Collins Kiprono shows his back where the bullets ripped into him before being embedded inside his chest cavity. /KNA
Life for 36-year-old Collins Kiprono, a resident of Telanet village has never been the same since December 26, 2007.
That day, he was hit in the back by stray bullets in Kericho town as police were dispersing demonstrators in the wake of the 2007/2008 post-election violence.
Kiprono who has been living with two bullets lodged in his chest for the last 12 years, is now appealing for medical and financial assistance to aid his deteriorating health.
The father of two daughters who earns a living roasting maize at Kapsoit market testifies that his health is worsening and he fears he has only a few years to live.
In an interview at his home, Kiprono with tears flowing wonders how he will support his family now that for the last two years he has been coughing blood and experiences laboured breathing.
With the bullets lodged in his chest, he asserts that his condition will not permit him to live longer to see his young family enjoy a better life and points out a spot at his shamba where he will be laid to rest.
“I don’t care anymore..anytime I can die,” a teary Kiprono said.
He adds that he seeks solace in his favourite song ‘MunguniMunguTu’ by Christopher Mwahangila.
Kiprono narrates how on that day he had just paid a visit to his grandmother’s home at Kipchimchim village on the outskirts of Kericho town.
He decided to walk to Kericho town heading back to his home.
On reaching Kericho town, he met a crowd of people and was unsure what was going on, though curious but the sight of police officers brought him to the reality that all was not well and immediately he started running with no clear direction of where he was going.
He adds that he suddenly started sweating profusely with sudden body weakness likening the incident to that of having a heavy stone landing on him.
He was not sure whether he was alive or dead but the sight of blood on his torn shirt made him cry out for help while lying on the pavement near the Kericho County Referral Hospital mortuary gate.
Good Samaritans rushed him to Kericho county Referral Hospital using the mortuary entrance and he was immediately taken to theatre and later admitted to a ward at the facility.
He stayed there for three days before being discharged but still with the bullets lodged in his chest as the doctors maintained that any operation to remove them would have resulted in his death.
“I did not realise I had been shot and two bullets were lodged in my chest. I only got to know this from the doctors attending to me while I was admitted at the hospital,” Kiprono said.
His family members opted to take him to Tenwek Mission hospital for a second medical opinion.
After spending only a week at the medical facility, Kiprono underwent X-ray whose results confirmed his worst fears; any operation conducted to remove the bullets would be very risky.
The doctors advised him to attend medical checkups on a regular basis a thing Kiprono admits that he has not been committed to due to his low income.
A medical discharge summary from Tenwek Mission Hospital and dispensaries confirms that he has bullets lodged in his body.
His back confirms the same, two distinct permanent marks clearly show the bullets having been directed from behind before getting embedded inside his chest cavity.
“I have never gone to school and I had ambitions that my children will grow better than I did but I have never disclosed to them my condition. My wife is soon to deliver our third child,” a teary Kiprono said.
His expectant wife Caroline Chepkoech, aged 27 years, discloses that she met Kiprono in 2010 and decided to spend the rest of her life with the man of her dreams despite knowing too well that life with him would be full of challenges as he had two bullets lodged in his body.
Chepkoech adds that she is worried as her husband, the family’s breadwinner has been coughing a lot of blood and has given up all hope of ever getting well again.
“I am always worried about his fate, but I believe God will answer our prayers that he gets better,” an overwhelmed Chepkoech said.
Kiprono the first-born in a family of three lives with his grandparents.
“I am always worried about my fate and it is not easy to live with bullets in your body,” he said.