Patients get free healing in the home of village therapist

Lilian Lekikeny attends to bone fracture patients at her home in Loitip, Mukutani ward in Baringo South on November 9 [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]
Jane Ikaru from Lomelo in Turkana East survived an accident that killed 18 people along the Marigat-Loruk Road in December last year.

She was among residents of Kapedo and Lomelo villages who were going back home on an Administration Police lorry after shopping at a market in Marigat.

The lorry overturned and when the dust had settled, 12 women and six children lay dead. Several other people were injured.

Ms Ikaru broke her leg. She was taken to Kabarnet County Hospital and was later transferred to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital for specialised treatment. She stayed at the hospital for nine months.

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However, her condition worsened. Ikaru said she could not use the injured leg and had to make do with crutches.

Doctors wanted to operate and fix the broken bone with a metal plate, but Ikaru could not afford the treatment.

And due to financial constraints, Ikaru said she had to ask the hospital to discharge her before she healed.

She went to live with relatives at Kampi Samaki in Marigat, Baringo County.

"I decided to leave the hospital because I was not getting better. I could not raise the money the doctors wanted," said Ikaru.

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She left the hospital last month dejected and without any hope of using her leg again.

"I was desperate. However, my relatives asked me to visit a woman they had heard helped people with the kind of problem I had," said Ikaru.

In the company of some relatives, Ikaru embarked on a day-long journey to the home of Lilian Lekikeny, a village healer.

They used a motorcycle as there is no other mode of transport in the remote area. They had to move slowly to avoid hurting her leg.

Ms Lekikeny received them and offered them a meal. 

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After they had eaten, she took the bandage off Ikaru's leg and washed the wound with warm water. She then started massaging the leg.

Lekikeny used two sticks to support the leg. The injured part was first bandaged before the sticks were tied to the leg with a piece of cloth. Ikaru said it was not easy.

On the second day, Ikaru was asked to stop using her crutches and was instead given two walking sticks. Lekikeny encouraged her to slowly start using the injured leg as she continued massaging it.

Ikaru said she now felt much better. 

Lekikeny, the mother of four children aged between four and 16 years, said she did not use any medicine on her patients, not even herbs.

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She cleans the wound, massages it using cooking fat before bandaging it. Then she supports the broken limb with sticks. The patient is encouraged to slowly practise using the injured limb.

Lekikeny said she has been doing this since 2003. She learnt the art from her father.

"My father did this job for many years. In 2003, I also started helping people with joint dislocations.”

She added: "I use my hand to feel the limb to know how serious the problem is. This way, I am also able to identify where the problem is."

Her art has given hope to many victims of fractures who cannot get access to medical treatment either because they have no money or due to the long distances.  The nearest health centre is over 30 kilometres away.

Lack of transport has further complicated matters for those seeking health services. Boda boda operators charge up to Sh250, an amount many residents cannot afford.

Lilian Lekikeny uses sticks to support a patient’s broken leg. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]
Lekikeny is currently taking care of several fracture patients. Three live in two grass-thatched houses just metres from her house, while the rest are outpatients. 

She does not charge her patients, although she offers accommodation and meals.  

"I don't charge my patients. However, there are those who choose to give me something as a sign of appreciation," said Lekikeny.

She claimed that she had assisted more than 1,000 people, including a police officer from Isiolo whom she nursed in her home for three months.

Many patients

And she encounters many challenges in her work. She said times she was overwhelmed by the number of patients. Feeding the patients and her family is also a major challenge.

She said her husband, Renson Lekikeny, had asked her to stop the therapy and focus on raising their children but she declined.

"Taking care of the patients is a major challenge. Yet we have no option when they come to us for help," he said. 

The two have been married since 1991.

Christopher Lenongonop, visiting his 70-year-old mother, who is nursing a hip injury at the home, said Lekikeny had given the elderly woman hope.

"My mother was in hospital for 60 days after she fell. The doctors wanted to fit a metal plate, but she did not like the idea. That is when I brought here here. She is now walking,” said Mr Lenongonop.

Lilian LekikenyBaringo CountyUniversal Health Coverage