12-year-old boy becomes family’s breadwinner as ailing mother stuck in hospital

Brian Kemboi (r) with his siblings. [Photo: Standard]

For a Grade Four pupil, he should have been in class since October 12 when schools partially reopened, but this is not the case for 12-year-old Brian Kemboi, a Grade Four pupil at Kapsowar Primary school.

The young Kemboi has shelved his ambition for education to become the sole breadwinner for his two other siblings – a six-year-old brother and four-year-old sister – and his ailing mother who is admitted at Kapsowar Mission Hospital.

On a typical day, Kemboi who lives in Kambi Swahili slums in Kapsowar rushes to the forest to fetch firewood and pieces of charcoal which he then sells to the public to earn some money to buy food.

In an interview with the Standard, he said that his mother Philarise Komen is ailing from a mild stroke and being the eldest, he has to take care of his siblings.

“We live from hand to mouth after my mother fell ill,” Kemboi narrated. “I get lucky if I fill a debe, which I hawk within homesteads and fetch up to Sh300 depending on the quality. At times, I fetch firewood and sell. This has kept us going.”

Days are not the same though, sometimes they beg for food from neighbours.

Kemboi’s mother has been in hospital for a while and her left leg is partially paralysed due to the mild stroke. She is also battling recurring abdominal pains and depression.

When the Standard visited her at the Kapsowar Mission Hospital, Komen said all she has is her three children. Her husband died years ago as well as her parents who lived as squatters in Embobut Forest.

Philarise Komen, Brian Kemboi’s mother. [Photo: Standard]

She said that the suffering of her children has pushed her into depression.

“I am appealing for help because the hospital has been kind to me and has been waiving all my medical bills, but now I require a CT scan and Kapsowar Hospital does not have the facility,” she appealed.

Stanley Mutwol who is the Kapsowar Mission Hospital director said that Komen had been living in a “polythene house” together with her three children.

The hospital’s missionaries rented her a house and took the children to school but when they left the country, everything went south again.

The hospital has waived Ksh140,000 medical bill that she has incurred but she needs specialized treatment which the hospital is not in a position to offer at the moment.

“At the moment, she requires abdominopelvic scan but we do not have the equipment,” Mutwol said.