Wednesday, October 27, 2010



She is our modern day Good Samaritan in our unsafe neighborhoods

By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

October 26, 2010

Her relatives call her Mother Teresa. She has earned this nickname due to her perpetual passion for empathy with the suffering and strangers in distress.

I have never met this rare Kenyan but her story in the Sunday Nation touched me. It reminded me that in this country of selfish, mean and greedy humans, there are indeed still a few good men and women. All we need to do is to look harder in the slums, suburbs and rural areas to find them.

A story is told when Maurine one Sunday morning received an early morning call, that someone, a stranger was badly hurt and needed some urgent help. The caller interestingly turned out to be “Mother Teresa’s” relative.

When she got to the scene, what she saw was horrifying enough. A young lady was lying naked in a pool of blood possibly raped before being battered by her attackers.

The first thing that occurred to Maurine was that this was a Nairobi Women’s Hospital case because a rape attack was the very reason that hospital came into being. However, transporting the victim from Umoja’s Eastlands across the slums to the up market Kilimani area where the hospital is situated posed more logistical problems. Her victim was so badly injured that it was impossible to imagine transporting her in a Matatu.

The only lady who had a car and who Maurine knew declined to help because the victim’s blood would stain the seats of her beautiful machine! And with only Ksh 50 in her pocket on a Sunday morning, Maurine’s quick thinking was to exploit the onlookers that had gathered to see the naked body. In no time she raised enough cash to hire a cab to Nairobi hospital.

If she thought getting her victim to Nairobi Women’s Hospital would solve her problems, she was wrong again. The Nairobi Women’s Hospital staff was not keen to offer medical services to a “badly injured rape victim!” They called it Hospital policy. They even refused to offer a stretcher to get the poor woman from the taxi that ferried her there. Instead they advised Maurine and friends to take the woman to Kenyatta Hospital.

With no more money to take another taxi trip to Kenyatta National Hospital, it was a miracle that Maurine’s entourage finally got to the public hospital too late for the victim to be saved. She succumbed to her injuries.

Two lessons here; that woman at Umoja that refused to give a lift to the dying woman by the road side reminded me of that Pharisee of old bypassing a fellow Jew by the roadside after having been battered by highway robbers. Had it not been for the Good Samaritan, the Jew would have died.

The Nairobi Women’s Hospital behavior during this incident is not only horrifying but sends a chill down our spines. It shows how deep greed and meanness have obscured the many good intentions and noble ideas we have come up with from time to time. I’m not sure if Madam Jordan, the mother of Michael Jordan will be pleased to hear this story and how the hospital she is associated with handled it.

Negative characters aside; what even touched me more was the fact that Maurine on hearing that the stranger had died, did not give up on her and go home. She thought it was her duty to get the identity of the woman so that she could get in touch with her relatives lest the body is disposed of to some common grave. Despite her personal financial challenges, she ordered a DNA test for the girl, got details of where she came from in Nyanza and with that information, she went to face book to trace the relatives.

As luck would have it; someone who knew the relatives of the girl contacted Maurine and made it possible for her to contact the family that was already desperate to find their missing loved one. As I write this story, a very grateful family has finally laid to rest the body of their beloved relative.

Looking at this story; what can I say drove Maurine Murenga to go to these lengths to save a stranger; and even after failing to save her life, did everything to prevent her body from being buried in a common grave? More importantly; now that we know that her relatives call her Mother Teresa, what is it that makes this woman have so much passion and love for fellow human beings in a city that is so full of cruel and murderous characters?

To tell you the truth, Maurine’s heart must be the legendary heart of gold if there ever was one. In a city where hardly anybody does anything for anybody for nothing, here is a soul that expends her meager finances to see to it that others in helpless circumstances get the help they need.

If there is indeed one Kenyan that deserves to be honoured as a national hero, here is our perfect heroine for future medals and national honours!