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Teenager tells of loss to deadly home brew

Until two months ago Kenyan teenager Grace had never known one substance could cause so much misery…

That was until the devastating effects of the illicit brew, chang'aa came into her life.

Now as the drinking dens spread closer to her home, she lives in constant fear of friends or relatives going blind from drinking chang’aa, the name of which translates as ‘kill me quick’.

At least 23 people died and many more were blinded after drinking a drink thought to be laced with methanol in Nairobi's Kibera shanty town at the end of July.
Grace’s mother, Bretta Musangi was one of them.

The last few days were the worst, says Grace, who along with her brothers and sisters, now lives with her grandparents and works at their shop. She now has the twin burden of looking after her brothers and sisters aged from nine to 15 and caring for her aging grandparents.

The most affected is my grandmother and she can’t talk because of shock,” she told the east African country’s The Daily Nation newspaper.

Grace says her mother was an habitual drinker who couldn’t pass by her favourite pub every morning.

"I constantly pleaded with her to stop drinking but she only promised to do so after I gave her Sh20," Grace says.

Before she split up with Grace’s father 10 years ago, Grace says, her mother was a church goer and sang in the church choir.

"She was devastated by the separation and she turned to alcohol," Grace says.

She says the last time she saw her mother, she was on her way to hospital and "We simply waved at each other, and that was the last time I saw her alive," Grace remembers.

On her way home, Grace saw people hustled together talking about how people were going blind from drinking an illegal brew. Two days later, she was woken up by an uncle and a friend. "People died from the chang'aa they drank yesterday and your mother is one of them," her friend told her.

Grace went to where here mother lay dead in a friend's house.

"It was devastating to see she died so miserably, whereas she had a family that loved her irrespective," she says.

Grace’s mother is said to have visited the mortuary to confirm which of her drinking mates had died from the killer brew. She asked what kind of brew they drank and went and drank it herself, says Grace.

Hayley attribution