A Life Saved

Story by Donna Atola, Kenya Field Content Specialist
Photos by Ty Van Rensburg and Levi Rodgers

When Samini, a sponsored boy in Kenya, developed debilitating headaches, a timely intervention from Child Champions at his Hope Center secured the operation he desperately needed to live another day.

It all started with a little headache. Samini Muma, 16, was at his school in Mongotini, a remote village near Malindi, Kenya, when it hit. So he walked home, and his mother, Kariro Maranu, gave him a mild painkiller to reduce the throbbing.

Samini didn’t know it at the time, but this would be the beginning of a months-long journey of excruciating pain, seizures, frustration, false hope, and eventually healing, thanks to a critical intervention by Child Champions. Throughout his journey and despite his pain, Samini’s faith in God only grew stronger and gave him the strength to fight to survive.

Samini lives with his mother, Kariro, and his younger sister in Mongotini. Kariro farms a tiny piece of land to grow food. Samini’s four older siblings never finished school because they couldn’t pay the fees. But because Samini and his younger sister are sponsored through OneChild, they attend a primary school in their neighborhood and participate in activities at Grace Hope Center.
Samini recalls the day in October 2020 when the headache hit. “I remember this clearly because it was around that time that I stopped going to school,” he says.

Despite the medicine his mother gave him, Samini’s headache never went away and progressively got worse until the painkillers stopped working.

Samini Continues to Deteriorate

Samini’s mother watched with concern as her son’s health deteriorated and he began to go blind. “My son is usually bubbly, and he loved to play and tend to our goats, but all of a sudden he had changed,” Kariro recounts.

Soon Samini couldn’t walk, and he began having seizures. Kariro had spent all of her meager savings on medicine and had nothing left for further treatment.

So, she took him to church where congregants prayed and arranged a fundraiser to help him pay for more medication. Samini was then taken to a different dispensary in the village for treatment because the only hospital in the area is in Malindi, 14 miles from the village, and Kariro did not have the $12 it cost for transportation.

But Samini’s condition continued to decline. He became partially paralyzed and fully dependent on his mother to feed and bathe him.

“I became sad. Despite the prayers, physical effort, and money I put into helping my son, his state worsened,” Kariro recalls amid tears. “Rumors of my son being possessed by evil spirits spread, and I became the laughingstock of my village.”

Family Turns to Witch Doctors

Having exhausted all the money, Kariro turned to her extended family for help. They borrowed more than 1,000USD to bring Samini to a witch doctor who they believed had the power to cure him. But the witch doctor fled with the money.

The family then took him to a second witch doctor who blew ashes over his body and chanted. By this time, his mother says, Samini was in excruciating pain and rolled on the ground screaming. Even through his pain Samini shouted at the witch doctor, “I rebuke you in the name of Jesus Christ!”

When it was time for Samini to return home, Kariro says, “My relatives dumped him at my doorstep. I looked at him, and I could not hold back my tears. He was still breathing fine, but his body was in a bad state. Some people around the community had already started making burial arrangements for him because they were certain he would not make it past a week.

“All I could do was weep for my son. Watching him unable to move, just suffering, was too much.”

But Samini hung on, and in April 2021, a family member sent Kariro bus fare to take Samini to Malindi for diagnosis at a hospital. A scan revealed a swelling, known as hydrocephalus, on the right side of Samini’s brain. Samini would need to travel 75 miles away to have surgery at Coast General Hospital in Mombasa.

Though the diagnosis provided relief, the family had no money left for further treatment or transportation.

Samini Is Delivered

When Child Champions heard about Samini’s ordeal, they stepped in. Mike, the program manager in Malindi, journeyed to Samini’s remote village by motorcycle to check on him. Mike and William, the partnership and program facilitator in Malindi, helped Samini secure a travel pass and an appointment with a specialist in Mombasa.

There was a ban on public transport due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this didn’t stop Mike. He personally drove Samini and his mother the long distance to the hospital for the appointment and eventually for his surgery. 

After his surgery, Samini recovered for two months in the hospital before he was able to come home. Mike ensured that all Samini’s medical bills were covered and that he would receive the physical therapy he needed to fully recover.

Samini is now healing and beginning to dream of his future. “I have never trusted God more than I did when I was sick,” he says. “When most people gave up on me, my trust in God grew. I am so glad that my Hope Center helped lay a strong foundation of Christ’s faithfulness in me. It is my love for God that gave me the strength to fight the pain and hope to live another day.”

Until he was hospitalized in Mombasa, Samini was not certain what he wanted to be when he grows up. He was inspired by his doctor and nurses.

“Back in the village, very few children dare to dream because most of us are not exposed to different careers,” he says. “But when I saw how those medics treated me and how kind they were to me, yet they never knew me, I knew I wanted to become a doctor and help others too.”

Samini’s mother adds, “There is something extraordinary that is impacted on children who attend the program at the Hope Center. This boy needed positivity and hope from people around, but he was surrounded by people at home who were hopeless. He somehow derived hope, strength, and bravery from within.

“This kind of resilience is not found with everyone in the community. He was given this skill at the Hope Center early enough, and it came in handy when he got sick. My hope for him is that he grows to become what he dreams of and to serve God always.”

When most people gave up on me, my trust in God grew. I am so glad that my Hope Center helped lay a strong foundation of Christ’s faithfulness in me.”

Watch Samini’s mom recount his story: