By MARION NDUNG’U
In Mweiga her predicament only got worse. She was bedridden for many years and because of poor care, she developed serious bedsores.
In her weakness, she lacked the strength to turn herself and there was no one to help her achieve this important feat. With time, she helplessly watched maggots make her body their home.
Someone placed a bucket under her bed and made a small hole in the bed to allow her to answer nature’s call. Neighbours occasionally emptied the ‘toilet’, but Muthoni was generally left alone and lonely.
Then Joyce Wanjiku, the founder and executive director of Purity Elderly Care Foundation, got to Muthoni just 16 days before she died. Wanjiku is happy she got there at that time for she at least made it possible for Muthoni to die in dignity.
On Muthoni’s burial, Wanjiku was horrified to find out her children came for the ceremony. Where were they when she needed them most? wondered Wanjiku.
ABODE IS PARADISE
“Elderly people live in deplorable conditions after their children abandon them in old age. These people live next to neighbours, churches and even the administration but nobody cares about them,” said Wanjiku.
It is a matter of concern that old age – and we will all become old if road accidents and other ailments don’t claim us earlier – is seen as a curse by young people. It is common for old people to be insulted, raped, and even labelled witches. Some people see them as a nuisance and are killed over flimsy excuses.
In Nyeri County, many aged people are shunned and neglected. They live in deplorable states, while their children are doing well wherever they have settled. On the other end of the town is Miriam Njeri’s house.
She has only been living here for three weeks and says if there is paradise, then her new abode is it.
She has every reason to consider her new dwelling a haven. Njeri, 80, was living in a deplorable dwelling.
Although lonely, now she has a warm abode and two sheep to take care of. Outside her new mabati house is a pile of manure. Njeri tells us that this was removed from inside her house. From the size of the pile she literally lived in a dumpsite.
FOUGHT FOR SPACE
In her old abode, Njeri literally slept with the sheep. They would jump over her sleeping space as they fought for the little sleeping space available.