A widower's heartache: Losing wife weeks after triplets' birth, left with 9 children

The sad life of widowed father of triplets in West Pokot

What you need to know:

  • According to Mr Teletum, his wife began experiencing severe chest pains and was rushed to the hospital.
  • Mr Teletum depends on volunteers who have been streaming in to assist him take care of the newborns.

Inside a semi-permanent house at the heart of Kaplelachkoror village, West Pokot County, lie triplets on a mattress spread on the floor.

Cheriwoi, Mengich and Makal are just three weeks old. Wearing innocent smiles, they giggle ecstatically, throwing their legs up, oblivious to the tragedy that has befallen their new family.

Outside, their father, 44-year-old Julius Losiakep Teletum, is seated on a stool next to a fresh grave. This is where his beloved wife and mother of the triplets, Mercy Chepkorir, was laid to rest last week. 

The mother of his now nine children was in good health when she gave birth to the triplets in early February, at least to the best of his knowledge, he says.

Mercy, 39, delivered on February 2 and died on February 21. 

Mr Teletum is struggling to come to terms with the sudden turn of events. Everything happened so fast, he says.

His wife had a healthy pregnancy and gave birth to triplets at home without any complications, he tells ‘Nation’.

On February 15, she started falling ill and went to the hospital for medical attention.

“She came back home but the situation got worse. We took her back to the hospital but she lost her life,” Mr Teletum says.

According to medical reports, Mercy died of pneumonia and chest complications, leaving behind her husband of 20 years, and young children, including the triplets.

According to Mr Teletum, his wife began experiencing severe chest pains and was rushed to the hospital.

The stay-at-home dad has now been left with the responsibility of caring for their newborn triplets and the other six children, noting that it is a tough job.

Without their mother, he had to find an alternative source of milk for the babies — processed powder milk.

“Nan milk is expensive. It’s not the life I had planned, but my dreams changed when Mercy passed on,” the distraught father says.


Julius Losiakep Teletum with three volunteers carrying triplets whose mother died three weeks after their birth at Kaplelachkoror village in West Pokot County on February 27, 2024.

Photo credit: Oscar Kakai | Nation Media Group

Before his wife died, he would go out and seek menial jobs.

“This is the worst experience I have endured in my life. The pain is overwhelming when I think that the triplets have no mother to cater to them,” he says, fighting back tears.

Mr Teletum depends on volunteers who have been streaming in to assist him take care of the newborns.

“I have to look for volunteers and neighbours to help me look after the babies. The task is hard especially at night, at times I fail to get people to help me,” he says.

“The children can cry the whole night. Every day there is the regular feeding, changing diapers, and washing them.” 

Even with the tragedy, Mr Teletum does not believe in bad luck.

“You have to find hope, and you have to find some kind of joy even in tragedy. All these happened for a reason. I’ll never forget Mercy, and I often think about her,” he says.

Mr Teletum is seeking support from well-wishers to help him fend for his family. 

His neighbours and some family members have helped him get a till number for contributions (Till no: 4202948, Name: Julius Losiakep Teletum). 

Mr Teletum’s firstborn is 17 years and all six children are in school.

“The family gets little support from neighbours and friends. After the burial, people went away,” says Mr Elijah Kasheusheu, a neighbour.

“The babies are healthy, but it is a hard task to handle the triplets. You must have three people to handle the children. We call on the government, local leaders, and well-wishers to come to our neighbour’s help,” he says.

Ms Esther Lodia, another neighbour who helps look after the babies, called on well-wishers to support the family.

“The family needs school fees for the other children. The babies need six tins of nan in a month because they don’t breastfeed. They also need clothes and other basic needs,” she said.