A dark day for Uchira… but even in that… there was light to be seen…

This last few weeks has been an emotional time in Uchira…
I’ve had the blessing of a new child in my care, a young man called Akilli, which means intelligence, and boy is it an apt name!
Each day I laugh as he tries to force feed his new big brother Dominic…! Domi is short for his age due to the HIV but Akilli doesn’t understand this, so every day when they finish school Akilli cuts Dominic some fruit to eat, and tells him he will always be small if he doesn’t stop being lazy and start eating more food…
Iv had more children sponsored in a month than iv ever had before, over 50!!! It took me a full year of hard work to find 111 sponsors last year, and this year 50 come knocking from a youtube video I uploaded, in 4 weeks!! This is my reminder… that the universe will send me help when I least expect it, and when it is ready to do so, not when I believe we are ready…

Iv seen the universe or god working in all I do of late, and one day last month stands out… as in the darkest day I’ve had in Uchira, I still managed to see the presence of the lord in amongst that darkness.
I am about to write a short story of events one evening, it was a dark day for Uchira, and I hope I don’t upset anyone in telling it as I am about too… I keep telling myself to be real with life here, to share the good and the bad, well this was as bad as its been… but I write it as it taught me a lot about love, light and god… It taught me a lot about why people lose faith and lay blame for things at gods feet, when more often than not, freewill is the thing that causes the events that people wish to blame god for, and thus lose faith…

Last week my world and many others worlds was changed with what started as a simple sound… I heard a bang outside the children’s home, followed by a succession of smaller bangs, until finally nothing but stillness again…
The home is on a hill, and a rocky dirt road runs past our gates and down to the main part of Uchira village… This road is dusty, covered in gravel and sporadically on either side it is surrounded by rocks of all sizes…
I ran out of the back door of the home to the gate… Before I got there Ali and Godi were standing with a look of horror on their faces…
Ali looked to me, and in his broken English said “Johni, the car its dropped down…” Godi then began shouting at me in un recognizable Swahili, Godi is a gentle soul, and he has very little common sense and no education, but his heart makes up for what he lacks in his mind…
I walked onto the dusty and rocky road and looked down the hill… All I could see at this time was a pickup truck upside down, and the roof completely crushed…

Ali and Godi were in shock and not moving, “Ali! Twende” I shouted, meaning let’s go….
I ran down the hill, and I could hear Ali close behind me…
As I got closer, the true horror of what had just happened became apparent… On the front of the up turned pickup truck I could see little purple flowers had been tied to it… My heart skipped a beat, I knew what that meant before I was close enough to confirm it…
The pickup had been used in a funeral earlier that day… and the guests who attended that funeral, 15 of them to be precise, had hitched a ride down from the mountains in the back of this open pick up truck…
The driver lost control at around 40/50 mph, sadly he had too much to drink at the funeral it seems, The pickup flipped over onto the rocky road, and tragically the 15 passengers were helplessly thrown in all directions…
As I got to the car, Ali and I were the first ones to arrive… There were people everywhere, some moving, some not, and sadly some had clearly lost their lives in the accident…
I paused and in my mind with all my heart I cried out “God, I need someone with first aid skills, a Doctor, anyone, please!!!…”… but there was no one, just Ali myself, and 15 seriously injured people…
I looked around, took a deep breath and hopped into the ditch where several people lay on top of each other… I reached the first man, and gently rolled him off of his unconscious friend… I slowly rolled him onto his side and opened his mouth to let blood out… He was breathing. That was enough for now…
I looked around, so many people lay injured in so many ways, I quickly moved onto the next person…

The next man lay with blood coming from his mouth too, I knelt down and said “It’s okay baba, Pole..” Pole sort of means you have all my sympathy in Swahili…

I opened that mans mouth too, again letting the blood out before it choked him… I gently rolled him onto his side, as I did I went to cradle his head to move It over on its side too… When I placed my hand under his head though, I realized that he had hit the rocks head first and the damage was not something I wish to describe… That man was barely conscious… his eyes looked straight into mine, I will never forget how sad he looked, but I will never forget how certain I was that there was a presence with him, something stood over that man that day, as they did all those men and women.. something filled with love and healing… I put my hand on his shoulder, “I’m so sorry Baba, I’m sorry” I said as I left him to clear the airways of the next man… Baba means father in Swahili… sadly, I believe that man left earth a few hours later…
I stood up, my hands covered in blood… My mind took over, “Gloves!, You need gloves..”
I looked up the hill, Godi stood motionless outside the gates, “Godi get help, tell everyone…” he never moved… “Godi!!” nothing, he had seen the crash and was in shock it seems…

