Former military officer and now Pastor Joseph Gitumbe is a living anecdote of “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
Gitumbe is still on the road to recovery six years after he was involved in a road accident that left him with a disfigured face.
In 2013, Gitumbe was rushed to hospital after being involved in a road accident where doctors worked for hours to rebuild his face before being discharged months later to recuperate at home.
“The impact was enough to shatter my nose, eye sockets and left cheek, and cause a deep cut to from my forehead to my cheek,‘’ he said.
Although Gitumbe sustained a catalogue of injuries in the crash including severe facial wounds, several broken ribs and a broken spine, his self-esteem suffered and he became more traumatic.Gitumbe revealed he was dumped by his wife and abandoned by some of his friends after the surgery left him with scars on his face.
“A woman I had loved left me immediately she learnt I had lost my face. She told me that my face scares our child. It broke my heart. I felt like committing suicide. My wife decided to rent a separate house,” he said.
He further added that he felt demoralized and could not go out after the treatment because he didn’t want people to see his scars.“I was left in the hands of friends who stood by me during the trying times. Some of my relatives avoided my calls,” he added.
“My work mates at the barracks gave me all manner of demeaning names. It was too much.” I would occasionally ask doctors attending to me to cut off my head just to end my pain. I wanted acceptance.”
Gitumbe, who worked as a KDF officer at the time of the accident, said he was relieved of duty in 2016 on medical grounds. He had served five years in the military.This was after a team of medical doctors sat down and concluded that he was unfit to work.“I was approached and asked to sign a letter and start making plans to leave the barracks,” Gitumbe narrated to the Standard Digital Video desk.
“I first turned away the papers and asked them where they expected me to go with such a condition and yet I got injured while on duty. I tried to convince them that relieving me would only worsen my condition as I had no money.”Silently, in his heart, he was planning to teach the people he believed were the cause for his downfall a lesson. On the list was his wife and some colleagues in the army.
“I had decided to kill my colleagues who were on the doctors’ board. How could they preside over my dismissal yet they knew I needed help? I was going to kill my wife and thereafter kill myself,” said Joseph.
However, rather than dwell on the past, Joseph went for a prayer meeting at Redeemed Gospel Church in Huruma, Nairobi.
He met with Pastor Nancy Maina who is also a professional psychologist. Before she prayed for him, she made him understand the value of life.“I went there for prayers. But she was scared of me because I was shaking and agitated. She however managed to calm me down and convinced me to ditch my plan. She told me that I was still valuable despite my scars.”
He then realised what he had missed for three years – acceptance and love. He went home a different person after the revelation.
“I dropped my evil plans,” says Joseph who started counselling sessions with the pastor.The church also offered him financial help.