Tuesday, January 4, 2022, is a day Said Shuweib from Pandanguo in Lamu County will never forget.
What started as a normal day ended up being one of the most traumatising moments in the life of the seven-year-old boy.
That afternoon, as is the norm for members of the Awer community, popularly known as Boni, Shuweib was trying to find something to eat as drought continues to hit Lamu county.
A few metres from their home, he spotted a cashew nut tree and climbed to pluck the nuts.
Unfortunately, he lost his grip, slipped, and fell on his back. Feeling the sharp pain, Shuweib lay on the ground for more than half an hour, unconscious.
His father Shahib Godana found him but did not know what had happened.
“I found him lying on his back, immobile and unable to speak,” said the father of five.
“I requested for an emergency service and we rushed to him to King Fahad Level Five Hospital in Lamu.”
He was wheeled into the emergency room, where after an extensive examination, the doctors established his spine had been injured, partially paralysing his limbs.
The hospital did not have the capacity to treat him and he was referred to Coast General Hospital in Mombasa.
Since Mombasa health workers were on strike at the time, the family had to transfer him to Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi the following day.
“We were distraught as a family when our son could not get critical medical attention,” Godana said.
For more than a month, Shuweib has been admitted at the KNH Orthopaedic wing, the medical bill accruing. Godana, a peasant farmer, could not foot the bill.
Community well-wishers managed to raise Sh23,000 towards clearing the bill.
“We do not have a medical cover so we relied on the community for help,” Godana told The Standard.
For the minority Awer community - the majority of whom do not have birth certificates - health insurance is a foreign concept.
A close friend created a WhatsApp group to help raise funds and added Lamu Woman Representative Ruweida Mohamed, who shared the story with Kanu chairman Gideon Moi.
The Baringo Senator visited Shuweib at KNH yesterday, offering to clear his medical bill.
He wished him a quick recovery and assured the father of his support.
He added: “I am inspired by Shuweib’s bravery even in the face of pain. He can afford a smile and he has even offered us a prayer.”
The attendant doctor expressed confidence that he will soon be discharged since he was responding well to treatment.
“I have no doubt that we will soon discharge him.”