Mother’s miracle as ‘dead’ child resurrects

East African Standard By Vitalis Kimutai Published on 11/05/2010


Three years ago, at the height of the mass killings by the Sabaot Lands Defence Force (SLDF) members in Mount Elgon, Mrs Rose Rono went into premature labour.
She was rushed to Kitale District Hospital where she gave birth.

Her baby, Haroun Kipyegon, was put in the incubator for two months before they were discharged from the facility.

Rose Rono points at her child’s photo published in CCI magazine.

 

But upon returning home in Chepyuk, she found a ghost village as most of her neighbours had fled their homes following sustained attacks by SLDF.

“I was shocked to be told that my husband and five children had all been killed by SLDF and all our household goods stolen,” Rose says.
With a sickly young child, Rose had nowhere to go and had to be housed by the few remaining villagers before they moved to an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Endebess.
From the time she received the news, life has never been the same.

Rose had become a widow, homeless and had lost all her children except the newborn.
But even as the villagers insisted that all her children had been killed, Rose had a feeling that some of them could be alive somewhere.

And she has gone to great heights in search of them.
The hope of finding them has been burning in her and it has refused to die to date.

And a fortnight ago, lady luck came smiling on her.

CCI magazine published a story of dozens of lost children who are stuck in children’s homes. With the story was a picture of several of such children at a home in Nairobi.
Incidentally, Rose came across the magazine. The picture of one of the children, a girl, in the centre back row dressed in a red dress, struck her.

Happy reunion

Rose was so excited when she realised it was her daughter, eight-year-old Faith Cheptoo.

It is then that she embarked on the long journey of getting back her daughter.
Rose told her tearful story at The Standard Eldoret bureau offices in the company of a local lawyer Mrs Ledisha Kipseei and Reverend Ignatius Sheri of the Anglican Catholic Church (ACK).

“We bumped into her at Kapsabet Children’s Offices seeking to know the direction to the Nairobi Children’s Home and how she could travel to Nairobi to re-unite with her daughter. She also wanted to know whether the department could facilitate her child to travel to Eldoret,” the lawyer explained.

Kipseei is currently trying to reunite the mother with her child through the Children’s Court, the Red Cross and the Children’s Department in Eldoret.
Armed with the copy of the CCI magazine, an elated Rose with her last born child strapped to her back thanked CCI for publishing the picture saying she could not wait to meet her daughter.

She said that she had previously sought the support of several MPs from Rift Valley to enable her search for her missing children but most of them turned their back on her.
“Some of the MPs thought I wanted money from them or that I was a nuisance. But I have always prayed that God unites me with some of my children,” she says.
“My strong belief in God and prayer is paying off as I have never given up,” Rose says.

Abraham Kibeu, a Kenya Red Cross Society volunteer says the society’s Eldoret branch is in contact with the Nairobi office working on the re-union between the mother and child.

The girl, circled, was among many others at a children’s home in Nairobi. Photo: File/Standard


“The mother has positively identified the child and it is important that we bring the two together to authenticate that Rose is the real mother,” Kibeu says.

 

He says that even after the mother and child meet, it is important to establish whether or not the two were willing to re-unite as the child cannot be forced into a
situation she does not like.

An excited Rose says the hope of finding the other children has now been boosted.
She says she had unsuccessfully searched for her children in various IDP camps in Malava, Busia and Bungoma.

“I was told that some of my children might have fled to Uganda with some of the villagers following the mopping up of arms and raid of SLDF cells in Mount Elgon Forest by the military. But that has not been a very convincing idea,” Rose says.
She has also visited various children’s home in vain.

Great hope

“I have also gone to various military camps in Mount Elgon, Eldoret and Gilgil in the hope that some of the officers might have come across my children during the
operation but all doors were closed on me,” she laments.

Fighting back tears, the visibly disturbed mother says she also went to Kilgoris and Nyamira where the provincial administration referred her back to Mount Elgon.

Rose believes that her husband Kiplangat Rono, was killed during the series of attacks by SLDF who targeted men.

“My only problem is that I have not been able to see bodies of my family members who are said to have been killed by the SLDF,” she says.

She recalls how some people she sought support from advised her to look for a job and earn money instead of sulking and searching for her family.
“For the last three years, I have spent all the time and energy in trying to trace them or at least confirm that they are indeed dead,” she says.
“There is no way I could have looked for a job when I have no family to work for. All I want is my family back. There is no value for money without a family to enjoy the fruits
of your labour with,” Rose says.
She says the discovery of her daughter gives her hope that the others could be alive. She now vows to continue searching for the rest.

 

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