“Why did you choose to become a doctor?”
That’s a question I used to run away from; because I had a rehearsed speech about helping people, loving women, making a difference and what not. Big words with broad meaning.
With time it started to sound like an old poem. Something you recite but don’t internalize. Because before you enter into the world of medicine, you imagine that the term ‘helping people’ is as basic as holding someone’s hand as they cross the street.
When you are finally in, your reason is no longer linear. You find yourself working a shift on Christmas day and the person you really want to help is yourself — to a piece of chicken. When you are seated in a consultation room for twelve straight hours with no break, you leave asking, “Just why did I do this to myself?”
It has taken me years to realize that the reason that I chose to be a medic is like a living thing. That changes, grows, waxes, wanes. I enjoy talking to people, solving puzzles. And tomorrow I will enjoy cutting into someone’s abdomen; the next I will enjoy delivering a baby.
This is what I told Joy when she asked me what my why is.
The irony of Joy though, was she was anything but joyful. She sat before me twiddling her fingers as if she was trying to rub off her fingerprints. Her head was bent forward the entire time we spoke and I had to inch very close to her to hear her. Her words came out soft as cotton and fell at her feet. I was barely able to catch them.
We had long spaces of silence that I tried to fill with jokes even if I don’t own a single witty bone in my body.
So I reverted to the routine conversation starter for any school going child.
“What do you want to become when you grow up?”
She shrugged her shoulders, her eyes still stuck to the floor.
“Is it that you saw a nurse and liked her?”
“I have never met anyone in the health sector. You are the first.”
She looked up for a split second then when our eyes met she forced hers down again.
“Is there blood? In your line of work?” She continued.
She gasped. The sound felt odd coming from her still frame.
“I fear the sight of blood. I think I would run away if ever I saw someone bleeding.”
I wanted to say, then you need a plan B. But I didn’t. Instead I asked her where she wants to do her nursing degree.
“Mount Kenya University.”
“How did you know about it?”
Another shoulder shrug.
“Most of us just pick careers based on what you read in books or a comment a teacher makes. We have no idea what these people do, what the work entails, what the challenges are.”
That was the longest sentence that came from her lips.
“So what you are saying is you have never had a career day? People coming to talk to you about what they do?”
“Joy,” I tried to lift her head with my voice, “if you could ask for anything right now what would it be?”
“To meet more people like you and to get someone to help pay my fees so that I can be a Nurse.”
Folks, If you have been following this series, these are stories about nine girls who are in a mixed Secondary School in Maparasha.
Four of them are in form 4 and are sitting for their final exams in March 2022. The other five are in Form two and desperately want to stay in school. It’s either that or they are given away to be married.
Since the ratio of boys to girls is so high the school has been re-designated to a boys school.
This means the girls need to move to a girls school but their parents cannot afford the fees.
For this reason I have started an M-Changa campaign to raise funds for the Five girls for the remaining two years of school in the neighbouring girls school.
Please help me help a girl go to school.
I will also call upon anyone willing to come with me to hold a career day for the entire school.
Click on the link to the m-changa account: https://tinyurl.com/yfen9qk7