Meet Kindhearted Tharaka lady rescuing aged from the brink of death

When Ms. Monica Mukami, was growing up at Mukothima, Kiamauti village in Tharaka south sub-county, she had little on her mind besides her parents and love for her grandparents. But her blissful childhood would change forever after a misfortunate accident that befell her grandpa.

Recalling the sad fateful day, Ms. Mukami narrates how she watched her grandfather trip and fall with a thud breaking his backbone while trying to ascend his granary where he slept.

Mukami says the tragic accident caused the death of her beloved grandpa leaving her with regrets about why she was not capable of helping him climb up the granary. She was in class two when the sad incident happened.

“He fell on his back on the fence while trying to climb to his granary. I was very young to help him ascend. This accident took his life and left me with a wounded heart,” Mukami says.

Ms. Mukami says the disastrous accident gave her the urge to help the isolated and vulnerable older Persons. Today Mukami is the director of St. Theresa Haven for the Aged, an organization taking care of the isolated and neglected older people.

According to Mukami, her grandpa’s case is one of the many hundreds of cases that happen to vulnerable elderly people today living out their days with little or no help from their family members.

Mukami says the vagaries of drought, illness, and isolation are the major challenges facing the aged in the Tharaka community.

“Family feuds, drought, sickness, and childlessness are some of the reasons the families of these elderly men and women cut them loose. Some are homeless and ill, not knowing who they are, their home, or their relatives. Most young people do not have time for their aging parents,” the St. Theresa director adds.

According to her, some young people believe that their aging parents have outlived their time while others stay away from their parents hence they are left with no one to take care of them.

Mukami argues that despite being lonely or socially isolated elderly people are the linchpin of their communities.

When the County Focus paid a courtesy call to St Theresa Haven for the Aged, Ms Mukami, and her team had already walked out for their daily routine of searching for the neglected older people. This is the daily routine for Ms Mukami and her team who walk out every day as the dawn breaks heading to the villages of Tharaka Community to find and rescue the Isolated or neglected elderly people.

When we later catch a glimpse of Mukami and her team at Marimanti she informs us that she is rushing to a scene to rescue an aged person needing urgent care. She notifies us that the dreadful case was brought to her attention by the area chief.

She enlightens us that her decision to start St Theresa Haven for the Aged in 2019 was due to her ambition to help the aged and the recurrent dreams she had of an aged woman begging her for assistance.

“I started having strange dreams where an old lady would stretch her hand and beg me to rescue her but whenever I tried she would fall down and lose her life. This dream kept recurring for various days which made me think of starting this organization. I felt the aged lady was speaking to me via the dream to do so,” Mukami says.

Despite starting the organization Mukami says the large number of elderly people needing assistance is a challenge.

“When I started this organization in 2019 I had the capital to take care of the aged, however, due to the large number of elderly people needing care and the harsh economic situation I used all I had including the emergency funds that we had saved,” Mukami adds.

Mukami tells County Focus that his team is always forced to visit the elderly at their homes where they donate food and other medical supplies since it’s cheaper than inviting them to the organization.

“Inviting them to the organization is expensive since we will have to reimburse their transport. We also prefer going to their homestead to meet and speak with their families,” she says

The organization, however, lacks facilities to house the aged but Mukami informs us that they are planning to build a modern facility that will include a medical center.

“We look forward to building a modern facility that will enable us to house these elderly people since some of them lack even better shelter, hence forcing us to find somewhere to shelter them while we are tasked to visit others on a daily basis since they lack people to take care of them,” Mukami adds.

Ms Mukami says the main aim of St Theresa Haven for the Aged is to feed, clothe, treat the ill, and rescue and shelter the aged.

“We take the responsibility to help the aged people and educate their family members on the need to take care of them,” Mukami adds.

Mukami however calls on more partners to chip in and help the organization take care of the surging cases of neglected aged people.

Mr. Ignatius Nkonge, St Theresa Haven for the Aged Chairperson informs us that the majority of the elderly people that the organization takes care of lack food, clothes, and shelter.

Nkonge who is a retired head teacher, says they are often forced to chip in funds from their pockets to purchase various commodities for the aged.

The Chairperson, however, notifies us that due to the surging number of cases of neglected aged people, the organization is calling on well-wishers to help them build a facility to house them.

The Kenyan Constitution identifies anyone aged 60 years and above as an old member of society, and according to the Kenya Population and Housing Census 2019, this population is growing rapidly.

The statistics indicate that the aging population grew from Sh1.9 million in 2019 to 2.7 million in 2019.

The county with the least elderly people is Nairobi at two percent, and Mombasa, Garissa, and Wajir at three percent. Mandera and Makueni are at nine percent, while Tharaka Nithi and Vihiga are at 10 percent. 

The majority of these aged people are left to suffer while others are oppressed by their family members over land wrangles among other issues. Abuse endured by older people includes physical, financial, psychological, verbal, and sexual abuse, as well as neglect.

According to Mukami, the government should seek regulation to protect the elderly. Mukami says the current Bill of Rights enshrined in the Kenyan constitution does not specifically address the rights of older persons and there’s no specific legislation to address their needs.

“I call on well-wishers to help us save the dying elderly people. They can channel their contribution and ideas via my contact 0114721023 or our chairman’s contact 0720400249. Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring. All of which have the potential to turn a life around,” Mukami adds as they drive off for their rescue mission.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button