“Let me eat kijeshi (like a soldier) because in this truck journey you don’t know your next meal…” That is what James told friends and his brother before he ordered his meal not knowing that it would actually be his last. He ate matumbo, three chapatis and a cup of tea. 20 minutes after they drove off they got an accident that would change his life completely in 2009.
It was about 9am at the renown black spot; Kaseve after Machakos county on your way to Kitui county. In front of them were an Isuzu Canter lorry and a Toyota permio overtaking. At the famous Kona nane (8 corners) he recalls headlights flashing, all vehicles could not change course and especially them since the truck was heavily loaded. To avoid the accident his brother opted to swerve and the truck carrying 700 bags of maize overturned sideways dragging on the roadside cliff 50 meters before it came to a halt.
“I sat on the co-driver side with window open and due to the commotion my arm was thrown out of the window. For the 50m the truck dragged, my left hand was in between the road and the truck, literally being crushed. Finally we came to a halt, thanks to the safety belt; I was just to worry about my hand.” James was stuck in the truck, the engine smoke increasing; the next concern was whether it would to go up in flames. The crowd started gathering and his brother who had made it out cracked the windscreen open.
My elbow & wrist were held by flesh and skin, excruciating pain, blood oozing out like a pressure pipe… I remembered I had a Nokia charger and asked some old man to tie it tightly around my armpit area to slow down the oozing blood.
He was then safely gotten out onto the road side. Oblivious of the pain he was going through, some onlookers got to his pockets and took his wallet and cellphone while he lay there. He recalls asking them to at least leave his identification card. He fainted and regained consciousness much later on a theatre operation table in Machakos level 4 Hospital.
I need painkillers or inject me to sleep
James shouted at the clinical officers.
He was transferred to AIC Kijabe hospital. While there, the pain worsened, his arm started rotting and the only option was to cut it off. He went back to the theatre on a Sunday and by Monday 1pm he had no arm. “I was grateful and now peaceful with no pain but to the reality that I was now disabled! This is how I’m now since 2009…”
He has since been affected as he could hustle, do hard hand jobs, but now he can’t perform fully. “Nilikuwa naenda hadi mjengo (I could work as a builder) and that’s how I paid for my DL but now I can’t drive or even be trusted to drive” he painfully quipped.
So why does he badly need a prosthetic arm, I asked?
He told so much but deep inside I could conclude was stigmatization by the community and the fact that he had had both arms.
Maji people judge me, they look at me with thoughts that I could have been a thief and my hand got cut by a mob, children are afraid of me, I would love to fit in my clothes normally, they don’t consider me or treat me as normal. I am stigmatized and at times I feel low and left out. A prosthetic arm would build my confidence and self-esteem
“If I get a prosthetic arm that can help me drive, I would get a job. I won’t be judged on arrival” he added.
He painfully added that the disabled in Kenya are not given jobs easily yet there are jobs like Customer care, counting deliveries, simple errands, sales jobs that they, especially he, could do but hard to come by as they are judged on arrival.
“Maji kwani siwezi kuhesabu 1, 2, 3, 4… gunia ngapi zime toka na kuingia? Store keeping, delivery yani job ndogo ndogo tunaweza!”
He has a wife & a daughter; Diana Muriuki & Princes Nyambura. He has managed to register a company to self-employ by looking for tenders. Prijada enterprises is named after him & family:
Pri – Princes; Ja – James and Da- Diana
Help us get James his Prosthetic Arm; which he says functional or not will transform his life
By Julius Owino – Majimaji