Anne Makena is a strong woman who has gone through myriad traumatising times, even in a far away foreign land. As a child, she grew up with all the valid dreams and fantasies of life that a child in a stable home could have. She had loving parents, siblings and friends who meant all well for her.
She dreamt of going to America after school, getting a job, raising her own stable family with a dotting husband and bubbly children screaming and screeching playfully in her compound...
Well, her dream for America finally came. But that is just about the only one that flourished. Nearly everything else crumbled around her. The America she found was different from the one she dreamt of.
She got married, yes, but her first marriage flopped a tad too soon. She had a sickly child whose condition has agonised her for long. She conceived her second child out of wedlock from a man who took advantage of her desperate situation and fled as soon as he learnt of her pregnancy...
Such is the sorry story of Anne Makena, a Kenyan woman in the USA as told in her new inspirational book Knowing and Yielding to the Voice that Counts. Born in Meru, Kenya, Makena moved to the USA soon after school to pursue higher education and other dreams. And for nearly 15 years now, she has endured intense physical, emotional and spiritual trials and tribulations that many cannot even imagine.
She studied divinity, psychology and counselling and has a Masters degree in theological studies.
Through poetry, scripture passages, song and prose, Makena describes the challenges she has faced bringing up her children single-handedly amid loneliness, sickness as well as pressure of work and studies in the famed land of opportunity.
She has defied many a grim expectations of her son and herself. When she was expecting her first child, Nathaniel (Nate), doctors realised he had severe brain disorders that may not see the pregnancy to a full term. And if she delivered, the baby might not survive the first hour of birth. Baby Nate, despite a gruelling fight with the rare brain condition, has lived to be 13 years and going to school.
When she got pregnant after divorce and informed her father, the old man was shocked and thought she might not get a man to marry her again. Nope, barely three months after her second delivery, she found a new husband with whom she has lived very happily thereafter. She had, however, feared that her conception of baby Sally out of wedlock would be in conflict with her public and spiritual role as a chaplain.
Makena, a former chaplain of a hospice, has lost the number of times she has been to hospital over her son’s rare ailment. Soon after birth, Nate suffered a severe hydrocephalus condition and chronic seizures that saw him admitted frequently to hospitals. At one time, Makena says, hospital became their new home. But after many years of medication and numerous brain surgeries, Nate is thriving.
Beside recounting her plight and resilience, Knowing and Yielding to the Voice that Counts offers lessons on bringing up a child with a special medical condition. It also provides useful information on ailments associated with hydrocephalus and the medico-surgical procedures around it.
Ever the prayerful woman and holder of MA in theology, Makena attributes her triumph over tribulation to her faith and trust in God.
Whether intentionally or otherwise, the author has not omitted mention of any date or timelines regarding her story from blissful childhood her Meru to her bumpy adulthood in Minnesota. This could deny readers the advantage to attach some key events of her life and struggle to a specific time and date.
The book could equally do with a more specific details of places. Readers would connect with the story more which village she was born and brought up, rather than just “a village in Meru.”