Where will she go?

Fatuma Ibrahim before January 6, 2016 was a mother of four in Korof Harar, deep inside Wajir on the north eastern side of Kenya.

However, her husband changed this narrative on that sixth day of the year.

He stabbed her.

On her thigh.

On her leg.

On her chin.

On her right cheek and when he tried to pull out the 10-inch knife, but it was stuck.

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Ms Fatuma Ibrahim at Wajir Airport, shortly before her medical evacuation on January 7, 2016. Photo/Eunice Kilonzo

The rusty knife with a rugged handle went through her head on her right cheek and almost popped out a short distance from her left eye.

But it didn’t.

It stayed there from 5.30pm that Wednesday when he attacked her, was still there when she was taken to hospital at 2am.

Wajir Referral Hospital would not move it either otherwise, she would have “bled internally and suffocated in her own blood.”

That’s what her attending doctor said.

Our paths crossed on Thursday at around 5pm. I was part of three other journalists who had gone to airlift her to Nairobi where she would get the Intensive Care treatment she required. Nearly two hours away from her home, away from her children and away from the man, who had put her in this place. With a knife sticking out of her now swollen face.

She was very still during the flight.

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Ms Fatuma Ibrahim airborne heading to Nairobi aboard the Amref Flying Doctors plane. On her right is nurse Charles Atemba from Amref. Photo/Eunice Kilonzo

She did not move.

She did not cry.

Only half-way in the flight did she say her legs were paining.

The in-flight doctor raised her legs, dressed her wounds and gave her something for the pain.

Then I saw the scars on her thighs.

Shiny patches of skin that had once been smooth but now held reminders of previous attacks.

I began to reason maybe, just maybe, they are tribal or beauty marks or large birthmarks.

Maybe?

She would not talk to confirm or allay my fears, so I let it pass.

We got to Nairobi at 8pm, into a waiting ambulance where she was rushed to Kenyatta National Hospital.

About four hours later, she was wheeled to theater and the lodged knife removed.

By morning, she was up and talking to visitors.

Her husband was arraigned in court and he said his wife, Fatuma, wanted to commit suicide and “he was trying to help her.”

Nine days later with several trauma counseling sessions in-between, Fatuma was fit to be discharged from Kenyatta National Hospital.

I was fortunate to meet her before she left ward 5A.

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A few minutes before being discharged. Photo/Eunice Kilonzo

Then she smiled.

And I saw the missing front teeth. Probably four or three.

“He knocked them out in a previous fight,” she said through a translator.

“He has beaten me not ten or twenty times, several times: I don’t know how many.”

She smiled some more when she walked into the waiting ambulance that would take her out of the hospital.

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The husband Mohammed Deq on the other hand was still in police custody.

I called my mother and we discussed about Fatuma and she asked me: But where will she go?

My friend and editor, Zipporah Musau, asked: “But where will she go? Back to the same home where she was stabbed? Where she had endured so much violence? Is she safe there?

These questions stung me: Where will she go?

Those who came to discharge her said they would take her to relatives, away from her home but back to her children.

Where will Ms Fatuma Ibrahim (really) go? She has no Identification Card, she has no skills and she is unemployed.

Where will she go?

 

For more information read here, here and here.

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My 25 years as a prostitute – BBC News

Right from the start life was handing me lemons, but I’ve always tried to make the best lemonade I can.

I grew up in the 1960s on the West Side of Chicago. My mother died when I was six months old. She was only 16 and I never learned what it was that she died from – my grandmother, who drank more than most, couldn’t tell me later on. The official explanation is that it was “natural causes”.

I don’t believe that. Who dies at 16 from natural causes? I like to think that God was just ready for her. I heard stories that she was beautiful and had a great sense of humour. I know that’s true because I have one also.

It was my grandmother that took care of me. And she wasn’t a bad person – in fact she had a side to her that was so wonderful. She read to me, baked me stuff and cooked the best sweet potatoes. She just had this drinking problem. She would bring drinking partners home from the bar and after she got intoxicated and passed out these men would do things to me. It started when I was four or five years old and it became a regular occurrence. I’m certain my grandmother didn’t know anything about it.

She worked as a domestic in the suburbs. It took her two hours to get to work and two hours to get home. So I was a latch-key kid – I wore a key around my neck and I would take myself to kindergarten and let myself back in at the end of the day. And the molesters knew about that, and they took advantage of it.

via My 25 years as a prostitute – BBC News.

Angelina Jolie Pitt: Diary of a Surgery

By Angelina Jolie Pitt:

TWO years ago I wrote about my choice to have a preventive double mastectomy. A simple blood test had revealed that I carried a mutation in the BRCA1 gene. It gave me an estimated 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer. I lost my mother, grandmother and aunt to cancer.

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I wanted other women at risk to know about the options. I promised to follow up with any information that could be useful, including about my next preventive surgery, the removal of my ovaries and fallopian tubes.

I had been planning this for some time. It is a less complex surgery than the mastectomy, but its effects are more severe. It puts a woman into forced menopause. So I was readying myself physically and emotionally, discussing options with doctors, researching alternative medicine, and mapping my hormones for estrogen or progesterone replacement. But I felt I still had months to make the date.

via Angelina Jolie Pitt: Diary of a Surgery – NYTimes.com.

