A university student who survived the deadly Chesegon landslide on the West Pokot/Elgeyo-Marakwet border in April, which claimed more than 20 lives, Thursday recounted how she had a close brush with death.
Ms Nancy Pyatich, 23, a third year education student at Moi University, who was discharged from the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) in Eldoret where she was admitted on April 20, recalled that on the fateful day, she at Chesogon centre.
“It started raining moderately at around 4 pm and I started hearing unusual sounds from the river. I was in a shop when two men came running towards the centre, shouting that things would get worse that evening and that we should run. We immediately started gathering some documents, including the certificates of my brother who had graduated earlier, and some money,” she said.
Ms Pyatich says they started running towards the Marakwet side, only to realise that the river there had burst its banks and was carrying away houses and debris.
“The centre is surrounded by four rivers, two permanent and two seasonal. We decided to run to the Pokot side but the river there was also overflowing, so we decided to climb a mugumo tree, like other people were doing,” she adds.
Unfortunately. her last-born brother could not to climb the up fast enough and as she reached out to help him, she was swept downstream.
“He was shouting my name but I told him not to call me and instead talk to God by saying a prayer. We are grateful that God saved us. There was an iron sheet being swept by the water.It almost cut me but luckily, I dodged it,” says Ms Pyatich.
As she was being swept away, she hit her forehead against a stone and passed out.
“When I regained consciousnes, I realised that my head and hands were above the mud. I tried to reach for anything but felt a thorny tree and stopped reaching out. I started drifting off that Sunday evening,” she recalls.
The following day (more than 48 hours after the tragedy), she heard voices fading in the distance and cried out for help.
“That is how I was rescued and I thank God for being with me. I prayed to God to save me since I had a year to graduate and I had not achieved anything. I want to go back to university and get involved in serving God,” she adds.
She says it took the hand of God for her and her three brothers to survive the tragedy that saw many people buried in mud, with some bodies unlikely to ever be recovered.
When the Nation met her at the hospital her face, legs and hands bore scars, permanent reminders of her close brush with death.
She thanked medics at MTRH for the professional care they accorded her during the 47days she spent at the facility.
“At first I was in denial andcould not believe what had befallen me, but I have now accepted my situation and realised that I cannot change anything” she says softly.
The experience changed her world view, such that she now wants to drop education and pursue a career in nursing.
“I was touched by the good care the nurses gave me. I want to study nursing to help other people,” says Ms Pyatich, who was driven out of the hospital shortly after midday by her uncle, Mr Robert Aledum.
Dr Richard Munyaru, a doctor at the MTRH, said that she was treated for multiple injuries, including some to the head and arms and an, ear infection. She was also in a state of intense psychological trauma.
“We started treatment immediately and we have been offering her psychological counselling regularly,” he said.
Yesterday, Moi University Vice-Chancellor Isaac Kosgey gave her financial assistance and a personal donation face masks.
“We want to appreciate her resilience for overcoming this trauma and urge her to continue with the resilience. As an institution, we will continue supporting her,” Prof Kosgey said.
MTRH Chief Executive Officer Wilson Aruasa praised the government’s efforts in assisting victims of the tragedy, which left many people homeless.
“We thank God that she has healed, courtesy of professional help received here and her resilience. We wish her all the best as she starts her life afresh after going through such a harrowing experience,” said Dr Aruasa.
He said the hospital would do everything l within its means to ensure that Ms Pyatich achieves her dream of being a nurse.
She ran up a hospital bill of Sh145,000, of which the ministry of Interior’s National Disaster Operation Centre paid Sh112,000, while the hospital took care of the balance.
According to Rift Valley Regional Coordinator George Natembeya, 24 people are still missing following the tragedy, eight of which only body parts have been recovered.
He said that that in West Pokot side, three people, among them two police officers, lost their lives while another four were still missing.
Ms Pyatich now hopes to pursue another course related to medicine and nursing through her experience to assist more patients going through similar challenges.