Home' Travel News : August-September 2016 Contents 28 travel news august/september 2016
august/september 2016 travel news 29
Charles has worked for the family for 45-years, initially as a farm hand. He now owns five
acres adjoining Ruth’s remaining three. Many of the Scott Kellie’s ex-farm workers now
farm their own portions of Mutamaini, apart from that given by Ruth to Mutumaini Hostel
for Disabled Children. Ruth started this in about 1979, concerned to see handicapped
children receiving no assistance or education. It began with a small clinic, the hostel
was built in 1986. It receives no government assistance relying on donations. Ruth was
Secretary and Treasurer for the Board although she has now retired.
A deaf and dumb boy, who Ruth has cared for since he was two, was helping with the
washing up and gardening. Charles’s daughter-in-law comes in twice weekly to wash
and cook. The family’s old cook died recently aged about 110; he’d been a batman
during the war in France and Burma. Charles’s son is night watchman, but together
with his brother, a pastor, it’s mainly Charles who takes care of Ruth. Somehow, thanks
to other people’s generosity, she scrapes together enough to assist her old retainers.
She doesn’t have a local doctor any more - she mentioned Dr. McLean who’d started
Molo hospital - nor any European neighbours.
Gillian and Barbara Lewen were childhood friends who Ruth visited on horseback, but
they’ve long gone. ‘I would never consider moving,’ Ruth said emphatically. She’s lived
here all her life and the old house still nurtures the gentle atmosphere left by a happy
childhood and self-contained family unit. Her parents never felt much need to socialise,
nor does she.
Half the Scott-Kellie land, across the river, was sold in 1978 the rest in 1996. Ruth’s
father suffered a stroke and died in 1984, while her mother, whom Ruth nursed during
her last years, died in 1994. Ruth was home alone during Molo’s 1997 tribal clashes,
although in 2007 she was forced to take refuge at the hostel along with at least a
thousand terrified Kenyans.
Does Ruth get lonely? ‘Occasionally,’ she admitted. But religion has been her sanctuary
of calm over the years, although she’s no longer physically fit enough to sit through
church services at the nearby PEFA church. Perhaps her hostel children filled any gaps
in her life - and she has a blind cat and four dogs.
Before we left Ruth mentioned a ‘problem’ Chief, a man whose secondary education
she’d paid for. Concerned, I got in touch again some months later and we met for lunch
in Nakuru while Charles went to see her lawyer. Travelling by matatu is becoming more
difficult for Ruth but today a lady in Nairobi donated her taxi fare. Ruth’s teeth are weak,
she explained, so she just wanted a little fruit salad. She was more concerned about
Charles’ and the taxi driver’s lunches.
A court case has been going since 1981, involving a “missing” file. When Mutamaini was
carved up for sale no title deeds were processed. This widely unpopular and allegedly
corrupt Chief eyeing the land is making things difficult: ‘if it was just myself I wouldn’t
worry, but it’s for all these families. I can’t let them down,’ says Ruth who struggles to
pay legal fees on behalf of families who’ve been buying the land (very cheaply) over a
period of 20-years.
Her Barclay’s Bank Molo branch closed - along with her account as she wasn’t deemed
sufficiently wealthy, in spite of having been a customer for half a century. Like all of
us, she’s grateful for Mpesa and mobile phones. Did she have a trustworthy lawyer, I
asked? She hoped so - the first one had turned out to be working for the Chief’s father,
the second had died in a plane crash, and hopefully this was third time lucky.
Ruth is a Kenyan, one who has contributed much to her countrymen. And what does
Kenya give back? No pension, no social security, no NHS (although she pays her
NHIF), although she has received the Head of State Commendation HSC Medal three
times for her work with disabled children. Now she only has the kindness of people like
Charles, without whom she would be totally alone.
(Should any readers wish to assist Ruth Scott Kellie please contact the writer through
the magazine. Click HERE)
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