Muriel Kinyanga, palliative care nurse at Taita Taveta Hospice in southern Kenya tells us about her patient:

A community health volunteer told me about a lady in her village who was suffering with severe pain. She lived two kilometres away and since we have no vehicle we walked as we enjoy the beautiful view of Mount Kilimanjaro. On arrival a stench hit us. In the house a lady called Miriam was laying on a mattress on the floor under a mosquito net full of flies. She was groaning in pain and looking in a mirror at a wound on her cheek. An old lady by her side looked tired and helpless. 

Miriam shows nurse Muriel the medicines given to her by the traditional healer


“Miriam had lost weight and was pale, dehydrated and complaining of pain. They had visited a traditional medicine man who gave her a concoction of traditional medicine. Of course, her health deteriorated day by day. We suspected her wound was cancerous and referred Miriam for a biopsy. We gave her liquid morphine and paracetamol for her pain. We cleaned the wound and organized for her community health volunteer to visit daily to dress the wound.

“A few days later we again found her in severe pain. Her condition had deteriorated. The medicines we gave were intact. Miriam told us the traditional medicine man had warned against using the drugs given by the hospice. We informed them of the risks of using traditional medicines and referred her to our social worker for counselling.

“When we visited a week later Miriam and her mother welcomed us with smiles. Miriam’s face looked brighter. To my surprise they had followed their prescription to the letter. Our team’s daily visits had given them hope. The smell had gone, she was pain free and now could happily invite her friends and church members to visit her.

“Three days later we received sad news of Miriam’s death. We visited the family to offer bereavement support. They told us that Miriam died in her sleep but they were grateful for the care the palliative care team provided.”

Lack of cancer awareness, mis-information and late diagnosis present many challenges for extremely under-resourced Kenyan hospices. Just £50 provides regular home visits and medicines to a patient over 3 months. Please DONATE HERE and help us improve the lives of those in need with compassionate home-based palliative care.

Miriam’s story
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