David Maina
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'My first instinct was to protect the children': A father's sacrifice in Mai Mahiu

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Mr David Maina, a survivor of the Mai Mahiu flooding tragedy, recuperates at the Naivasha Sub-county Hospital in Nakuru County on April 30, 2024.

Photo credit: Joseph Openda | Nation Media Group

From his hospital bed at Naivasha Sub-county Hospital, David Maina, a sand harvester, recounts the harrowing ordeal of fighting for his family's survival when disaster struck and separated them in the chaos.

He was in the house with his wife, his two children aged four and 17 and his sister-in-law with her two children when tragedy struck in Korea village in Mai Mahiu on Monday morning.

"As a father, my first instinct was to shield the children. But when the tragedy struck, it was as if we were facing a force of nature we couldn't comprehend," Maina recalls, his voice cracking with emotion.

Awakened by thunderous noises in the middle of the night, Maina ventured outside, only to be confronted by the rushing waters from the Kijabe escarpment.

"I realised the imminent danger and knew I had to act quickly to protect my family," he continues, his eyes distant as he relives the moment.

Realising the imminent danger, Maina says he quickly tried to lift his children to safety on top of a cupboard to get them as high as possible where the water couldn't reach them.

Clung desperately to each other

But before he could secure his family, the flood swept through the house, throwing them out through the roof as they clung desperately to each other.

"It all happened so fast," Maina recalls, his voice shaking with emotion. 

"One moment we were together, the next we were torn apart by the merciless force of nature."

Amid the turbulent waters, Maina reassured his terrified family, promising divine intervention, telling them not to worry and that God would save them.

Instil hope

"I tried to instil hope in their hearts even as fear threatened to consume us," he told Nation from his bed.

But as they clung to a floating roof, Maina's grip slipped, and he sacrificed himself to avoid taking his loved ones down with him.

"I knew I had to let go to save my family. It was the hardest decision of my life, but I had to do it," he says, his voice breaking with emotion.

Swept away by the raging tide, Maina endured a harrowing journey, buffeted by debris and struggling against the current.

"I felt like I was fighting for my life with every ounce of strength I had left. But in the midst of the chaos, I never lost hope that I would see my family again," he recalls.

Miraculously, he found refuge in the chaos, clinging to a chain-link fence, where rescuers eventually found him, battered and exhausted.

"I don't know how long I held on," he admits, his eyes filled with tears. "But when the rescuers found me, it was like a ray of hope in the darkness."

Scars of his ordeal

Admitted to the hospital with 21 others, Maina now faces a painful recovery, his body bearing the scars of his ordeal.

But amid the pain, his thoughts are consumed by prayers for the safety of his family, in the hope that they too have survived the disaster.

"As I lie here, I can't help but wonder if they made it out alive. All I can do is pray and hope that they are safe wherever they are because I don't have any information yet," he whispered.