Meet Woman So Passionate About Caring for Dead Bodies

  • An image of Nyeri County Referral Hospital signpost File
  • Most Kenyan job-seekers, especially women, shy away from working in a mortuary.

    However, it is not the case for one Eve Ngima, 34, who feels so proud of being the lead and only female mortician at Nyeri County Referral Hospital, the busiest facility in Mount Kenya region. 

    Ngima, who dreamt of being a journalist but was unable to pursue her studies beyond secondary school, states that she is accustomed to the humming freezers, the closing of drawers, and the acidic odor of formalin.

    She was driven to take care of the dead after her mother succumbed to breast cancer in 2004. This spurred her to give the deceased the respect they deserve.

    Eve Ngima doing her rounds in the mortuary

    "I would view my mother's body in this mortuary and I did not like the way they were handling bodies. That is when I decided not I wanted to work here and make it clean," Ngima told the Nation

    After her mother's death, she applied for the mortician's job but was asked to think about it. She was also rejected in a private hospital in Nyeri due to her gender when such a job opportunity arose.

    She finally got a breakthrough that same year. She attended an interview which had 18 men and only two women. 

    "I had tried to get jobs in different mortuaries, but it was hard. I finally got the job and I have never looked back. One of the reasons I took this job was because of the sanitation of the public mortuary. Very dirty and smelly. That's what am working towards changing in the Nteri mortuary," Ngima highlighted.

    Her normal routine involves receiving bodies, preserving, preparing them for post-morterm, cleaning and dressing them up, and finally releasing them to the next-of-kin for burial. The bodies are from accident victims and patients who die while being treated in hospital.

    "The process of embalming takes up to an hour depending with the number of bodies we receive in a day," Ngima reveals.

    However, it is not an easy tale, as most people become afraid when she narrates her experience with dead bodies.

    Those close to her say she was out of her mind taking the job. Some guests even refuse to eat meat in her home, for unknown reasons. She has even been barred from attending some functions on grounds that she may carry spirits of the dead with her. 

    Ngima though cannot be broken down by such incidents as her biggest motivation are those who understand that through the job, she pays her children's fees, her bills and those of her family. 

    An inside view of Nyeri County Referral Hospital