Girl who became dumb after post-election violence horror seeks her family

Lilian Mbula during the interview at her foster family's home at Kiamunyi in Nakuru. She lost her speech after she saw attackers dismember her mother's body and put it in a fridge during the 2007/2008 post-election violence. She is unable to recall what happened before and after the horrific experience. She longs to re-unite with the rest of her family. PHOTO/SULEIMAN MBATIAH

What you need to know:

  • On being rescued, she found herself roaming freely between 2008 and 2009.
  • She hardly recalls what happened before the 'fridge' incident or after.
  • She moved from camp to camp looking for her family and that is what she still she does to date.
  • Mbula, a form three student at a Mumias-based school for the deaf, is happy with her life but her recovery solely relies on a reunion with her family.

She is an amiable person living happily with a foster family but her heart yearns for the moment she will be reunited with her family.

Lilian Mbula’s mind is clear on the lavish lifestyle she enjoyed before the infamous 2007/2008 post-election chaos struck spewing violence straight to her family's sitting room where she saw attackers put her mother’s dismembered body into a fridge.

"That left her so traumatised that her mind 'locked'. Her memory was gone and for five years she has not uttered a word.

We know she hears and at one time she did speak because she can write well in English and Kiswahili," says her foster mother Ms Charity Wambwa.

SOMETHING NASTY

"Something nasty must have happened before her eyes and doctors at Kenya National Hospital's counselling section believe she will re-open up only after the 'nasty' experience comes out of her mind and she is able to come to terms with it," adds Ms Wambwa.

On being rescued, she found herself roaming freely between 2008 and 2009.

Mbula roamed in internally displaced persons’ (IDP) camps in Nakuru looking for her parents and other siblings but it was all in vain.

She was later rescued and taken to hospital for treatment.

“She hardly recalls what happened before the 'fridge' incident or after but remembers being grabbed by her brother from the burning house and was taken to her their grandmother Nancy Nekesa.

“And when the rowdy mob struck again, she and her grandmother fled in different directions and that was the end of any link with her family.

IDP CAMPS

She was ushered into a lorry and driven to Nakuru where she lived in IDP camps.

She moved from camp to camp looking for her family and that is what she still she does to date.

At one point she collapsed due to exhaustion and later admitted to Nakuru General Hospital where upon discharge a court ordered she be remanded at Nakuru Juvenile Remand Home awaiting completion of a search to reunite her with her family.

"Not a word from anyone or a visit to any part of Kenya-Machakos, Kakamega, Eldoret, Baringo and Nakuru has yielded her life's greatest urge - to see her family again," says volunteer children's Officer Mr Duncan Gitonga.

While searching for her parents in Machakos she sat the end of year KCPE national examinations and came out the best performing deaf pupil in the country but that did not end her urge to 'speak' again since she still believes some of her family members are still alive.

Mbula, a form three student at a Mumias-based school for the deaf, is happy with her life but deep down, says Wambwa, her recovery solely relies on a reunion with her family.

DEEP SADNESS

Ms Wambwa says they enjoy staying with her but when moments of deep sadness creep in, she and her two children just watch as Mbula cries and locks herself in her room for the whole day.

“She refuses to eat and we fear she could harm herself one day.

We only hope her family would emerge to help her with healing as she is a bright girl whose performance in school has left everyone puzzled,” says Ms Wambwa who is also the Nakuru Children’s and Juvenile Home manager.

“We have taken her to the best counsellors to help her ease the pain but even clinical counsellors at Kenyatta National Hospital agree that the violence she saw meted out to her family members was insurmountable forcing her to suffer Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

RE-UNITE WITH FAMILY

A Nakuru Volunteer Children’s Officer Mr Duncan Gitonga pleaded with Kenyans to help the nineteen year old girl reunite with her family saying this would make her improve her grades in school as well as help her regain her speech.

At one point they toured Makindu, Machakos Town, Baringo’s mining area and Soy in Uasin Gishu County but it was in vain as she is yet to regain her memory.

“She uses sign language that she learnt at the children’s home but she can write well in Kiswahili and English.

This confirms she was able to write at some point but lost her speech when her parents were killed during the violence,’ he says.

Mr Gitonga said that several children who suffered PTSD have since been reunited with their families and others placed in foster homes but the drain on emotions of children living with foster families emerges when they recall the pain.

Ms Wambwa says they would wish to reunite Mbula with her family but are ready to continue helping her as she wishes to one day become a lawyer and help distressed children access justice and better care.