Pamela Kageya absent-mindedly called out Vanesa Andeso’s name to get her the family album forgetting the daughter was among pupils who died in a stampede at Kakamega Primary School Monday evening.
She could be forgiven for calling the name because the daughter was too close to her.
“She was barely a month old at the school but Vanesa had promised to score over 457 marks so that she could appear on television rejoicing. Little did we know we would appear on TV because of her death,” Pamela told The Standard amid sobs.
The mother of three recalled the good moments with the daughter.
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“She even promised to build us a big house in future and many a times she would console me whenever I looked sad.”
Venesa, 9, always urged the mother to be cheerful “because she believed my ulcers could attack me whenever I looked sad.”
On the fateful day, Pamela had been waiting for her daughter together with her sister to show up at a saloon opposite Kakamega County Government headquarters.
“I had a strange feeling when I saw ambulances speeding towards the county referral hospital. Little did I know my daughter was long dead,” she said.
Venesa’s friend, a pupil at the school broke the sad news to her.
“She came crying and told me Vanesa had been rushed to hospital and that she wanted me to go and see her urgently.”
Pamela found Venesa and six other pupils lying on the floor of the hospital at the causality ward unattended.
“I cuddled my daughter, called her name out and inspected her body but she was not responding,” said Pamela.
Even after the bodies were taken to the mortuary, Pamela could not believe the daughter was dead.
Today she returned to the morgue to find Venesa’s body stiff.
“Initially, there was no single mark on her body but in the morning I saw a cut on the neck,” she said.
Dan Mbaja recalled escorting his daughters to school on Monday morning on foot.
“We trekked from Maraba all the way to the school gate about 2.5 kilometres away. Along the way, we discussed many issues related to their school work.”
“I didn’t know after bidding Venesa [good] bye on Monday. It would be the last time I would see her a live,” said Mbaja.
He wondered why the school had failed to guarantee the pupils safety.
“We entrust them with our children,” he said. Mbaja said he was yet to come to terms with the death of his daughter.
Hospital bills and burial expenses
Meanwhile, Deputy President William Ruto announced that the government will foot hospital bills and burial expenses for the families that lost their children as well as those still in hospital following the tragic stampede.
Ruto said the state will organise for the burial of the deceased pupils with the help of the County Government of Kakamega.
“We shall provide finances that will take care of the hospital bills and burial expenses to the affected families. A committee has been put in place consisting of both national and county government officials to plan for their decent sendoff next week,” said Ruto.
He said President Uhuru Kenyatta sent him to bring the government condolences to the bereaved family and the locals.
According to Ruto, the incident took place at 4.40pm involving class four and five pupils who are housed at the first and second floor of the three storey building.
“Preliminary investigations have found out that 14 pupils died, 46 were injured, 37 pupils were treated and discharged, two learners are still at the intensive Care Unit (ICU), 3 are in surgical wards and three others have been admitted at the general wards,” said DP Ruto.
[John Shilitsa, Nathan Ochunge and Florence Akinyi]