What looked like a normal evening was the beginning of a long and difficult journey for 23-year-old Faith Mbithe.
It was on the evening of May 14, 2013. She had just arrived home in Kware, Embakasi South, where she lived with her family. Her two younger sisters had already returned from school.
Ms Mbithe lit the jiko, took it inside the house, locked the door and began to prepare dinner as she waited for her parents to return from work.
Unknown to her, the carbon monoxide from the charcoal stove was filling up the room, sucking up the oxygen. Soon, she and her sisters slipped into unconsciousness.
When Ms Mbithe regained her senses, she awoke to find their house enveloped in a thick dark cloud of smoke.
As she fought against the dizziness and choking smoke, her only thought was surviving.
“I could hear my sisters crying weakly, but I was too weak to reach them, or open the door for them to escape,” she says.
Ms Mbithe, then 19 years old, fell unconscious again as flames enveloped the house.
When she regained consciousness, she was stretched out on the ground outside their house, a crowd of people milling around, while others fanned her face.
Waking up alerted her to a new sensation, one of pain like she had never felt before in her left leg.
“The pain was simply unbearable,” she recalls.
Her sisters, Patience and Gladys, had also lost consciousness, having inhaled the deadly carbon monoxide gas in the smoke.
Their mother, Dorcas Mutindi, rushed them to a nearby clinic.
Ms Mbithe’s sisters were treated and discharged the same evening, but for her, she remained in hospital. Her leg had been badly burnt and she was transferred to Kenyatta National Hospital.
“At KNH, I was taken to the Accident and Emergency Unit, where doctors stabilised me before I was admitted,” she narrates.
She would later stay at the hospital for five months, during which her left leg was amputated.
“Doctors fought hard to save my limb but due to the severity of the burns, they had no choice but to amputate it” she says.
A shattered Ms Mbithe struggled to come to terms with her new condition. She was not counselled or given psychotherapy during her ordeal, something she says prolonged her ordeal. But her family was always by her side.
Ms Mbithe, determined to reclaim her life, turned to her friends in church to help meet the expenses of buying a prosthetic limb, which cost Sh200,000. The church held a fundraiser to collect the money.
She then applied to join Kenya Medical Training College and successfully enrolled for her studies.
Ms Mbithe wants to pursue a degree in paediatric medicine.
She encourages people living with disabilities to enjoy life like she does by engaging in their hobbies during their free time.
“Swimming helps me relax and builds my strength,” says Ms Mbithe.
I encourage people living with disabilities to enjoy life like I do by engaging in hobbies during their free time.”
By Aggrey Omboki