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Who dumped a sick girl in bush to die?

By | October 25th 2010

By Renson Mnyamwezi

For months, The Standard Group drivers delivering newspapers to the Coast Province reported sighting someone lying by the roadside at Miasenyi, near Voi, along the busy Mombasa highway.

The person’s head was always covered in a bright-coloured khanga, come rain or shine.

“We decided to find out from the local people at the nearby Maungu trading centre whether the person had been abandoned in an area where dangerous wild animals roam freely,” said driver Samuel Barmasai.

Mwanahamisi at Voi District Hospital. Medics says no relative has visited the girl in her one month of hospitalisation. She has also lost use of her legs. Photos: Renson Mnyamwezi/Standard

The driver and his colleague Naftali Mithamo, were shocked when they were told that the form in the wild was a jinni (evil spirit).

Unconvinced, The Standard crew proceeded to Mombasa and bough food that they delivered to the person on the way back.

“I was shocked to see it was a young girl aged between 14 and 16 years. She ate all the food we gave her,” Barmasai explained.

The driver and his colleague promised the girl they would return the following day, which they did, since that is the route they ply daily as they deliver newspapers.

But they went beyond offering more food; they notified local Assistant Chief Mohammed Mwambingu Ilambo and Acting Chief, Drucillah Ngele, about the girl’s predicament.

The chief approached the Children Office where they were given a vehicle, and mobilised World Vision and Children’s Department officials, who rescued the weak and frail destitute girl and took her to Voi District Hospital.

The girl identified herself as Fatuma Mwanahamisi from Likoni area of Mombasa, and claimed she was dumped at Miasenyi by her parents a year ago when she got sick.

Social workers say the girl is timid and nervous and seems to have a phobia for men, raising suspicion she could have been sexually abused during her long stay by the roadside.

“Her behaviour is symptomatic of a person who has been sexually molested,” said Alice Gichuki,” a social worker at the Voi District Hospital, adding the girl is unable to walk or stand, so she squats all the time.

Mwanahamisi’s relatives are yet to be traced, and a Nairobi rescue centre, Star Disability Centre, has volunteered to accommodate her.

Ngele said Mwanahamisi had been living on donations from motorists plying the highway. “The girl has been living by the roadside for a long time and we do not know who dumped her there. How she has been surviving, only God knows,” Ngele told The Standard.

Miasenyi is one of the epicentres of persistent human wildlife conflict in the region since it’s situated near the Tsavo East National Park.

“It’s a miracle the girl was never attacked by wild animals that roam the area,” Ms Ngele added.

Matatu driver Collins Madenge, who plies the Voi-Mombasa route, said the girl had suffered for long, and thanked The Standard crew for initiating her rescue.

“I used to donate food to the girl every day as her plight touched me,” Madenge said.

When The Standard visited Voi District Hospital recently, we established that the girl was making slow but steady progress, but is still frail and had to be bathed by hospital staff.

“Since she was brought to the hospital a month ago, no relative of hers has come to see how she is fairing,” said Susan Wakesho, who was attending to Mwanahamisi at the hospital.

Wakesho said Mwanahamisi said her mother lives in Likoni. “Sometimes she speaks in Kidigo, but most of the time she remains mum,” she said.

Voi County Children’s Officer Leonard Nyangena said his office had confirmed that the girl was abandoned by her parents and that efforts were being made to take her to a rehabilitation centre.

“The girl has speech problems. We are working with our Mombasa counterparts to trace and arrest her parents for child neglect,” Nyangena told us.

“The fundamental rights of children must be protected at all costs and anyone violating them will face the full force of the law,” Nyangena warned.

Chief Ngele appealed to well-wishers to assist Mwanahamisi with clothes and food once she leaves the Voi District Hospital, which has promised to waive her medical bills.

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