Faith Mwiraria was involved in a road accident that completely changed her life. In addition to needing total hip replacement, Faith had her heart broken by her husband of twelve years who left her because of her disability.
Faith spoke to the Nairobian about overcoming a difficult phase in her life.
Tell us how your troubles started…
I had an accident on December 11, 2015. I was driving between Nyeri-Mwiega Road near Dedan Kimathi University. I was hit by an oncoming matatu. It happened so fast. When I realised the matatu was going to hit me, I tried to do everything to avoid it – flashed, tried breaking, and swerved off the road but it happened.
I regained consciousness in hospital. I did not realise the impact of what happened. I later learnt that one of my legs was not moving. It was a very painful experience. I was taken to Nyeri Provincial Hospital then to Mathari Hospital.
Just how serious was the accident?
I was put on traction. My hip joint had disconnected. When I ran for the break, the dashboard had hit my knee and it removed my joint at the hip. My family decided to transfer me to Mount Kenya Hospital where the doctor recommended total hip replacement.
I was 35 and I felt I was too young to undergo such a major surgery. Unfortunately, after a few months, I could not walk without crutches. I could not do anything for myself. I had to find people to look after my children. My family life changed in a big way. My daughter was in Class One at the time and she had to be enrolled in a boarding school.
What happened afterward?
My leg became weaker and grew thinner. Doctors advised physiotherapy and a lot of nature walking. The physiotherapy was very expensive and painful. I did not have money for hip replacement, yet it was the only solution for me to walk again. The joint alone cost Sh400,000.
I had to look for friends and family to raise funds because I was in a lot of pain. I went through stigma in the community. People would stare at me and say words that hurt me. I lost friends because whenever people saw me calling, they thought I needed money for surgery.
How did you overcome all this rejection?
The hip replacement was finally done and within a year I did away with one crutch. Later, the doctor advised me to try walking without crutches. My walking style changed. People think I am proud because of the way I walk!
People imitated how I walked and they do not know how it made me feel, it frustrated me. Where I lived in Nyeri, people had known me as an active person but treated me differently when I got disabled. I decided to relocate to Mikinduri in Meru. I did not know Mikinduri. I just came blindly! God healed me in this town.
How did this situation affect your family life?
I had been married for 12 years. Before the accident, my marriage had problems marked by physical and emotional abuse. My husband was abusive and even at one point, he broke my jaw. He would slap me in front of his friends.
But it got worse after the accident when he deserted me. He woke up one day and told me he was tired of living with a disabled wife. He told me that his friends were laughing at him and wondering how he managed to live with a cripple. This broke my heart and I could not take it anymore. I told my father and he understood my situation.
How did you pick up the pieces?
My parents helped me a lot. I have special regard for them because they stood with me. I have a few friends who stood by me. I drew a lot of strength from my children who were little then. My son was one of the best in KCPE exams and is now at Mang’u High School. My children have promised to make me proud by doing well in school and I trust them to keep their word. Though I cannot do much work because of the weakness, I work hard for my children and my parents also help me. The Meru High Court granted me a divorce on January 29.
You were a businesswoman before misfortune befell you, what are you up to now?
I had an M-Pesa business in Nyeri and together with my husband, we were in the hospitality industry. But after the accident and all the abuse, I had to move out to find a new life. The insurance company compensated me and I bought a parcel of land in Mikinduri. My father took charge and built a house for me, may God bless him. I thank Dr Muiembe who did my hip replacement surgery.
What are your future plans?
God kept me alive to take care of my children. I would love to champion the rights of people living with disabilities and to help them to cope. I thank the government because I do not pay license fees for my cyber café business at Mikinduri.
Are you okay now?
I manage to live by the grace of God as I take care of my children and run the cyber café. I miss doing motherly duties, such as carrying water when the taps run dry! I also cannot shake a leg anymore but above all, I am grateful to be alive.