Pokot girl puts up brave fight against heart condition

Monday July 06 2020

Chemtwa Nakwang’a, 12, from East Pokot recuperates at a Nakuru hospital on July 4, 2020. She has severe heart condition and requires an urgent surgery. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI | NATION MEDIA GROUP


By any measure, 12-year-old Chemtwa Nakwang’a from Tiaty constituency in East Pokot, Baringo County, should weigh at least 45kg.

However, her frail and emaciated body barely weighs 15kg. Her eyes look heavy and sad as she tries to speak.  Nakwang’a developed a heart condition which has affected her growth and general body development.

According to doctors at a Nakuru hospital, she has severe rheumatoid cardiovascular disease which requires an urgent surgery to save her life. She cannot walk long without experiencing body pains and loss of breath.


When her condition deteriorated, she was rushed to Chemolingot Dispensary, some 40 km away from her home on a boda boda and later transferred to Nakuru.

However, a quick intervention by well-wishers raised Sh6,000 for ambulance charges to Nakuru where she was diagnosed with a heart condition.  


“The hospital says if she has National Hospital Insurance Fund card we can pay Sh500,000 but since we don’t have, we are required to pay Sh1million for her to undergo an urgent heart surgery,” said her cousin Joshua Kanachom.

Nakwang’a has no birth certificate, a vital document required during registration for NHIF. Before she undergoes the heart surgery, she has to clear a Sh100,000 bill at the Nakuru hospital.  

 “The hospital says she will only be discharged if we clear the bill,” said Kanachom.

 “Her father died while she was two years old, while her mother abandoned her and remarried elsewhere. Her poor relatives have been struggling to take care of her,” said Kanachom.  


Through an interpreter, Nakwang’a says she undergoes a lot of pain. As she speaks, she tries to feel her heart beat as if to check whether it is working well and wonders where her help will come from. 

“This is where my heart is aching she says. I can neither stand nor sleep, it is very painful,” she says.

The heart condition has affected her health. She has spent most of her early life lying on bare ground in Tiaty. She has never been to school. Nakwang’a who hopes the pain will go away if she under goes a heart surgery, wants to go to school.

 “I ask well-wishers to help me raise money to undergo surgery. I want to go to school like other girls in Kenya and promote reconciliation among the warring communities and end female cut,” she says through an interpreter.


Despite the condition, she believes she shall overcome.

 “I shall one day heal and go to school. I would not like any child to undergo what I’m going through, it is very painful,” she said.

 “My body is very weak and I can’t walk. I feel very weak,” said Nakwang’a. However, amid her pains, she remains optimistic and undeterred.

“I know one day I will walk out of this disease,” she says.