I turned to see Ali kneeling next to a young man trying to comfort him, and wake him, “Kaka, Kaka” he was saying… Brother, brother… That young man had suffered terrible head injuries, and for all he was breathing I felt in my heart he would need a miracle to pull through…
I looked around, another man lay near to me, his eyes closed but breathing… I again cleared his airways, but I stopped here and made a decision to go and get equipment, water, sheets and gloves…

You have to realize whilst all this was going on, I knew that we were there only hope… There were no ambulances coming, no fire brigade… nothing… as such services are so few, it would take hours and hours for even one to arrive… We were the only way those people were going to get any help…

By this time a few locals had arrived. A lady was in hysterics, screaming and crying running up and down the hill… I believe she had seen a relative of hers…
“Ali, Twende!” we ran back up the hill as fast as we could to the home… I ran into the childrens home where my 4 volunteers from the UK were, they had not heard the bang, or perhaps had but unlike me never realized it was not a familiar sound…
“I need your help everyone” I shouted… I fumbled in the draw for the surgical gloves I use when dealing with Dominics cuts and scrapes…
“There’s been a crash, people are hurt, some are dying” I said…

My phone rang, it was Emmanuel… “Have you seen this, you have to come John..” “Iv seen it, I’m coming, we needed supplies…” Emmanuel had driven up the hill to find what I had…
Put these on, I grabbed sheets, old clothes that were handy and rushed out of the door having raided the first aid kit…
A wave of guilt came over me though, so much so I stopped and turned to the volunteers, Max, Mia, Maddie and Phoebe… “People are dying, they are seriously injured, if you don’t want to see, please stay here and prepare water and sheets and things…” …I had seen things I wish I didn’t have to see, and my guilt was that I was about to expose 4 more people to those images…
With that I set off running back to the crash. I could hear the footsteps of 5 people running behind me, no one had listened to me, and everyone was coming to help…

“What do we do John..” I heard… I never even replied, I never knew myself what to do…I went back to the ditch, as more locals had arrived and were seeing to people on the road.
The first man I had helped had a young man knelt next to him… “Please sir, please help my Baba!” this young man had come across the horror of the crash only to see his uncle was among the wounded… I opened his uncles eyes, and again opened his mouth to let more blood out… his eyes were covered in dust but he did not blink, his side was cut very badly too… “Please sir help him..” the young man shouted again… I knew in my heart, I knew this man was dying, or about to die… “He’s breathing” I said “keep his mouth clear”…The young man looked at me with tears coming down his face… I put my hand on the his shoulder… “Be strong kaka, I’m so sorry..”
That young man stayed knelt by his uncle, I think part of him knew what was happening…
I stood up, it was chaos, but people had started to arrive with 4wd cars… The locals had called everyone they knew with 4wds to come and act as the make shift ambulances… I could see people being bundled into cars… I saw Emmanuel lifting an unconscious man into a car… I looked around, and by my feet was a young man that no one was attending too…
I held his arm.. “Kaka, Kaka, are you awake..” I said… nothing…a lot of blood surrounded this man, but I couldn’t see where from… I slowly rolled him over, then I saw his head had took the full impact when he hit the road… “Pole kaka” “I give you all my sympathy brother” to translate it literally… or I’m so sorry…
I held a sheet to his head to try and stop some of the bleeding… Some local men came, one lay his hand on my shoulder… “Twende kaka” Lets go brother… he said to me… As they lifted him up, he began to bleed more heavily from his head injuries… “Please slowly slowly” I said in Swahili, still holding this young man’s head in my hands… He was loaded into the back of a 4wd… It breaks my heart writing it, but that young man was yet another who left with the angels that day…

