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Girl lived for 34 years with cerebral palsy, euologised as pillar of family

“ I threw away a packet of cigarretes I had just bought when the physician who was attending to my baby girl told me she had a chest infection. The infection was causing her breathing problems which was being exacerbated by my habitual smoking which I had adopted as a way of life,” Michael Mwangi remarked.

It was during an evening service at his home in Thome Estate, Nairobi, last week as Mwangi narated how he stopped smoking and has never admired smokers todate.

The service was in readiness to laying to rest of his only daughter who died peacefully in her sleep on November 24,2019. She had battled with Cerebral Palsy for 36 years and she finally went to be with the lord on this fateful day.

Esther Nyambura Mwangi (36), was born in Nairobi, a healthy bouncing baby girl on the 7th May 1981.From the time she was born, she was a health baby to about two years.

Being the youngest of the three siblings,she received the attention of the family, mainly from her brothers who exposed her to a boys way of life. William Mbugua Mwangi, the eldest and Peter Kariuki Mwangi his follower would play with Esther vigorously.

The duo would pull her up and down and she grew up a hardened player who would pounce on her brothers and retrieve her toys.

Esther was quick in her development and she walked, spoke and communicated well before the age of two years.

Mwangi says, “ Esther changed our lives for good. After a bout of pneumonia which struck her at age two, we became more appreciative of life and health and realized how life can change and how we plan it.”

“Following the pneumonia attack, she was admitted to hospital. A chain of events including lack of oxygen resulted in the cerebral palsy condition,” he recalls

After a horrendous health ordeal, the family of Esther lived in fear that hospital life would be part of their occupation as disease had come too soon.

This was the contrary, as the 3rd born and only girl was never hospitalized thereafter for 30 years, thanks be to the Lord, they had ample time to give her the best care from home.

Prayers and good care cushioned her from health conditions that would have compelled her to be hospitalized,” says Mwangi.

Hell broke loose on the day she was admitted in hospital and required to be put on oxygen.

“She was consequently moved to the ICU and thereafter, medics told us to be prepared for the worst,”says Mwangi during her service yesterday.

That was not to be as she pulled through and she was treated and left hospital albeit with the Celebral Palsy condition ( CP) that is is caused by brain damage which could be as a result of brain injury or abnormal development of the brain that occurs before, during or immediately after birth.

In her case, it resulted from the delay of being put on Oxygen as doctors wrestled to stabilize her when she suffered from pneumonia.

After the first battle ,Esther, fondly known as Mummie, was still able to persevere though with some difficulty which generally changed the entire family.

Worried about leaving her in the care of a nanny, Esther’s mother, Maria Sara Simons from Netherlands, quit her nursing job.

She endevoured to give her daughter constant care and frequent monitoring just to ensure that she was comfortable.

“We learnt to communicate with her and appreciate her special needs as she was not the same strong looking girl who had left home some weeks earlier,” Mwangi says.

“ It was different from what we were used to, but in the end we all understood her language. She became our beacon of hope and a treasure of life rather than a burden,” Mwangi recalls.

Mwangi says “Esther has taught us a valuable lesson in life which is to persevere and stay strong regardless of any challenge,”.

While eulogizing Esther during her funeral service at the Holy Family Basilica Catholic Church, the Chairperson of the Celebral Palsy Society of Kenya (CPSK), Dorothy Wanjiru Mwangi, said Mr. Mwangi had become one of the founder members of the society and many other parents and guardians had found refuge in it.

It was as a result of Baby Esther’s condition that Mwangi and Dorothy together with other well wishers, some who had children with the condition conceived the idea of starting a society that could assist the affected children and their parents learn and accept the children and their condition.

“By accepting the children, then the family is able to forge ahead, embrace the child and learn how to cope with the ccondition,”says Dorothy.

Dorothy who has known Esther for 25 years, says the girl responded to someone talking to her with a smile.This is testimony from the photographs on her funeral program.

She added that Esther’s father had one time shown her his cars and the way he had modified the seats so that it could accomodate his daughter whenever they traveled.

This she said was testimony of the love of a parent who was caring about the comfort of the child who was now living with special needs.

Other parents with such children should borrow a leaf from what Mwangi did to make his daughter yearn to be chauffeured in the family car.

The total number of founders of the CPSK is 11, however, some have migrated to the UK and Canada where they have settled living seven in the country.

CPSK is a charitable organization committed to the improvement of the plight of children and persons afflicted by Celebral Palsy (CP). The society has a membership of over 500 and attends to over 350 children and persons with CP.

The Society envisions an informed and empowered society that is conscious of improved rehabilitation, healthcare and inclusive services for children and persons afflicted by cerebral palsy.

Its mission is to offer the best support service through the provision of therapy, promotion of awareness and advocacy of appropriate measures to improve the welfare of persons afflicted by cerebral palsy in Kenya.

Its objectives includes creation and enhancement of awareness, rehabilitation, assist in acquiring assistive devices, livelihoods and economic empowerment, advocacy and resource mobilization.

Dorothy told the congregation during yesterday’s burial, that last year alone, the Society lost 10 children with Celebral Palsy who succumbed to health complications.

“These children are very susceptible to cold and must be kept warm by their handlers,”she advises.

She revealed to the congregation that the society has three important functions annualy. March, which is celebrated as the Celebral Month worldwide, 5th October, as the Celebral Palsy Day and the last Saturday of June is the Celebral Palsy Walk Day.

These are memorable days for families of children living with the condition in which other members of the society join them in celebrating the days.

Currently, the society is located in Donholm,Nairobi County in a premises where a donor has paid their rent for the past five years.

Dorothy is therefore appealing to any wellwisher to come to their aid and possibly assist them in acquiring land where they could construct the Society’s own facility.

“This way, we will be more helpful to the children and family members who can access it even over the weekend. For now, it is open from Monday to Friday only as from 8.00a.m to 5.00 p.m,” she states.

By Lydia Shiloya

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