When Al-Shabaab terrorists stormed Garissa University College on April 2, they left Anastacia Mikwa crippled. In her own words, Ms Mikwa says she never knew she would walk again.
However, the 20-year-old was able to walk home, albeit on crutches, after being discharged from Defence Forces Memorial Hospital in Nairobi.
This was the culmination of a six-month delicate treatment that involved 28 surgeries. The terrorists killed 142 of her college mates in one of the worst attacks in Kenya’s history.
“Am very happy that I’ve been discharged from hospital after a long journey of six months. When I came here, I was very sick, I could not walk. I never thought I would walk again. I could not even lift my leg. But God is powerful and does miracles,” she said.
The anger and bitterness she harboured following the massacre has melted away and she can now afford a smile.
Ms Mikwa says of the attackers and those that sent them: “I just forgive them and I’m not bitter. It was a terrible situation I would not like to remember.”
Ms Mikwa, who was a First Year student when the attack happened, is eager to join Moi University and finish her studies.
Students who survived the attack were transferred to the university’s main campus in Eldoret to continue with their studies.
“I would like to thank my doctors who have done a lot to help me. I have also made so many friends here, including doctors and nurses. Am saying bye to them and I will miss them,” she said as she left the only military hospital in Kenya.
A team of doctors from different hospitals attended to her.
Colonel Dr James Mwika revealed the delicate procedures she underwent and expects her to walk on her own within the next two months.
“She had multiple gunshot injuries in the thighs. The bones were entirely shattered and it was impossible to tell how many bullets hit her. We carried out 28 surgeries, including seven major ones to get her where she is now. Though the treatment is not over yet, her future is bright,” he said.
Besides operations, she received counselling and nutrition treatment. The treatment cost more than Sh2 million, which was paid by the government.
The hospital’s commandant, Brigadier Pius Amagola, said the student was received at the Intensive Care Unit immediately she was flown in from Garissa.
Her parents, Charles and Patriciah Mikwa, were at the hospital to take their daughter home.
The mother remembered how the family agonised for hours when they heard about the attack, which started at 5.30 am and went on for another 12 hours.
“We did not know whether she was alive or dead. But we were happy when we were told she was in hospital,” said Mrs Mikwa.
The good news came at around 5pm.
“Am very happy to see my daughter walking and talking happily. She will go back to class and continue with her studies, until she achieves her aims. We always thought about her, but all the time we knew she was with very caring doctors. We knew she was with doctors who wanted to save lives rather than make money,” said her father.
Though the hospital was established to treat military personnel injured in battle, it also serves civilians.
Brig Amagola explained: “It is our secondary mandate to help civil authorities during emergencies and disasters. The services are free of charge because this is a national resource. The girl was evacuated together with the soldiers and she went straight to ICU. We give thanks to God and our professional medicare. She has a new lease of life and she will be a great Kenyan.”