• Faith is one of six children in a Baringo North family that works on farms, begs for food.
• Village elders say they try to help, provide food, account set up to help Faith.
Faith Jeptui is 17 years old but she looks like a four-year-old.
Her mother Monicaa Rerimoi, 40, and stepfather Charles Babin, 45, have five other children in Sesoi village, Saimo-Soi, Baringo North.
"She was healthy and sound when I gave birth but when she was three she developed rare health complications," Rerimoi told journalists who visited on Wednesday.
Her malnourished state has undermined her physical and mental development. Her mother has taken her to hospitals and herbalists but no disease has been diagnosed. She pleads for help.
She said the child’s father left her, remarried and says the child is not his biological daughter.
“I tried several times to engage him to help feed and raise her but instead he threw her away twice and abandoned her in the bush," she said.
Her husband Babin fears the condition resulted from malnutrition.
“The girl’s condition is so rare because she doesn’t grow. Every time she takes a meal, she gets hungry again in 30 minutes," he said.
Babin said she needs a comprehensive health checkup to determine the cause of the problem and provide as food supplements.
“I am not able to provide all that for her," he said.
He said he approached the girl's father and begged him to take care of his "own blood. Instead, he turned on me," he said.
The family cares for the girl in their rickety grass-thatched mud-walled house.
Both the jobless parents rely on menial jobs, working on farms to feed their children.
"I sometimes approach neighbours and well-wishers for food," Rerimoi said.
Sessoi village elder Benjamin Chesaina said the family deserves urgent humanitarian assistance.
“As a community, we have tried everything possible to fundraise for the girl’s medication and assembled some little food for the family,” he said.
"We are praying that a Good Samaritan will save the innocent girl," Chesaina said. If she were healthy, she could have completed secondary school.
Malnutrition is on the rise in Baringo, as many families cannot afford food in the arid and semi-arid region.
Baringo Health chief officer Dr Gideon Toromo said many children are suffering from acute Protein Energy Malnutrition (PEM) caused by lack of a proper diet.
Toromo said many children are suffering but most cases go unreported.
He also cited the darkening inflammation of the children's skin as a symptom of lack of magnesium. Such children have low immunity and are prone to diarrhoea and pneumonia, he said.
Malnourished children weigh less than they should because they lack proteins and nutrients. They are prone to infections normally treated with antibiotics that don't address the underlying cause.
Most pregnant women don't attend clinics before giving birth so it is difficult to identify problems early.
After Faith's story went viral, a community-based organisation, Baringo Mentors, created an account for the girl.
PAY BILL: 4021667
ACC NO: Jeptui
(Edited by V. Graham)