At the mention of her name, she turns round to face you with innocent eyes and a hearty smile.
Like any other healthy 10-month-old baby, she is struggling to sit down on her own, something the caretakers say she started only recently.
|Baby Malaika who was beaten by a dog three days after birth is doing well at her new home.|
But when she raises her arms for you to pick her up, you notice that the right one is a stump, which tells of the tragedy that threatened to end her life soon after she was born.
Baby Malaika or Ika, as she is popularly known, is now used to her new home — Mji wa Salama.
The children’s home in Mombasa’s Tudor Estate has provided Ika with the love and security she needs to lead a normal life.
The scars on her nose and the left side of her face have almost cleared, with small spots taking the place of the numerous stitches the doctors used while treating the severe facial injuries she had sustained.
Mid-March last year, Malaika was admitted to Coast General Hospital with her body mutilated and her right arm bitten off just above the elbow. A dog had literally tried to eat her whole when she was abandoned in a forest in Bwagamoyo village, Rabai, days after being born.
Her cries of pain from the massive trauma she had sustained attracted a curious herdsman who rescued her and put her on the road to recovery.
Doctors had to amputate her arm as much of it had been eaten off and part of the remaining upper limb had been infected.
Even on leaving the hospital after two months of treatment, she had to take medication for a whole month when she moved to the children’s home in May.
Ika is a jovial soul, who, throughout the visit by the Nation team, happily showed off her two teeth.
She has been under the care of Ms Susan Wanjiku Kuria, the home’s administrator, as well as the other 10 caregivers.
Baby Ika has come to appreciate the other 60 children as her siblings.
“Ika has not had any problem settling down at the home. She has received much love from the other children, especially the older ones who came for the December holidays from boarding school,” said Ms Kuria.
Apart from the yellow discolouration of one of her lower milk teeth, Malaika is very healthy. Her clinic records show that she has had progressive weight gain. From an initial birth weight of 1.9 kilogrammes, the figure rose to 3.5 kilogrammes when she left hospital. She now weighs 7.4 kilogrammes.
The administrator is quick to add that the little girl does not suffer from any congenital disease and has not had any chronic illnesses, having had all her vaccinations.
“The discolouration could be due to the medication that she was receiving while undergoing treatment, but the doctors have assured us that after she loses the milk teeth the others will grow normally,” said Ms Kuria.
A well-wisher was able to secure medical cover for Malaika, enabling her to be treated at Mombasa Hospital, Aga Khan Hospital and Pandya Hospital, which are among the best health institutions in Mombasa County.
Ms Kuria said they have been receiving donations for the children at the home, with some specifically for Malaika. An account was opened in her name at Ecobank.
“All funds in the account are particularly used on her and the contributions can help even when she pursues further education. The home has classes from the kindergarten to Standard Eight, so wherever she will choose to go after that we will support her,” said Ms Kuria.
Ika enthusiastically uses her baby walker to move around, perhaps showing how eager she is to take her first steps of a life she was miraculously given.
When placed among the other six babies in the home, Ika blends in well and happily joins in their games.
With her left arm, she grasps the toys. She, however, struggles to lift the amputated limb.
“None of the children make fun of the fact that she has one hand. When she is alone, sometimes she tries to understand her situation. She lifts her left hand easily but when she tries to do the same with her right hand she looks confused,” said Ms Emily Mutemi, the matron of the children’s home.
A Canadian donor has promised to take care of all costs for Ika to get a prosthetic arm once she has grown older and the doctors have given the go-ahead.
Ms Kuria said that although none of Malaika’s family members has come to see her, they need to understand the legal issues surrounding a reunion.
“We have been making a follow-up on the mother and we were told that she was recently released from prison. She has, however, not seen her daughter to date. We don’t know what to do if she or any of the extended family members comes here to claim her,” she said.
The administrator said that she would consult with the county’s children officer because Malaika’s case is unique.
Ika’s mother, Ms Grace Mwadziwe Mwinga, was released from the Shimo la Tewa Prison where she was being held after she was charged in March last year with abandoning the child and exposing her to danger.