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The Body, And Soul

Updated: 3 days ago





There is that gnawing feeling that we are far more than what we believe ourselves to be. Maybe it’s time to believe the gnawing. Craig D. Lounsbrough


Every year around the month of September, the Agricultural Society of Kenya hosts the Nairobi Show. It was every child’s Kenyan version of Disney Land — an event we all hoped to attend at least once in a lifetime. *Gathoni was no exception; a 3rd born in a family of 4 children; all born within a span of five years. In the era before kidnappers and pedophiles were born, her dad — God rest his soul — took the four of them to the show. When they got to the entrance he said, “Now we can’t hang out together the whole day. You kids will not like what I like and I definitely will not like what you like so here is the deal. You are all over 18. Repeat after me.”

“We are over 18.” They said in unison even if the eldest and only boy was barely 12.

“Here is some money for snacks and the slides. Run along, stay together and let’s meet at the city clock at 4pm sharp. Understood?”

“Yes dad.” They bobbed their heads in obvious excitement. And off they went. Four innocent children, unsupervised, hand in hand to hang out at the show. They had the time of their lives and at four pm they were back at the clock as agreed. Alive and unharmed.


This was how their dad brought them up; a lecturer who taught Journalism at The University. He was an outspoken, liberal thinker. A Pan-Africanist who wasn’t fixated on ideologies. Once Gathoni asked him, “Dad, why don’t we have English names like our friends?”

“Are you English?”

“No.”

“Good. You are Kikuyu. That is why you have kikuyu names.”

He taught his children never to live life in the box people expect of you. Whenever they discussed careers, he encouraged them to do whatever it is they desired to do as long as they had thought it through. His form of discipline was never by the cane. That was left to their mum. He preferred a sit down and rational conversation with them if they veered off the straight and narrow.


When the time came for Gathoni to fill her career forms in preparation for college, she was not sure about what she wanted to do. Journalism was somewhere on her list but was not offered as a first degree. She thought of a Bachelor’s in Computer science but was still undecided. Because time was running out, a friend advised her to write Medicine as her first choice.

“If you qualify for Medicine, then you will have qualified for everything else and you can later change to what you want to do.” So she chose it and a few months later when the results were out, it chose her. Yet she still remained unsure. An attempt to try to change to another course was met by several interventions from her mom. Relatives were summoned from far and wide to talk some sense into her.


So it stuck. Besides it was around that time that Ben Carson’s ‘Gifted hands’ was trending and every young person wanted to be a Neurosurgeon. She was no exception. But med school was no walk in the park. The first year was gruelling. Yet she couldn’t quit. She didn’t know how to. Growing up she had been taught that, ‘No one puts his hand to the plow and looks back.’ So she decided to see it through. The five years came and went and she excelled and graduated — a Doctor.


Medical Internship centres were assigned through a secret ballot system. It was a process that felt like a presidential election. Woe unto you if you balloted and did not get your first choice. It would become open season and you could get tossed to areas that needed a compass to trace. She didn’t get her first choice and by default ended up in the last place she wanted to be; The National Referral Hospital. After spending three of the five years of medical school in this hospital, she felt she needed a change of scenery. And because of the huge workforce it had, it was easy for an intern to slip through the cracks because they were at the bottom of the food chain. She later learned it was the best place to be. She sharpened her ability to work without supervision; a value her dad had already inculcated in her. She developed an internal motivation to do what needed to be done and learnt the value of hard work. Sure, it was easy to get away with just giving the bare minimum but she refused to stop at the bare minimum.


Still, no matter how hard she worked, it soon became as clear as day how broken the health system was. She was just a small cog in the organizational wheel and there were so many processes that went into running such a mammoth institution. Slowly a vision was conceived in her. She started to ponder about how health institutions were run and what processes went into running these organisations. With each clinical rotation she went through, her vision became clearer and was cemented in her mind. Clinical medicine would be a means, not an end to pursue a career in Health systems. Finally she felt like the pieces of the puzzle were coming together. So much so that even when she was posted to Yala after completing her year long internship and it didn’t work out, she resigned from the government.


As she handed in her resignation with one hand, the other hand applied for an MBA at Daystar University. Here she found exactly what she was looking for. Her mind was opened up to all the possibilities that existed if she combined her medical knowledge with what she was learning. In time, she landed a job with one of the major private hospitals in town and wasted no time in expressing her interest in health management, with her superiors. A position was soon created for someone to run the hospitals’ satellite clinics and she was offered the job. The first of it’s kind. A job she loved where she never worked a day in her life. She had found her niche. Her passion. Overseeing clinical functions and seeing her decisions come to life. Yet she still had a gnawing feeling that had become her shadow over the years. Was this it? Had she arrived? After working in her dream job for four years, it was time to leave. She left for something; only at that time she did not know what.


She stayed out of work for a while trying to figure out what was next when someone spoke to her about a program at their church. It was a one year internship Pastoral program where one fully served at the church. Service in church was not new to her. She had been involved in various ministries throughout the years. But the thought of hanging her corporate hat refused to take flight. How would she and her children survive? She battled these thoughts in her mind. And the more she did, the more she felt drawn to it. And after a lot of soul searching and prayer, she took the leap. Literally walked off the cliff in faith.


In that year she was deconstructed. Everything she thought she knew was turned upside down. Life changed. She came from being a boss, a decision maker, who had full days to a very quiet existence. One that many didn’t understand. Why would she walk out of a well paying prestigious job to serve in the church? She was not sure she understood it herself. The first three months were so trying she wanted to leave but, ‘ when you put your hand to the plow…’ So she stuck it out and after nine months, she was posted to the mission field in Turkana for her final three months.


Several things happened while she was in Turkana. The mist cleared and she began to get some insight. First, that nothing she had done to this point had been in vain. She had spent years learning about the physical man and now she was in a place learning about the spiritual man. Her worlds began to mash together; medical school taught her how to think, how to interrogate symptoms and eventually come up with a diagnosis.

This skill became invaluable in her interaction with people in the church and the mission field. How to talk to people and pick out the struggles they were going through.

Her experience in learning about organisations and the systems helped her learn about the church as an organisation. She saw the common thread that ran through all that she had done upto this point in her life.


She is now in Bible school and running the medical clinic there. Healing both body and soul. And no you don’t sit in a class the whole day and read your Bible. It’s a whole different world of reading and learning languages and learning to write and speak. She doesn’t know where God will lead her after this but she knows faith is all she needs.


Whoever thought that when she chose the stethoscope, she would end up with the Bible in her hand instead.


 

Dr Gathoni( which is not her real name) decided to remain anonymous.

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4 Comments


patricia.oketch
patricia.oketch
Aug 04, 2020

Bravo Nkatha

Hope she enjoys her new service to humanity.

👏🏾👏🏾

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Love her tenacity and how she keeps going forth. 'When you put your hand on the plough.....👏👏👏

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risper oliech
risper oliech
Aug 04, 2020

Brilliant. She cannot go wrong with Bible in hand.

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Wekesa Barasa
Wekesa Barasa
Aug 04, 2020

Heheh, interesting....... ASK show, Ben Carson, balloting...r.that is a much as it could get....good memories about the show, something I could die for and looked forward to trekking 20km just to be counted..... blessings 'Nkatha' an interesting mix of service to humankind

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