treatment for the glaring septic wounds on his abdomen.

Despite his weakness, Epyot is on his way to recovery, having been on Kala Azar treatment for the last two weeks, and which will go on for another two weeks. He is on a drug called sodium stibogluconate (SSB), which is a 30 day course administered intravenously.

“It is a regimen that must be strictly adhered to. We discourage patients from returning home before the treatment is over because they will default, and this could lead to their death. Besides, most of them live far away so it only makes sense for them to remain here until they complete the treatment course,” says the health worker.

Namoruputh Health Center does not have an in-patient capacity, but because of the treatment requirements for Kala Azar, patients make do with sleeping on the floors in the consultation rooms or on the veranda of the hospital.

Kala Azar is an expensive condition to treat, and it requires about 120,000 shillings for one patient. Aside from a basic consultation fee, Kala Azar patients at the Namoruputh Health Center do not have to pay any other treatment costs, offering families great relief.

So as Epyot recovers from an infection that threatens his livelihood, it only points out to various issues faced by pastoralist communities especially where health care is concerned. However, there is hope because with the devolved system of government which also includes devolvement of health services, it is expected that county governments will be able to address some of these challenges and offer better options for their residents.

*I originally published this article in The Star newspaper in 2014.

Are you implementing a community project targeting mothers that you’d like me to write about? Email me on maryanne@mummytales.com and I’ll get back to you.

Motherhood in Kenya: I Didn’t Think Women Living with Albinism Got Pregnant

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When Catherine, a young woman living with albinism found out she was pregnant, she was so shocked because all along she had thought that women with albinism do not get pregnant. So what happened next? Watch her story below and share your thoughts.

In the video, I also touch on the topic of women’s experiences during labor and childbirth, especially from health care providers. I talk about how birthing mothers should be given respectful maternity care at all times, and there is nothing that should warrant mistreatment of women during childbirth. Watch and share your comments.

Do you have a motherhood story you’d like to share? Or do you have any feedback on the stories here at Mummy Tales? Email me on maryanne@mummytales.com

Mummy Tales is a platform dedicated to empowering its readers on different aspects of womanhood and motherhood. Read more motherhood experiences of Kenyan moms here. Connect with Mummy Tales on: FACEBOOK l YOU TUBEINSTAGRAM l TWITTER

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