Kakamega family heartbroken after mysterious illness leaves two sons blind
A family in Kakamega are grappling with shock after two of their sons suddenly went blind. Attempts to seek medical help in nearby facilities have not yielded much. The family believes jealous neighbours and friends may have turned to black magic and witchcraft to haunt their home.
Even after making several trips to local medicine men and men of God, they have not experienced good results. However, the Muchesa family is not giving up hope and believes someone will help them restore the sight of Joakin Muchesa.
It all started in August last year, when Joakin, then aged 30, left his rental apartment in Kericho heading for his father’s home in Shagungu village, Shinyalu Constituency in Kakamega county. Joakin was in perfect health and was beaming with joy at the prospects of seeing his family having been away for close to a year.
Like any other youth, who had completed his basic education, Joakin had left his home for greener pastures in Kericho county where he had secured a job of working as an information technology expert in a private firm.
Before setting on his journey, he left his young wife Vickilance Khaoya, 21, heavily pregnant with his son.
His initial attempts to secure off days at his work place in order to see the bundle of joy the wife had birthed failed as he was told to wait a little longer. When he was finally granted time off, the soft-spoken Joakin could not hide his joy. He was finally going to see his newborn son.
On the phone, his wife and mom would occasionally tell him of the uncanny resemblance between him and the son.
As he boarded a matatu from Kericho to Kisumu, a tinge of restlessness grew in him, when something strange happened.
“I was scrolling my phone in order to call my dad with the intention of informing him that I had left Kericho, when I experienced some strange feeling on my left eye, a sharp pain appeared from nowhere, images became blurry and I could not see clearly. Suddenly, there was pain in my eyes. All I could see were white stars. When I told the person who sat next to me, they were all perplexed. Everything happened so fast,” said Joakin.
The pain persisted, and became unbearable. Then, as suddenly as it started, the fog dissolved into white stars on his right eye too.
When he arrived in Kisumu, he was helped into a vehicle that was heading to Kakamega. Upon his arrival at home, he tried to tell everyone what befell him and that he could not see but none believed it. His wife noticed that he could not spot the presence of his young son. She broke down. The family got concerned and their reunion, which was meant to be a moment of joy and celebration, suddenly turned to grief.
“My (family) struggled to understand how one could go blind so suddenly and so mysteriously. It was not normal. I had no signs of sickness and had no issues with anyone, fate had decided to turn its back on me. I asked myself many questions, why the disease came at the very time I was to share a moment of celebration with my son,” said Joakin.
His mother, Agnes Khatiala, took him to Sabatia Eye Hospital in neighbouring Vihiga county for diagnosis. An assessment revealed Muchesa was permanently blind. They were stunned.
“I never thought the condition could be permanent. When I went for the diagnosis my prayer was that a solution would be found, there was no way I could go blind,” he said.
A diagnostic report conducted by Dr Regina Ondigo at the health facility revealed Muchesa was suffering from optic atrophy, which has irreversible damage to the retinal ganglion cells and axons, which caused the loss of vision. The disease is usually caused by inflammation, ischaemia, nutritional deficiencies, trauma and hereditary conditions.
“The doctor said my son would never see again and there was nothing they could do to help. It was painful since he was the light of this family, we banked our hopes on him until bad luck showed up,” says Khatiala, amid sobs.
Months before the mother of nine could recover from the shock of her first born son’s sudden blindness, the misfortunes surrounding her family compounded when her fourth born son Kevin Muchesia began experiencing similar condition becoming half blind.
To Khatiala, bad luck had decided to pitch a tent in her homestead. What pained her most was she could not unravel the mystery surrounding the calamity.
“Kevin is in form four but is partially blind. Three weeks ago, he began complaining of serious pain in his eyes, he was struggling to read his books, though his condition can be treated. My fears are that soon he may turn permanently blind,” recounts the woman in a small faltering voice.
Though Kevin has not been taken for diagnosis, as the family faces financial constraints, he has been forced to swallow painkillers to suppress the stinging pain in his eyes.
“What amazes me is I began having this condition after my mom had visited some spiritual leader, who had informed her I was going to partially lose my vision in few weeks’ time. It happened as she had been told,” recounts Kevin.
Despite all the happenings, Khatiala remains optimistic she can find treatment if not in Kenya, then across the border in Uganda.
“Since there was no money for specialised treatment, we are hoping our bitter waters will turn sweet by a miracle. My only concern is my daughter-in-law, she was barely into her second year in her marriage when the misfortune struck. She is going through a lot at the tender age of 21 when every young woman wants to enjoy her marriage. I wouldn’t blame her if she left,” said the mother.
The situation took a toll on Ignatius Muchesa, the father of the two, who is now seeking solutions in the spiritual world.
But not even the spiritual world has been able to overturn his son’s conditions.
“A friend told me my misfortunes were not normal and that they were spiritual. I fasted for three days at a local hill hoping to get a breakthrough, but nothing changed. I have walked almost in all places of worship trying to seek help,” says the father.
Early this week, the father despaired and went out to another spiritual leader who asked him to conduct some rites.
“The man of God told me to carry some water sample my sons used to bath, take to him, then he (spiritual leader) will conduct some prayers and in less than a month my sons’ vision will be restored,” recounted the father.
Joakin terms the diagnosis the lowest moment in his life and a blow to his dream of elevating the status of his family.
He has since turned to writing books and poems, at least to keep him from depression. His only wish for God to grant him a chance of setting his eyes on his little bundle of joy.
“Such is life, it’s been hard but sometimes these things we have no control over. My only prayer is I get someone who can enroll me in a braille school. My sight is lost but my brain is still intact. This is why through the help of friends I have written a Swahili book Utazoleka,” said Joakin.