Kindness, as Martin Luther King Jr once said, is key to the survival of our species and makes our world a better place.
“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness,” he said.
For Diba Matacho, 23, life has been laden with both joy and seasons of gloom and doom.
Like any other student, he had big ambitions when he was admitted to St Paul's Secondary School in Marsabit County in 2014.
He woke up daily to go to school, hoping it was the only way out of the abject penury he was born into and bred in.
He had dreamed of becoming an accountant or an engineer someday.
But in 2017, when he was supposed to sit the KCSE examination, he fell sick, and his roller-coaster journey started.
He was diagnosed with chronic tuberculosis.
After five months on medication, his lungs collapsed and he developed lung fibrosis, and he had to depend on oxygen therapy to survive.
Marsabit Referral Hospital referred him to Kirwa Mission Hospital in Meru before he was sent to Kenyatta National Hospital and finally to Nairobi Women’s Hospital for specialised treatment.
At Nairobi Women’s Hospital, he was introduced to strong drugs that cost Sh60,000 per month for three months. His condition improved slightly, reducing his oxygen dependency from 24 to eight hours a day.
But he stopped taking the drugs because he could not afford them. He returned to Marsabit Referral for support as he could not survive without an oxygen concentrator machine.
Marsabit Referral CEO Liban Wako was moved by Matacho’s plight and assigned him a separate ward where he could stay near the hospital’s oxygen concentrator.
Matacho told the Nation on November 14 that he felt like wherever he looked, other people were moving ahead with their lives while he wasted away in the hospital.
He saw most of his classmates and age mates hit milestones earlier, climbing ranks with more ease or figuring things out faster, leaving him in the darkness of self-pity.
He longed for the moments when relief could flood through him, and his life brightened a little so that he could make up for the lost years.
At some points, he viewed death as his only immediate saviour from his endless suffering and longed that it would come soon.
But when Nation.Africa put an appeal on behalf of Matacho and his family, well-wishers came knocking with the determination to see him live longer than he envisioned.
On Thursday, Matacho got the shock of his life as Marsabit County Governor Mohamud Ali’s wife walked into his ward and handed over a portable oxygen concentrator he had longed for in the last three years.
“We are here to stand with our brother who has gone through pain for more than three years and today we want to give him a gift that will help him stand back on his feet as we pray for his quick recuperation,” Ms Alamittu Ali said.
She said she learned about Matacho’s sickness from the Nation story and was touched by the young man’s predicament.
She expressed optimism that the equipment would help Matacho heal so that he could be discharged and be reunited with his family at home after a three-year stay in hospitals.
Ms Ali lauded Nation Media Group for highlighting Matacho’s illness and putting out an appeal for him.
On Friday, before he started his national examination at Marsabit Referral, we caught up with him to encourage him. He had made a drastic improvement psychologically.
For the first time, we saw him beaming with smiles and invigoration, his spirits finally buoyed by the acts of kindness from well-wishers.
He seemed to have finally shaken the bad feelings and was ready to fight for his survival.
He recounted how incredible it appeared to him that he had finally received the oxygen concentrator that he never dreamed of obtaining as the cost was prohibitive.
“I now feel my hope has been recharged and I have enough confidence that I will do my KCSE and proceed to university to study computer science or accounting,” Matacho said.
He also thanked the Good Samaritans who came through for him and Nation Media Group, which had highlighted his predicament.
Matacho’s teacher, Fauzia Liban, who has been his greatest pillar throughout his sickness, also came to witness whether everything was in order before he started his national examinations.
Ms Liban said Matacho’s three-year agony had been heart-wrenching even for her.
She had formed three WhatsApp groups and mobilised other well-wishers, who contributed Sh500,120 alongside Ms Ali’s donation of the oxygen concentrator.
She also thanked those who came through for Matacho and urged them to continue extending such kind gestures to other suffering persons.
Mr Wako, the Marsabit Referral CEO, confirmed that Matacho’s condition was stable and he was able to sit his KCSE tests.
“I thank all the Good Samaritans who chipped in and Nation Media Group for putting out the appeal, thus attracting the much-needed attention,” he said.