For weeks I have wondered if/when/how to write this post. If I do win the Kshs.50,000 in this video competition, I would use that money to help someone I know get a jaw. He is our neighbor in shagz/ocha/upcountry. His jaw was removed in an operation to remove a lymphatic cancer tumor that had grown so big, he could only be fed through a tube.
A few weeks ago, I went to visit him at Kenyatta National Hospital. I’ve been to KNH before but I have never gone beyond the parking lot. So this time I walked in around 4.20 p.m. My parents were already there. I found a crowd at the entrance where a guard was restricting their entry, saying it was not yet visiting time. Visiting hours start at 4.30 p.m. Seeing the crowd grow larger, he waved us through, and the swarm of people made for the elevators.
We were like 100 people in that elevator, I kid you not! I stood near the door and hoped not to get some kind of disease by the time we got to the 5th floor. I called my mum who told me to go to Wing 5B. There is some sort of reception with benches where my parents talked with the father of Maoga, the patient I was visiting.
His father looked like a heart broken man; he was confused at times and you could tell the stress was getting to him. Since my parents had already seen Maoga, he took me to see him. We walked a short distance down the corridor and turned into the ward.
I do not dislike hospitals. The smell of antiseptic does not bother me. I entered the ward, a large male word that had about 6 patients with curtains separating them. I saw some sleeping, one whose head was completely swathed in bandage… and finally took in the sight of Maoga.
He held a white cloth to his mouth, which was largely wet. That was the first thing I noticed. He was standing by his bed, and looked at you in the eye. It was hard to maintain eye contact, so I looked away from those sunken eyes. The last time I had seen him, he had a lump at his throat that was spreading to his jaw, but he had been otherwise healthy-looking. Seeing him like this, almost emaciated because all he could take for months was a liquid diet, was hard on anyone.
He shook my hand, saying he knew I am Samora’s sister. My brother Sam is a med student at UoN, and since they do all their practical work at KNH, had visited Maoga a couple of times. He had been worse off then, before the surgery, and was weak on the floor when my Sam found him and helped him back on the bed. To talk, he had to take the piece of cloth from his mouth, and it’s hard to form words clearly when you don’t have teeth, let alone a lower jaw. Drool fell on his clothes yet he maintained his dignity, talked without faltering and looked at you in the eye.
Tears were welling up in my eyes and I looked away, my eyes falling on his bed. On an Uchumi plastic paper-bag were scrawled Bible verses and some writing that might have been the story of his life. A pen and Bible were next to the plastic bag. His father noticed me looking at it, turned to his son and smoothed his shaggy hair told him not to worry, he’ll get him out of there. Maoga said he wanted to leave the hospital, it was cold at night. He’s around 25 years old but at that time he may have been 5. When his father talked to him, he (the father) smoothed his hair, patted his back, held his hand, touched his cheek… like you would a child.
His father then showed me a picture of how he looked like before surgery. The tumor had grown so much his face was distorted it. Thankfully his cancer is the local kind, so it did not spread anywhere. He then showed me another picture of him after surgery, and though the tumor was gone, so was the shape of his face.
Maoga said he needed to shave; his hair was shaggy. His father gave him 200bob and told him to make sure the barber who comes around does it. He told him just two more days and he’ll be out of hospital. I didn’t know how true his promise was considering he was having difficulty raising money for the hospital bill.
I removed a notebook and pen from my bag, tore out a few pages I had already written some notes, and gave it to him. His father prompted him to write his name, and since he had to let go of the piece of cloth to write, drool involuntarily landed on the page. His father wiped it away and smiled at the name he’d written: Gilbert Maoga. He then told him we had to leave but told him he’d be back the following day.
His parents organized a harambee to clear the hospital bill for the initial surgery, where my parents contributed what they could. Now that he is physically well, that sense of urgency may not be there. His poor parents cannot afford to pay for another surgery to fix his jaw. I want to do this for him, if only so he can smile again.
I don’t know if the Kshs. 50,000 will be enough, but I will find out. For now, I need your vote here. Yes I know the whole registration-verification-login-vote process is long, but you’ll be doing it for a worthy cause.
P.S. This was added after the post has been published
Turns out that even if I do win the 50K, and votes are alone are not the determinant of the winner, he still needs 100K more for the surgery which will cost Kshs.150,000. I am running a social media campaign to raise the funds to the MPESA number 0727832685
And as someone has commented, why didn’t I go to the media? I haven’t mentioned it but I did. Oh how I tried. I called, I emailed, I tweeted them, I actually met some of them… but they all said their editors have to approve, that they don’t do appeal stories anymore (and that same night you’ll see an appeal story).. This right here, this blog right here, is my media.