Kidney Disease: The faces of strength

Today, is World Kidney Day.

A day to talk about the diseases that affect the bean-shaped organs on the back of either sides of your spine. The two organs, the size of your fists, that help you urinate, balance the acidity levels of your blood, create hormones and a lot more.

Before last year in October, I had not given much thought to kidneys. It was until I got a story tip about a young lady, Caroline Wangechi Ndiragu who was suffering from a severe form of Kidney disease. End Stage Renal Disease.

I met her in a relative’s home and I was not sure what to say to her. I saw pain and confusion on her face and on her parents. As a journalist, I was there with my pen, notebook and an open mind to learn how it is to live with kidney disease.

The interview led to this article published on The Daily Nation. It was her one week diary, narrating her experience through dialysis where her blood would be mechanically cleaned. It drained her as she hoped for funds to go for a transplant in India, a kidney donated to her by her maternal uncle.

When I asked her what she would like to do once she got her new kidney, she told me: “I would like to drink a glass of Fanta orange soda.”

That stung me. She longed for something that would have otherwise been considered ordinary or even mundane by others. To simply sip Fanta Orange. She could not do it as all the fluid and sugars from it would be retained in her body until the next dialysis session.

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Fortunately, after the story ran people sent in their donation in cash, prayers and words of encouragement. Caroline 2

In a months time, November 25; Caroline, her aunt and uncle were India bound. They left for the transplant. I kept in touch through Whatsapp on their time there up to the day Caroline and her uncle were wheeled into the operating room on January 14.

I was overwhelmed: both scared and excited in equal measures. I had read of how people died on the operating tables and honestly, I was not too sure what would happen.

You can imagine my joy when the aunt, Charity, sent me pictures of Caroline and Simon, the uncle from the theater. I cried. I cried some more.

I called her mother, Lydia and shared my relief and all she could tell me was: “My daughter is going to be fine. I don’t know how to thank you Eunice.”

I cried some more.

On March 1, on Sunday, I was in Mombasa when my phone rang in the morning. It was Lydia, Caroline’s mother.

She said: “Caroline will be coming back on Tuesday, March 3. Are you in Nairobi? We would like to have you at the airport.”

I could not get back in time. I was meant to leave Mombasa for the 8 hours drive to Nairobi on Tuesday. They, Caroline’s entourage, would land hours after I set foot in Nairobi.

I replied: “I will not make it, but I will come home to meet you. I will come to see her in a week.”

Six days later, I was travelling to an unknown location, just kept calm by the directions Lydia told me over the phone. Four hours later, I was a top a motor-bike, traversing the stony dusty paths of Chaka in Nyeri County into a little location called Maragema.

And then I saw her. Caroline.

She came out first to meet me. I could not recognise her. She was lighter, plump and jolly.

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She jumped up to me before I had descended the roaring motor-bike.

“See, I am fine Eunice. You helped me,” she said leading me into their house. Her mother joined us in a little while and embraced me in tears.

I will not cry here. Not in front of all these people, I said to myself.

To stop the tears I said: ” I bought you Fanta!”

She laughed, her mother joined in, her father jumped in too as well as Simon, the donor and the hero, her aunt Charity and Caroline’s younger brother, Richard. The place turned into a feast. There was talking, eating and drinking of tea and Fanta.

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I had never thought in October when I met this family that we would ever meet like this, over 300Kms away from Nairobi. I never thought I would be here among all these people.

“My new kidney from my uncle began working immediately it was put in my body. I can now eat anything. I now eat over five plates of food, six eggs for breakfast and about three litres of water. I have a second chance,” Ms Wangechi said.

Today, as we mark World Kidney Day, I want to celebrate Caroline. I want to celebrate her hope of a second chance and her determination despite the hurdles and challenges of the dialysis. Now, she still has to brace herself for the life long medication she is to take so that her body does not reject her new kidney. Unfortunately, the drugs are quite costly and Caroline’s parents are afraid they may not afford them. Continue reading “Kidney Disease: The faces of strength”

My Dad’s Descent Into Terrifying Madness | KUOW News and Information

The few times I did visit, I found him in a wheelchair, hooked up to oxygen, so happy to see me.“Hey,” he’d whisper. “Let’s get out of here and smoke a doob!”I’d laugh, tell him I didn’t bring any pot.So we’d settle for a cigarette in the nursing home’s smoking room.He’d suffered several strokes and lost all his teeth, leaving him to speak in a language he jovially referred to as “Strokenese.”I knew he was dying. For most of his life, I’d felt like he never wanted to live. Now was his chance to give in.On my last visit, I said everything I’d ever wanted to say.I forgave him for the way he treated me, and I meant it.I told him that I loved him.I told him he’d be in my heart and that I’d carry his spirit with me as I walked down the aisle to get married.He apologized for everything he’d put me through. He said he wished he could’ve been a better father.Through tears, I asked him if he was afraid to die.With a toothless grin, he thought a moment.“I just hope when I reach the pearly gates Saint Peter doesn’t make me spell chrysanthemum to get in,” he said.He died a short time later of renal failure. He was 52.

via My Dad’s Descent Into Terrifying Madness | KUOW News and Information.