MITCHELLVILLE, Iowa -- "It feels complete. I can feel like my family`s complete again, because we were pretty much like split apart with him being far," said Joan Namachemo, Mike Wasike's wife.
Surrounded by family and friends, 39-year-old Mike Wasike is back in Iowa, just in time for the holidays. "Actually, if he didn`t come back last week, I would be in Oklahoma today. I was planning to drive down yesterday until like January 2, so this means a lot to us. This is our Christmas gift this year," said Namachemo.
Wasike arrived at the Mitchell Village Care Center in Mitchellville last Tuesday; he had been undergoing therapy at a rehabilitation clinic in Tulsa, Oklahoma. "I had to plan a trip either once a month or twice a month and it would take me like nine hours to see him," said Namachemo.
Namachemo and the couple's two kids, Sandrah and Melvin, live in Des Moines, and having to travel to Oklahoma to see Wasike was not easy. Having Wasike closer to home makes a world of difference. "It meant I had to pull the kids out of school. I had to get out of work to do that. Honestly, it was just so hard for me and the kids and everybody involved and for Mike too. He was missing us a lot," said Namachemo.
It wasn't always like this. Wasike and Namachemo came to America from Kenya to pursue the American dream, and they were well on their way. "I went to DMU. I had just finished school. I was so excited you know. I`m going to get into my profession and work and raise the kids, but I had to give up that," said Namachemo. Wasike, who has a master`s degree in finance and worked as a credit analyst for Wells Fargo, was driving home from his second job on February 26, 2013, when he encountered a truly horrific act of violence.
Wasike was in the wrong place at the wrong time. At the intersection of 50th St. and Twana Drive on the Northwest side of Des Moines, Wasike was carjacked by three teenagers; Leshaun Murray, Terrance Cheeks Jr. and Kenneth Barry. Wasike was severely beaten and left for dead. Murray struck Wasike in the head with a handgun. Wasike's brain was injured, and as a result, he lost the ability to talk. "He`s been unable to eat too. He`s on a feeding tube, and he`s not able to walk, so he needs pretty much a lot of support," said Namachemo.
Doctors have told Namachemo that Wasike's condition has has plateaued, and this is how he's going to remain for the rest of his life, but despite that bleak prognosis, there are glimmers of hope, and Wasike is showing hopeful signs of improvement. "His vision has really improved. I`m really impressed about that, because initially we really thought he was blind. He was not able to track anything for almost one year, and it was bad, but right now when you walk in , you basically can see, he can look at you. You can tell, and he`s able to point out some stuff on the pictures, so that`s why I`m keeping my hopes high. You never know what might turn around," said Namachemo. "We can’t give up. We are still hopeful that he’s gonna turn around and get better."
If you would like to help Wasike and his family, you can donate to The Greater Des Moines Neighbor to Neighbor Foundation. For more info, click here.