There is no suffering in life without an end, a wise man once said but in her formative years, Dr Edith Kamaru Kwobah never saw the end of her suffering premised on her humble beginnings.
She was one of the seven siblings in her family and life was not rosy at all; they grew up in a two-roomed mud-walled house in Ndeiya, Kiambu County.
From a tender age, Dr Edith who works at the Department of Mental Health at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret did not have the luxury of having playtime like other children.
She was busy helping her parent till the land for meagre pay. Wearing a shoe to school was a luxury to her.
“I don’t remember playing much as a child. Unless chores were considered a form of play. If you were not ploughing the land, you were by the road collecting firewood or collecting leaves to feed the cow or working in the neighbouring farms for a few coins,” she recalled in an interview published on Citizen Digital.
She had jiggers in her toes but that never bothered her much. She would remove the jigger burrowed deep in her feet, wash the infected part and continue with her chores.
Surprisingly, Dr Edith was a sharp mind and always topped her class and she confesses she barely had time to study.
She got admitted to Alliance Girls but ended up schooling at Loreto Limuru High School where she experienced a different life from what she was used to.
It is in Loreto that she tasted her first well-balanced meal and would eat like there is no tomorrow. This was a luxury for her.
“We would have rice and ndengu for lunch or rice, peas and meat and I had never known you could eat a carbohydrate, protein and vegetable in one meal!” she recalls saying the wealthy kids skipped meals much to her joy.
“I would pack my food and theirs into my gut until I would reach that delicate balance between pleasure and pain.”
Life in high school wasn’t easy for her; it was treacherous and she lost count of the number of times she was sent home for school.
She will never forget this day when she was sent home and her father took her back to school to make his case and he told the principal that he would work at the school.
He was assigned a masonry job at the school with no pay to reduce her outstanding fee. This touched Dr Edith that her elderly father would cycle from Ndeiya to her school every day to make sure she stays in school.
The embarrassment of her rugged-looking father working at her school did not keep her from pursuing her career dream in medicine. She was admitted to Moi University to study Medicine and while in her third year, she took up a locum job at the morgue where she earned a cool Ksh15,000.
She would work in the evenings from 5 pm to 8 am. It wasn’t hard for her because she had attended anatomy classes. The hardest part of the job was the lifting of corpses, some of which were too heavy for her and her colleague who was also a female medical student.
“They were paying Ksh. 15,000 a month. That was so much money. I was able to feed my family, pay fees for my younger siblings, buy school books and even save. I couldn’t work there throughout the year because of my classes but I worked every single holiday in campus.”
This helped her buy books needed for school and send money back home for her parents to take care of her siblings.
Eventually, she graduated and practised at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital where she took a Master’s degree in psychiatry and is also working on her doctorate.
She says that the hardships she went through to become who she is have shaped her life and is careful on how she brings up her children when she remembers how troubled her childhood was.