MANYALA, Kenya — It wasn’t unusual to see a 10-year-old boy in the dry, oppressive heat of Kenya playing outside in a long-sleeve shirt. In fact, it’s not unusual at all to see Kenyans on any given scorching day wearing shawls, wool caps or puffy winter coats.
But Wycliffe’s long-sleeve shirt succeeded in hiding what is possibly his greatest tribulation — massive burns, still not healed after several years — covering his right arm and side.
It was a Sunday in March 2013 when the entire family heard the screams, Wycliffe’s father, Godfrey Obwamu told TheBlaze during an interview earlier this month from his humble home.
With wooden chairs and mismatched couches lining the dirt walls of the home, Wycliffe’s parents, sisters, grandmother and cousins sat around the room, quietly listening to the tale of how Wycliffe became “different” — and probably not for the first time. An outdated calendar and a couple of faded family photos hung on the brown walls for decoration; chickens and cats languidly wandered in and out of the house’s large front room.
Speaking deliberate but broken English, Obwamu said the entire family was home at the compound as children played outside that day. Wycliffe, in particular, was playing with a neighbor friend when he got too close to a burning bush and fell.
“I heard the child crying and screaming. When I walked out, all his body was just burning. It took around 15 minutes [to put out the fire],” Obwamu said.
As Wycliffe’s mother, Miriam Nyakoa, rushed to save her son and put out the blaze, Obwamu said he “ran all over, just to find someone with a vehicle” to take Wycliffe to a doctor.
At the time, Wycliffe — affectionately called Wicky by friends — was 5-years-old, happy and loved attending school. He spent the next year in several hospitals, with burns covering his back, side and arms. He was unable to eat or drink on his own, lay on his back or even sleep as the burns were so intense.
“We thought that eventually he would die,” Obwamu said.