When I got up to the surgical ward, I found them all, lined up on gurneys in the front atrium across the nurses's station. Three adults, two teenage boys and a little girl.
Upon seeing them, I knew this was no ordinary house fire.
"What happened?" I asked the head nurse. He didn't answer. Instead he handed me a stack of charts and the patients' medication cards.
I opened each chart to find out something of what had happened.
There had been a car accident and all these people were burned. Some also had broken bones . . . one a likely brain injury. Where their skin was intact, nearly all six had large lacerations sutured shut by the government hospital who had sent them to us.
I haven't yet been able to talk to any of the adults to find out first-hand what has happened, but from what I can gather, these six are among the survivors of an accident involving a bushtaxi . . . packed with people. They must have been coming from or going to Nigeria, as there was a mix of both nationalities among these six.
The burn wounds of each patient were coated with sand and dirt, indicating that they had laid on the side of the road, possibly for some time. It is probable that these six were stuck inside the taxi while it was engulfed with flames. I have no idea how many passengers were traveling together.
As we wheeled the little one into the dressing room for her her debridement, I asked her name and told her mine.
She lay there calmly, looking at me. I explained that the nurse anesthetist would give her a shot, which might hurt a little, but after that, she would sleep, and while she was sleeping we were going to wash her body.
I placed my hand on her head and she locked my gaze.
Just before she was given the anesthesia, a staff member came in and informed me that her mother, older sister and her mother's co-wife were all in the car too . . . but none of them survived.
I looked back at this precious face, now pink from the burn wounds. Her name means 'Little Girl of Peace' . . . and as she slipped into a chemical sleep, I prayed that over the months and years of healing yet to come, she would truly know peace and the One who gives it abundantly.
Jesus said: Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you . . . do not let your heart be troubled. (John 14:27)