For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds”- Jeremiah 30:17.
I looked at the photos once more and smiled. The contrast was as deep and as different as day and night. In one, he lies helpless in bed, his sunken eyes buried deep inside the sockets. His cheekbones jutting through his dark skin, his emaciated body a pitiful sight. In the second one, he sits slightly upright, a warm smile running across his smooth and oiled face…a symbol of hope and rejuvenation.
The recovery journey has been amazing. After moving him from his Busia home to Nairobi, the doctors had embarked on the task of boosting his health, reawakening his weak heart and other body organs, and reworking his limbs and joints to enable him to walk again. I look forward to the day we will walk with him once more to Burma market to enjoy a delicious meal of fish and brown ugali as we celebrate his complete healing.
I said a prayer for my friend and colleague Dominic Odipo who has been ailing for years. The veteran journalist twice suffered stroke, in December 2013 and in April 2019. He was confined to his bed, paralysed and unable to fend for himself.
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However, for the last five months, he was hospitalised after friends and colleagues raised funds for his treatment. His health improved dramatically. Now doctors say that although he has made tremendous improvement, he still has miles to go before his full recovery.
In his heydays, Odipo fought for us and dreamt of a better Kenya. As a business editor at The Standard, he raised serious accountability concerns in the management of our resources. As the longest-serving political columnist at The Standard, he joined forces both via his column and even physically to campaign for democracy and political sanity.
Despite the hard times that most of us are going through, we can still scratch deeper into our pockets to raise the Sh2 million needed to ensure the new smile on Odipo’s face turns into laughter.
Dominic needs us, the same way he stood up for us when we, in one way or another, needed a second chance.
As I peeped at the photo of his hopeful smile, I recalled the second chance that God gave my own mother, Ruth Nyangasi Okalo. Mama had been taken to a health facility in Nakuru where my sister Becky worked. She had a malignant growth in her intestines and doctors had advised that an operation be conducted to remove it. After hours of sweaty and tense work, they declared Mama dead.
However, my sister, for some strange reason, refused to believe or accept the fact that Mama was dead. She fought off her colleagues, stopping them from taking Mama’s body to the morgue. The hospital management allowed her some moments with Mama.
Sing and pray
Becky, with a Bible in one hand, started to sing and pray. She prayed and cried. She prayed and mourned. She prayed and wailed. She prayed and sang: “Mama is not dead. She shall live and not die. Mama has defeated death in the name of Jesus”, she went on and on. After several hours, two bulky security guards accompanied by morgue attendants moved in to take away the body. They had had enough of the drama.
A struggle ensued. Even their combined muscle power could not overwhelm this tiny, slim and determined woman trying to wake up her mother from the dead. Just when they finally seized her, ready to carry her out, Mama coughed. Mama sneezed. Mama asked for water to drink. Mama was actually alive.
One of the security guards fled instantly. The rest froze in terror. My sister started singing and rejoicing, kissing and hugging Mama. Mama was eventually ferried, not to the morgue, but to the general ward. Mama, who had cancer of the colon, lived another five years.
I know God will give Odipo another chance to walk and fend for himself. I believe that he will give our friend Odipo many more years here on earth if we can stand by him and help raise an extra two million shillings that is required for him to complete his treatment at a Nairobi hospital. Let us all sacrifice whatever little we can and with the power of numbers, raise enough to give Odipo back his health and ability to cater and fend for himself.
To assist Odipo send your contribution to: Medical Fund for Dominic Martin Odipo M-Pesa Paybill 7202707 Account: 127-208-0730.
You can also contact Odipo’s family through his brother, Francis Odipo 0722212534 or sister, Mary Mulaku 0722351907.
Mr Atemi is a veteran journalist