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Alarm as mentally-ill persons flood Voi
Alarm as mentally-ill persons flood Voi
Alarm as mentally-ill persons flood Voi
Alarm as mentally-ill persons flood Voi

 

 

BY PASCAL MWANDAMBO

 

Lilian Mkita is a sad and depressed single mother of three. The casual laborer from Mwakingali village in Voi, Taita-Taveta County, has been having a hectic time with her mentally ill son who dropped out of school in form three.

 

“My son was doing well in school until second term in form three when he refused to go back to school. His excuse was that he was being bullied by other students. This did not sound normal for me since it’s usually form ones who get bullied by older students. I went to school to enquire from the principle about my son’s problem. But to my utter dismay, the principle told me that my son had been complaining of being attacked by strange people in the dormitory. Eventually he disappeared from school”.

 

The distraught mother says that his son has now turned the house into a military garrison of sorts, setting up armories of all kinds. He moves around the compound with a wooded plank, taking aim as though  he was a commando knocking down enemies in a high noon desert duel.

 

On some occasions,  Mkita’s son disappears  only to resurface after several days, looking hungry and haggard. She says the illness comes in spells, especially during the cold season.

 

“I think my son is bewitched because he was doing very well in school,” the woman says ruefully.

 

This is just one of many cases that have come to characterize the rise and rise of mentally ill people in Voi town. Even though they say that every market has at least a mad person, Voi town has more that its fair share of metal sick persons.

 

 The bus park is now resembling a lunatic asylum and unless spiritual leaders take action this tourism resort town may soon have its image totally  dented by these homeless and sorry souls.

 

While it may be a trifle unkind to describe these mentally ill people as an eyesore, it would be imperative if action was taken to put up a home for the mentally ill, where they can undergo rehabilitation and keep them away from the main town.

 

A survey by   i-mpact news  has revealed that  within the Voi Central Business  District, there are over 15  mentally ill persons, mostly male, lost in their own world, while other people go about their chores, unconcerned.

 

In the dead of the night, once you alight at Voi the bus park, you will not fail to catch sight of one of these sorry souls, sleeping on the verandahs, curved up like a carpenter’s ruler.

 

Willy Mumo Kasuki, who has been living with mental illness for more than sixteen years, recounts how he has undergone tribulations as a mentally ill person.

 

He says some of his close relatives at times treat him with disdain while at times they ignore him. At the worst they keep away from him fearing that the condition may strike at any moment.

 

He says his first wife was taken away by his parents- in-law after he began developing mental problems.

 

He says were it not for his second wife who has been taking care of him, including helping him take the prescribed drugs regularly, probably he could be among the many mentally ill patients roaming Voi town and its environs.

 

In fact Mumo’s case is a clear pointer that mental illness, once detected early, can be put in check.

 

rehabilitation centre

 

“The government needs to think about putting up a rehabilitation center in Taita-Taveta county to help these mentally ill patients” says Mumo, a father of five.

 

Frank Joseph, a witch-buster from Tanzania, says the problem is partly due to rampant witchcraft in Voi and Taita-Taveta as a whole.

 

“Local people only claim to be deeply religious but their actions are not. Most of those who claim to be religious adherents are themselves witches when darkness falls and are using demonic forces to settle scores with their foes,” says Frank, who also goes under the trade mark Maji Marefu.

 

He says sometimes the problem arises in some families of superstitious people who believe in keeping demonic powers for protection and to get riches, only for these powers to turn against them with disastrous consequences.

 

A doctor in the town who sought anonymity however said stress of modern living can lead to mental illnesses which can go out of hand if not detected early and treated.

 

He says some of the cases referred to him are mainly of  middle-aged workers who were retrenched early from some parastatals in town.

 

“I give such people counseling on how to handle  obligations such as catering for their families in the face of the new challenges,” says the doctor.

 

He points out that in situations where such people do not get proper counseling, they may eventually turn to drugs such as alcohol to look for solace and comfort, only for the problem to spiral out of control.

 

 

 

 

“I give such people counseling on how to handle  obligations such as catering for their families in the face of the new challenges,” says the doctor.

 

 

 

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