Rael Amuro, 46, started dreaming about pursuing a career in nursing after seeing how a kind-hearted and well-dressed nurse at Chemolingot Health Centre in East Pokot took care of her sick mother. Although she did not get the training to qualify her for the job, things worked in Amuro’s favor and she is now living her dream.
I am happy to serve members of my community, providing them with the best healthcare services, despite not having attained my dream of becoming a nurse.
Growing up in a pastoral community was not easy. We were exposed to various diseases like cholera because of poor sanitation because we kept moving from one place to another.
Lack of clean drinking water was a major challenge that faced locals because the only source was water pans and rivers that were highly contaminated, exposing us to typhoid, cholera, stomach ache and diarrhoea.
East Pokot being arid and semi-arid area, we were also forced to walk long distances in search of greener pasture and water for our livestock. We would contract malaria because of mosquito bites in the bushes.
One day, my mother got severe headache. She tried to use local herbs but the pain did not go away.
Luckily, the area chief was passing by our home and advised her to go to Chemolingot Health Centre, about 30 kilometers away. It took us at least three hours to arrive at the hospital — very exhausted.
At the facility, we met a jovial nurse in a white dress, blue pullover, black shoes and to complement her decent look, she wore a bright face.
The nurse was so polite and each single minute, she passed by where my mother was lying, giving her hope of getting better.
After two days, my mother was discharged. But the smile on face of the nurse remained etched on my memory. I wanted to become like her: Wear a well-ironed white dress and a smile on my face to give hope to patients.
I was 17-years-old and in Standard Seven. I shared my dream of wanting to be a nurse with my teachers who encouraged me and helped me improve in the subjects I was weak in.
I used to hear sad stories of sick people dying on their way to hospital and expectant mothers dying while giving birth because of lack of healthcare workers.
I sat for my Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) in 1994, but unfortunately, that was the end of my dream of putting a smile on the faces of the sick. I did not have money to enrol for secondary education and got married. Soon after, I got my first child. Delivering at home was not easy, but elderly women challenged me to prove my womanhood by giving birth at home.
In 2008 and 2009, more than 100 people from our area died after contracting cholera. My dream career crossed my mind again. Yes, I still wanted to lend a hand in saving lives, but I had no training.
In 2012, the National Government established Kamurio Dispensary. However, the operations were not smooth because of language barrier. Most locals are illiterate and could not express themselves to healthcare workers who didn’t understand the local language. Some opted for traditional medicine that did not contain diseases.
Ministry of Health raised an alarm that saw the formation of community health committee to help bring about smooth operation at the facility. Being among “most learned” people from the area, I was seconded to be an interpreter (translate Pokot language into either English or Swahili and vice-versa).
The other roles I play at the facility include teaching women on cleanness, home management of wounds, burns and ensuring children who require supplements receive them.
The other responsibilities are teaching locals on health issues, sensitizing the locals on various health programmes, vaccination programmes like polio and measles, keeping records of patients and recording health data for patients.
Through interacting with various healthcare professionals, I have undergone first aid training and whenever the doctor is not around, I provide first aid services.
Though hospital health committee said I would be paid Sh1,500 per month, I have not been receiving my dues for the past two years without any clear communication. But this has not killed my passion of helping members of my community live healthy. I report to work every day at 8am and leave at 4pm.
One of my highest moments so far is saving the life of an expectant woman who was due to deliver her first-born. The woman had been attended to by untrained midwives at the time she began experiencing labour pains. The women were forcefully removing the baby from her womb, causing her excessive bleeding.
She was rushed to the dispensary where on arrival, I contained excessive bleeding and single-handedly helped her give birth.
The facility handles at least 50 people daily.