Surviving a mugging to make an impact

By Kinya Kaunjuga

A patient is served by a pharmacist (behind bars for security). He is using BandaGo on his laptop computer, a paperless clinic management system.

When he was attacked by muggers in broad daylight during a clinic visit in Mathare – known as one of the roughest, most dangerous parts of Nairobi – it dawned on Mike that being a college athlete was actually an asset for his work at Banda Health.

Mike is Banda Health’s “implementer.” He’s the guy that makes sure clinics in communities like Mathare have what they need to get up and running when they make the jump from paper to digital with BandaGo.

That day, it was a good thing he is also a six-foot-tall, broad-shouldered, former high school and college soccer player.

Mike (far right) with a healthcare team at a clinic.

As he made the trek up the hill from the clinic towards the only spot a taxi cab would pick up passengers, Mike noticed a motorbike descending the road much faster than all the others milling around.

In less than a few seconds, this particular motorbike seemed to be heading straight towards him, pelting down at full speed. Instinctively, he began to assess which part of the curbside he should jump onto to avoid the impending collision.

He heard a loud roar from the bike’s engine and felt the heat of its front tire beside his leg. He realized he no longer had time to avoid being crushed. He prepared to face the impact by doubling over. Suddenly, he felt someone grab the strap of the bag on his shoulder. Just as swiftly, the same hand began to pull the strap, jerking him violently, and bringing him close enough to feel the attacker’s hot breath on his ear.

He tightened his own grip on the bag which was tucked under him and spun in the opposite direction from the bike. His strength and quick full-body turn caught the attacker off guard and the bike veered sideways then sped off.

As he straightened up to look at the disappearing bike, he noticed there were two riders and the passenger was stuffing a blade back in his shirt. As he looked around him, the merchants were still arranging and dusting their wares alongside the road in readiness for the evening buyers.

Roadside vendors preparing to sell to the rush-hour crowd. They are fondly referred to as mama mbogas (“veggie mothers” in Swahili).

The incident had only taken a few seconds but Mike, who had just welcomed his firstborn baby a few weeks earlier, was deeply relieved to have survived the mugging attempt unscathed. He continued to the top of the hill and hailed a cab home.

Mike holding Gabe outside their home.

When Mike reflects on that day, he says he continues to learn why and how the staff who run the clinic in the “valley slum” put themselves at risk every day to care for patients.

The road where Mike walks to reach the clinic in Mathare.

If you’d like to read about how it feels to treat patients in dangerous places and how some of the bravest people do it, check out all the Banda Health stories at www.bandahealth.org. Also, look out for the upcoming interview with the owner and staff at Uzima White Medical Clinic where Mike was that day.

Empower Health Workers. Leverage Technology.

Thank you for being a part of this journey with Banda as we develop healthcare technology solutions for clinicians who treat patients in some of the poorest parts of the world.

We couldn’t do it without you!

Kinya Kaunjuga

Kinya Kaunjuga

Kinya is a Texas A&M alumni with a degree in Journalism and Economics. She says, "I love doing things that matter!"