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Congrats on your big heart, Jamenya

Journalists rarely appear in positive stories.  If they are not in the news because the security forces harassed them, then they are part of some sinister high drama, as in the case of Citizen TV’s Jackie Maribe. The only time there are good reports about journalists is when one wins an award or is appointed to some post by the state or some other body – like Lands CS Faridah Karoney.

But a journalist can have a remarkable impact on society outside their professional mandate. That is the case of the Star reporter in Vihiga Joseph Jamenya. The scribe has been in the news since the start of the year when he announced he would run 400km from Vihiga to Nairobi to raise Sh60 million to build a centre for heart diseases.

Jamenya’s initiative was motivated by personal loss. He lost his father to a heart-related disease last year. “Two months later, my mother was diagnosed with heart blockage,” the journalist wrote.

“The Sh300,000 I had saved for farming was only enough for a few tests at a private hospital in Kisumu. She needed a further Sh600,000 for specialised treatment in Nairobi. Instead, she was admitted in Kisumu for one month, until the family ran out of money. She didn’t get the pacemaker but now survives on medication.”

Vihiga deputy governor Patrick Saisi flagged off Jamenya and his team at Vihiga County Referral Hospital on March 5. He crossed the finish line at the Railways headquarters, Nairobi, on April 8 – after a grueling race that tested his endurance and exposed him to numerous risks along the way.

Last week, Jamenya saw his dream come true. Vihiga governor Wiber Otchillo opened the Sh8 million cardiac centre at Vihiga Referral Hospital on Saturday, September 29, which is World Heart Day.

“My ailing mother and other heart patients can be assured of treatment at the cardiac unit,” Jamenya said at the function.

Governor Otchillo said the unit will offer treatment at a subsidized fee. It will be run by a specialist from Canada and will be upgraded at a cost of Sh40 million in January.

Congratulations, ndugu Jamenya!

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