I took a deep breath to try and compose myself, I looked around… I saw a man with severe facial injuries laid on the floor, but he was conscious… I knelt by him, Mia one of the volunteers was already there holding his hand… 2 local men came, and Max who is Mia’s brother, another of the volunteers… We lifted the man up, he clung to Mia’s hand as we brought him to the backdoors of a 4wd… The door opened and I could see Emmanuel had climbed inside to help us get the man into the car… I saw the shock in Ema’s face as he got his first glimpse of this man’s injuries… He was totally incoherent, but awake… Still he clung to Mia’s hand…
We lifted him into the car, Max climbing in as I had his legs…
Myself and a Tanzanian man tried to place a sheet on the mans face to stem the bleeding… Another man was lifted in by his side, totally conscious, but after seeing the swelling on his head iv no idea how…
The doors closed, and the car sped off down the hill… I turned again, by now, in my head thinking, “no more…” I saw Emmanuel, he was very still by the side of the road… I later heard from the volunteers he was stood praying, for all I had not seen that… I looked around again… Something caught my eye…
2 white men were coming up the hill… In a community of tens of thousands of Tanzanians, and one white man… Its very rare I’ve seen others in the village that are not with me in some way.
As they got closer, I saw their T Shirts.. First Aid Africa…… Thank you god!!!
In my thanks, I caught sight of Phoebe kneeling with a woman who was screaming in pain, we believe that lady had broken her back sadly… I tried to kneel by the woman, but she stood up before we could stop her and stumbled across the road, before the fell again, clutching her back and screaming…
The young first aider burst into the crowd, visibly shaking with adrenaline… By chance they had been teaching first aid at the secondary, and were just about to leave when they heard the bang and came to investigate…
The young man began to see to the wound on her head… “you forgot your gloves” I told him… he looked at me… “what happened?” I explained and he simply said “I’m so sorry I wasn’t here sooner…” …. He then said, “ I need a stretcher..”
I searched my mind…We had some doors at the home ready to hang on one of the houses for the special needs community that we have begun to build… “I’ll get one” “Ali… Twende”… We ran to the home and grabbed the door..
We all helped do a spinal roll, so this woman could get onto the make shift stretcher… After some fumbling we managed to get her into the back of a minibus still laid on the door…
It was over I thought… but one man appeared clutching his clearly broken arm… He had waited for the seriously injured to be seen too before coming forward…
With not a lot of fuss the young first aider whose name Ive forgotten, put his arm in a sling and gave him so painkillers at his request…
I looked around, is that it I thought…
It was, all that remained was patches of blood and scattered glass…and expressionless faces…

“Is everyone okay” I asked.. feeling a little stupid, as I wasn’t… so why would they be…
Ali came down the hill with Babu carrying buckets of water… Babu works with the dogs, it means grandfather… as he is old its respectful to call him this…

Through the crowd, a stunned and familiar face appeared… It was the young man who had knelt by his dying uncle…”Sir, what do I do..” … I reached into my pocket, knowing he would have no money to make the journey to the hospital… “Go to see him” I said, holding out a bunch of Shillings… a middle age women gently placed her hand on mine… “I know him, I will take him… Asante bwana” Thank you gentleman… That poor young man was a jittering wreck, I pray he finds comfort from what he had to see that night…
It was over… now all that was left was the truck, and at that point the police arrived, armed with machine guns and rifles, and needlessly dramatic about exiting their vehicle…
We all walked back the home… I think it was safe to say we were all in shock… but we had done what we could, and we hope in doing so saved who could be saved…

5 men lost their lives that evening… and more are still seriously ill in hospital… but it was not god who did this… it was the same human ignorance that goes to war, the same ignorance that uses violence, the same ignorance that hoards resources out of fear or greed, that could manifest the end of suffering for children right this very instant…
That is the sickness in the hearts and minds of men that caused that accident, and it’s a sickness that grows the longer it stays away from god, from love… For without love, we lose hope, and we chose to medicate, we chose to indulge in earthly stimulants and pleasures… and we lose our true connection to god, we lose our truest of loves… we abuse our greatest gift, our freewill…

This is how I see it, and this is how I will always see it… God is a loving father, he gave us freewill, and anything that takes you away from being able to love this moment in life, is also taking you away from god, for god is in the present moment, not in the fears of the future or regrets of the past, and this present moment is all you will ever have with it… Why waste the only life you have, escaping it with drugs like alcohol…
So, where was god in Uchira that dark day you might ask… and if God was there, is god cruel and uncaring… This is the automatic response in relation to bad things and god in life I find…

Well, I can tell you firstly where god was not…
God was not in the actions of the man who brewed the banana liquor for that funeral… Nor was god in the arm of the man who raised a bottle of it too his mouth, one too many times before getting behind the wheel of that pick up truck… God wasn’t in the drunken mistake as that man lost control of his car, which cost so many so dearly…
Those actions were surely nothing more than a terrible use of the gift of freewill we have all been blessed with…

