The founder Mrs. Susan Kerubo Ochwangi. comes from Kisii-Kenya, married; has one son who is now working at Kenya Ports Authority. She has four grand children Moses, Susan, Eunice and Elizabeth.
The Story of Mrs. Susan Kerubo Ochwangi the founder and director at Minto Children’s home Mombasa
” I became sick from breast cancer 1997. I was operated and my breast was chopped off. The doctor said that because the cancer had already spread, I would only live for one year. So where I was working, I was retired under medical ground.
“The medical test results reveal that you have breast cancer and cancer has Spread throughout the body” These were the heart wrenching words from doctor that sunk the spirit of Susan Kerubo Ochwangi. Coming from a family which bore no hit of cancer. she did not know how to react to this news.
It was in the year 1 997, 1 remember it with terrible exactness, as if it was yesterday when I developed a strange boil in my right breast. It was hard but only painful when squeezed. However, I started getting worried three years down the line it was not healing. The affected breast had started turning black, like soot and one day I decided to prick it and squeezed out whatever was inside, she narrates. “To my utter amazement, a lot of watery liquid flowed out and I pulled out a white thread like strand. I got scared. If this was still a boil, then it came with a unique presentation” adds Kerubo.
The following morning she woke up and headed to Aga-Khan Hospital Mombasa, Doctors plaza where she used to get medical services under the cover of Africa Tea Brokers, her employer of 22 years where she worked as a secretary.
“I explained to Dr. Lawrence Gathua the history of my affected breast after which he examined me. I was then sent to laboratory for a blood sample to screen for cancer,” she adds. “He suspected that I had cancer judging from the symptoms I manifested and he could not understand why I had taken too long to come for treatment,” she says. “Ignorance is a costly mistake. I knew about cancer screening that used to take place in hospital more so among the lactating mothers but I had stopped checking my breast the moment my son was weaned,” she adds.
She later scheduled for an operation at Mombasa Hospital where Dr. Gathua was to amputate the affected breast.
Her world came crashing when she was diagnosed with cancer. The news of her illness spread like bush fire and all sundry were in shock, thinking she was going to die sooner than later.
“Some came to visit me, to pray with me while others even shield away for fear of getting infected with now dreaded disease. I decided to live a day at a time and make the best of each moment that came,” she says with nostalgia.
Three months later Susan started attending Chemotherapy session at Coast General Hospital which were to last 9 months every month she would visit the hospital and spend the entire day on drip injection. This would mark the beginning of a torturous seven days.
“The process left me very weak that I could hardly walk. My son would have to take me home and tend to me for the first week after each chemo. I wished there was a better way to administer the treatment and at times even thought of being left alone to die,” she says.
She had gotten married to Wilfred Ochwangi and had her son in 1968. Twelve years later, her husband sought her consent to marry a second Wife because she was not able to bear more Children. “I was then working and able to sustain myself. The tree of us lived peacefully until his retirement when they relocated to Kisii. However, we were in good terms and he visits us occasionally,” she says.
By the eight month, Mrs. Ochwangi threw in the towel. She told that she could not proceed with treatment to the final month.
“The pain and general effects of the process were weighing down on me ; from hair loss, darkening of my skin and the fact that I had now become entirely dependent on my son for everything. I was ready for anything but no more Chemotherapy”
The doctor then recommended Tamoxifen tablets which she was to take daily forth rest of her life. She took the drug for six months until the day she decided to quit, Ill had sent my son to buy another dose of the drug and he happens to read the medical insert for the first time and he was not amused with long term side effects therein, narrates Susan.
She proceeded to consult her doctor and affirmed that the drug was not meant to heal but to just sustain her because the cancer had spread all over the body. After a lot of research and consultation the doctor recalled her a week later and told her to take an alternative remedy.
“He instructed me to take a lot of warm water every morning and hour later eat combination of raw fruits and vegetables consists tomatoes, carrots, cabbages, onions and cucumber. I was also to avoid red meat and stressful situations like plague and instead eat white meat,” says Mrs. Ochwangi Susan.
This she did religiously and it became a part of her daily routine, to date.
“After seven years of heading new treatment I was grateful to God that 1 was alive and healed of breast cancer. Many had thought I would not live beyond one year from the time I was diagnosed with cancer,” exclaims Mrs. Ochwangi.
“The scar that remained after my breast was cut is permanent reminder of my past years of anguish and pain. I vowed to give thanks to God by devoting my entire life to helping orphaned children,” explains Mama Susan.
“I shared this Idea with two women who were my prayer partners, in Kizingo SDA church in Mombasa and we started off by sending our contribution in terms of food and school fees to homes where orphaned children lived with their relatives but we soon realized that ours was an exercise in futility,” she says.
‘The children were continuously malnourished and some never attended school because the funds we donated were used to benefit the guardians of these children, she sighs.
The other women got caught up with their lives and could not remain on course supporting these children. Mama Susan, single handedly, then decided to rent house in Likoni and she started SAVEDA Children home in 2004 which was later renamed Minto children’s home. ‘Minto’ is a word in Kisii dialect which means our home.
“We started off with two boys and four girls but later on in 2006 shifted to an only girls home following a government directive that required one to concentrate on one genders if one did not have adequate facilities and finances to cater for both genders,” says the director and the founder of the institution mama Susan.