By Linah Musangi
4th Feb 2018: “The deafening sounds persisted and what happened within 45 minutes was scary, until now the memories of that day are still live in my mind. I’m always scared by sounds of any falling object even if it’s the size of a tea spoon,” said Gladys.
Gladys Munyambu a middle aged woman from Wikitoo village in Musuani location, Mwingi west constituency narrates the ordeal she went through in the hands of terrorists on July 1 2012. Though she survived, that day her life took a drastic turn and to the worst for that matter, following the al shabaab attack in a Garissa Church
That day she woke up as usual and prepared her family for church. They all went and her husband took his position of ushering in worshippers at Garissa AIC church at around 10.00 am but immediately after they settled they heard something falling at the rooftop but ignored it, thinking it was the Somali children who used to throw stones at the church roofs while playing.
According to Gladys, suddenly she saw two masked men enter the church and started spraying them with bullets and hurled grenades at them. She witnessed one of her friend who died together with her child being shot but luckily one of her kid survived. It is while Gladys was trying to escape through the window when she was shot on the leg, up to date she wonders how she found herself outside the church.
She became unconscious only to regain consciousness at Garissa general hospital’s emergency room. Her children were shouting at her “mummy, mummy wake up please,” She saw them and her husband beside them, at least now she knew they were safe.
Her husband escaped death miraculously since he was at the church compound and hid behind a tree when he saw the al shabaab entering the church. Fortunately, they always missed him after spraying bullets towards his direction.
Gladys thanks God that she lived to see her children but she isn’t happy with the Government for not helping them in any way since then. They are now languishing in poverty due to expensive medical bills which have been imposed on them.
” I was shot on my foot and my fingers fell on the ground. The other part was held by a hanging flesh. I bled and vomited profusely due to toxins from the grenade. Doctors said if I didn’t vomit the toxins would have killed me, leave alone the injuries. The medics in Garissa did skin grafting instead of tissue grafting,” she added.
She lied in that hospital for three months and two weeks and later referred to Kijabe mission hospital. Doctors in Kijabe said she was supposed to undergo tissue grafting but not skin. She has since undergone 11 main surgeries and there are several others remaining. There are bullet and grenade pellets still stuck in her leg and the medics have told her that they are stuck in her nerve, that’s why she has to undergo all those operations.
“I am almost selling my house. Having undergone eleven main surgeries and unknown number of surgeries remaining, I need more than Ksh. 200,000 for tissue grafting in my leg alone. I don’t know what the other operations will cost,” says
Gladys tells us that going to Kijabe alone without any treatment costs her sh 60,000. Consultation fee alone is sh5000, you have to see another Doctor Who will assess you for sh 10000 then he sends you to another Doctor Who will deal with you and he can charge more than sh30,000. When you spend a night you use for Ksh. 1000 per head for accommodation, woe to you if had been accompanied by somebody else, it’s really hectic and stressful. She bought a foot supporting device for sh 20,000 in 2012 but it’s now wearing off and she is sure it must be costing more than sh 30,000 now.
“The government should support us and compensate us since we have spent up-to the last coin. The government should chip in quickly. We are now looking upon God for a miracle. Anyone willing to help me and the other survivors please help us. My husband is a casual labourer and I’m just a housewife. Before then we used to work together but my condition can’t allow me,” she added.
Peninna Muli Kituku a mother of two and a survivor of the same attack currently living at Musuani village in Mwingi West constituency said it’s like there was a conflict before the attack. Three weeks before the attack the pastor had told them there would be no receiving of phone calls in church which was okay. One week later a Somali man claimed that the church dogs had eaten his goats, a week later, the more than 10 dogs were poisoned and they all died. The dogs used to give security to the church plus two other policemen. It was a calculated move since they knew they will enter unnoticed for there will be no dog to bark at them and that they will only start shooting at their targets The following week the alshabaab attack came.
That fateful day, I saw two masked men enter the church and started shooting at us. They had already snatched guns from our policemen and killed them. There were loud bangs all over the roof top and the church due to grenades blasts.
She then fainted after heavy objects fell on her peeling off a chunk of flesh from her leg. She later regained consciousness at Garissa hospital emergency room and found so many other people screaming in pain and others looking for their loved ones. Peninna stayed at the hospital for three months and two weeks. She has since then been attending clinics at Garissa but she was referred to Kenyatta national hospital for surgery to remove the grenade pellets in her legs.
“I’m in much pain and I have lived with it since 2012. I need Ksh 200,000 for the surgery. I have two children in Form three and four and they school at the mercies of God. I can’t walk for long nor do anything tedious. The legs do paralyse sometimes and ache a lot. I hate my life when I recall my past. I used to do business at Ngamia mall in Garissa and supported my children well. Being single, I have become a burden to my parents,” she added.
She questioned why the government has taken too long to compensate them or even assist in paying their hospital bills for quick treatment. I was with my cousin who lost his life and her sister lost her leg.
At Wikitoo village, Musuani location, a family of Joel Rhoda has got only a grave to show for their loved dad and husband. Naomi Joel, daughter to the deceased Joel who died in the attack and left behind a two months old child alongside other four siblings.
“By then I was at class eight, my mother has struggled a lot for me to complete form four. My sibling is in form two and the rest are still in primary school. It has been so hectic for our mother to pay fees for us since I was on and off classes. The same is happening to my brother in form two. The government should help us since we are paternal orphans and my mother is a casual labourer,” added Musyoka.
Her mother Josephine who didn’t want to talk much said nothing can replace the pain and loss she got from the death of her beloved husband.
The only prayer for the victims and survivors of Al shabaab attacks is that the government will one day compensate them for the loss they incurred and for losing their loved ones in terror attacks.
Justice will also happen to them when all the people behind the attacks are brought to book and made to pay dearly for the crimes they committed.