Now let me tell you where god, and his angels were that day…
They were surrounding the 10 people who were thrown onto a rocky road at 40/50mph and came away alive…
They were in the hearts of everyone who came to help that day, the men who came with their vehicles to help their neighbours, the locals who ran up the hill to tend to their loved ones and friends…
They were surely in the sound of the footsteps of the 5 people who ran down that hill behind me, despite my warnings of the horrors that lay ahead…
They were present in the faith of Emmanuel, who chose to pray for guidance, strength and the healing of those who lay in front of him, whilst his faith was being tested the most…
They were in the love, compassion and strength of Mia, who held that man’s hand, for all the image of his wounds, I suspect, will forever be etched in her memory, as they will be mine…
They were in Max, in his clarity and presence of mind, who lifted the injured into vehicles…
They were in Phoebe as she knelt next to a woman who we believe had broken her back, offering only her presence and touch as comfort, as her words would not have been understood…

They were in the tears I saw roll down the cheeks of that broken hearted young man, who wept over his uncle In what turned out to be his final moments… who at least in his last hours here on earth, perhaps knew he was with a loved one and not alone…

They were in Ali, as he knelt down and gently spoke to an unconscious young man, perhaps knowing out of all in front of us he was injured the worst, and needed comfort a little more than any other…
They were in the 2 young first aiders who appeared like an answered prayer…

As I lay my hand on that mans shoulder, and the only words I could find were “I’m sorry baba..” they were with me too, I felt them holding me up, and my emotions in, I felt them showering that man in what peace they could too…
As I cradled that young man’s head, as he was lifted into a vehicle, I could feel them again, holding me up, and I could feel them comforting him with it…
As I and others lifted what felt like a never ending succession of injured people into vehicles … I could feel them comforting each and every one of those injured people, and through out, I could feel them whispering without words, “next one, don’t stop…

I will finish on the final place that god and his angels that night… Many hours later, Dominic came back on his new bicycle that he utterly adores… He sat with the volunteers without me for some time…
Max came to see me, “Domi is shook up…” Domi is a sensitive boy… so I went to check he was okay… Max stopped me… “ He said God told him not to come up the hill on his bike..” I paused….
Iv seen Dominic commune with spirit, sitting eating dinner on night he looked up and smiled, turned to Roger and I and said “My Mama just came to say hello…” Other nights on his mothers birthday when he was mourning, she came to him in his sleep, and this brought him great comfort…
I sat by him, “Domi, what happened?” …. “Someone spoke to me John, I don’t understand..” he replied…
“I was pedalling up the hill to come home, and someone told me to stop, they said go to your friends Dominic, don’t go up the hill…”
So he did… had he not… he would of pedalled straight up that hill into the path of that pick up truck piloted by a drunk…
As I said, God was everywhere that day, and those who could be protected by his will and love, were… and even in the darkest of times, if you wait, light will show itself…

They have a saying here “Mungu ni mwema”… God is good…

Love and blessings from Uchira everyone x

A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.’

There are 5 comments

  1. Suzanne Procter

    such a needles tragedy, if only people would consider the consequences of their actions, so much harm to others could be avoided. God is always there, if we only care to see him. Hope everyone is healing mentally and physically. Love, light and healing thoughts to you all x

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  2. Jackie Harrison

    Holy God John If only I could bring my two boys and Des my husband and come to Uchira right now I would.We’ve only recently found out about your face book page yet you’d think we knew you all our lives the love and respect we have for you.The tears are falling down my face with reading your blog.I wish so much we could help.My boys say special prayers for ‘papa John’ and all the little children everyday now .We want to sponsor a boy and a girl John BUT we also keep you and all you do and all your volunteers and friends in our prayers and in our hearts.Love ,comfort and peace to you John ,all the beautiful children and all in Uchira.Please know you are in our hearts and we pray God will keep giving you strength ,health,and all you need to carry on all you do in Uchira.XXX Blessing dear John many,many blessing xxx

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  3. julie wheldon

    What a harrowing yet wonderful story, So glad Domi listened to that voice. Sending healing to everyone effected, be it physical or mental.
    “Wherever I am God is, and all is well”
    Love and Blessings to all in Uchira ♥

    Like

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