The Standard, 17 October 2012: Faces of desperation everywhere. Malnourished children and women carry water jerricans as they trek for long to look for water.
This is the daily life of these residents of Orolwo sub-location in Pokot North District, West Pokot County. Orolwo’s population of 4,046 struggles like many others in arid regions. They are born into hardships; and that is the life they know. They transverse cattle rustling prone areas in search of water. A few are lucky and have bought themselves bicycles to ease this time-consuming but unavoidable trip.
Although this is tough, the Orolwo residents are worried about something else: Their lineage might be cut before the end of time.
Die as they give life
This is because their women are scared of getting pregnant. Psychologically, the women have been affected by watching fellow women die as they give life. And yet this is something that can easily be solved by having a functional health facility within the area. Surprisingly, there is none to provide medical care during pregnancy.
Hellen Nagerech and other women in the village told The Standard how they have helplessly watched pregnant mothers suffer until they die because of complications beyond them.
If only the women were attending antenatal clinics, then the story could be different. But health facilities are not available to these residents, explain the women, some of whom have nearly died due to similar complications in pregnancy.
“I have lost two pregnancies. Our life is so difficult that it is only through the grace of God that we carry pregnancies to term. Many women fear conceiving as there are no health facilities at the village to help them through pregnancy,” says Nagerech, a mother of five.
Her last miscarriage occurred as she was being taken to Kapenguria District Hospital after complications.
“It’s by sheer luck that I am alive but I lost my child. As taxpayers, we are calling on the Government to save the Orolwo residents from this agony. We too deserve health facilities within our reach. We shouldn’t be trekking to Kacheliba or Kapenguria, which are far away, to deliver our babies.”
Paul Lokitary, 22, the only university student from the community studying at Moi University, is concerned about the deaths of expectant mothers.
“Our situation is deplorable. Government must provide our community with water and a health centre to avert deaths of our mothers as well as their babies,” says Lokitary, a business information student.
In his small way, Lokitary is contributing to a bright future for the community. He helps students do their homework during vacation and encourage those who have dropped out resume their studies. He wants them to provide the human resource needed in health facilities and save mothers from the jaws of death in future.
Alarmed by the deaths of expectant mothers and shrinking births in the area, the community has set aside four acres of land where they would like a health facility to be constructed to help avert future deaths — and encourage women to conceive.
Already the community leaders have approached the Trans Nzoia County Muslim Association and the association, which has been actively sinking boreholes around the country, is likely to take up the challenge.
They are also planning to sink a borehole in the village to provide the residents with clean water. Currently, they use the muddy and unsafe water of Saum River, which flows from Uganda. The water is dangerous for expectant women and their unborn babies.
Association chairman Mohamed Hasham says they require more than Sh2.5 million to sink a borehole and install an electric pump as many of the beneficiaries are too old to use the hand pump.
It is the Orolwa people’s prayer that with a health facility within reach and water points not so far away, they will soon start hearing more babies crying in their midst, and the hope of continuity revived.