Roy Lumbe @lumbe_roy
When we meet Jane Koech at her home in Mercy Njeri Village in Kiamunyi, Rongai, she is busy putting out some herbs to dry. She meticulously runs her fingers through the herbs to make sure they dry properly.
This 63-year-old woman famously known as ‘Gogo’ has helped many women conceive using the herbs, she gets from dried roots of indigenous trees. Her record is impeccable; 80 per cent of women she has treated have conceived.
We decided to take the 40-kilometre drive to the area and learn more on how the traditional herbs work and how the granny uses them to treat her patients. In her modest mud-walled house, far removed from the fancy fertility clinics in urban centres, Koech serves clients who flock there seeking help. By using traditional medicine to treat infertility, Koech has grown her networks far and beyond Nakuru where she says she has treated clients from as far as Machakos and Busia counties.
“Many of my clients come from far. Today, I have seen some from Busia and Machakos. I get my clients through referrals from others I have treated and they have had positive results,” says Koech.
With no educational background in medicine, Koech has successfully treated over 20,000 patients, mostly women who had trouble conceiving, by using only natural herbs.
Koech can see 10 to 20 clients every week and can handle over 50 clients on a busy week. She notes that she acquired the skills from her grandmother who used to walk with her around the forest giving her tips on specific herbs that can be used to treat ailments.
“I have treated over 20,000 clients; I have a book where they write their names. I did not go school. This is a calling I acquired from my grandmother. Sometimes I just get medicinal herbs through dreams and I go look for them,” she says. When a client arrives at her home the process involves an examination of the reproductive system, or the ailment one suffers followed by a series of massages before deciding on which medicine is best. After the examination, a range of herbal medicine is either inserted into the uterus or crashed and blended to be taken orally.
The massage process takes five days and two months of follow-up. She adds that several women have visited her with severe complications, among them barrenness, arthritis, miscarriages and nerves pains.
With18 years under her belt in the herbal field, Koech, who started her work in 2002, has attracted the attention of a lot men whom she says visit her home secretly to get medication for infertility. Koech notes that with many things concerning sexuality, women bear the brunt of infertility.
She says in the African traditional society, if a woman approached one year of marriage with no signs of a growing belly, she would rather have discreetly found another man to perform the deed, lest she brought shame to her husband.
Koech says some medicinal herbs she gives to her patients have specific directions on how to use them at home where they are required to come back for checkups depending on the type of medicine they are given and the duration it should take.
“The medicinal herbs are given to patients with instructions on how to go about them. They are then required to report back for check-ups so that I can record their progress,” says Koech.
Her services range from Sh100 to Sh1,000, depending on the drug. She says her joy is not to be paid, but to see to it that she assists her clients. The mother of five admits that the high and mighty in the community have visited her home for medication.
One of her clients Susan Kiragu a mother of two, says before she got pregnant, the doctors had told her she was barren and could not conceive, however, when she visited Koech she conceived after two months. She says that her husband was on the verge of marrying another woman after he discovered she cannot conceive.
“I came to Koech after doctors said I was unable to conceive and due to desperation some of my friends told me of Gogo saying she can cure my case, I was reluctant but I came after two months of the treatment I got pregnant, now am a proud mother of two,” Says a jovial Kiragu.
Another Peter Maina a beneficiary who was almost losing his life due to nerves complications admits that the therapy he was given by the 63 year old saved him.
“I am a living testimony that indeed the herbal medicine can help if embraced” says Kimani.
Use of herbal medicine is increasingly finding more relevance today, especially with the recognition that we are facing more challenges in the treatment of some medical conditions such as diabetes and cancer.