On May 30, Caroline Chebet woke up, as usual, looking forward to another ordinary day at Rosehelme Academy in Kiambu.
She prepared her son, aged three-and-half years, and together they walked to the school where she is deputy headteacher.
Chebet had no clue tragedy would rob her of the only fruit of her womb.
“We left our home very jovial that day and his spirits were very high. Since I manage the PP2 class and he is still in baby class, we arrived earlier than everyone else….,” Chebet pauses, choking on tears.
“I helped my son complete his homework and when his teacher came, I walked him to his class and he bade me goodbye.”
Every day between 9 am and 9.30am, her son came back to her class for a cup of tea.
“My son came, took tea and headed back to his class. After about 10 minutes, I heard children screaming. I thought it was the normal screaming because at times children can get really stubborn,” Chebet says.
But the screams persisted. Chebet stepped out of class. She could clearly hear her son’s voice. Her heart pounding, she rushed to the scene of gathered children.
She breaks down. “This was my only child, I have no other. Where I am going to start? What shall I even say?
“I did not know that my son had fallen in a sufuria of porridge. I saw him helplessly crying for his life. A colleague helped me pull him out of the hot porridge. We poured cold water on him and rushed him to a nearby chemist for first aid,” she says.
The cook had placed hot porridge in a corridor and left to collect cups. The boy fell into the sufuria head and hands first.
He had burns all over his body, blood everywhere.
“The pharmacist looked at my son, gave him some pain killers and called an ambulance for us. He was admitted at Kenyatta National Hospital,” Chebet says.
For two weeks, she suffered by her son’s bedside.
“I felt every pain with him. I cried with him but as a mother I hoped he would live. I just wanted him to live even with the scars. I would still have a reason to smile, but all that was just a dream.”
Chebet says doctors at KNH tried all they could do but the burns were so severe. They prescribed surgery, scheduled for last Thursday.
“On Wednesday, my son opened his eyes and showed some signs of recovery. He told me to call his father so that we can get him out of hospital. I felt so happy because at least he had uttered a word though with pain.”
But on Thursday morning, the doctors suspended the surgery saying the boy had become weak and should be observed until the next day.
“The entire day, my son did not open his eyes. He was crying in pain as he held tight to my hand. I could not move. It was the longest day of my life as I sat at his bed. I watched the nurses struggle and by midday, he was put on oxygen,” Chebet says.
By night he looked better, opened his eyes and asked for something to eat. He told his mother how he would show her who pushed him when they got back home.
“At 12.45am, my son went into deep sleep. I felt uneasy. I called the nurses who confirmed he was okay. But three minutes to 1am, my son woke up and told me ‘Mommy bye’. He closed his eyes and that was it.”
The medical bill at KNH is Sh100,000.
“I am stranded. My husband is still in shock. We are trying to help him recover. For now, we ask for help to foot the bill and transport the body to Western,” Chebet says.