04 June 2014

Refuge Gone Wrong

When over 200 Nigerian girls were kidnapped from their boarding school in April, the world was outraged.  Using hashtags and digital polaroids, the phenomenon that is social media took the story viral, making famous the militant fundamentalist group that has been terrorizing Nigeria and recruiting young men in Niger.

Across the border our Nigerian brothers and sisters live amongst the acute trauma of kidnappingsbombings and massacres.  And while on this side we don't face the same acute horrors, we do feel the secondary effects.

On Friday, I wrote about the Little Girl of Peace, who had been brought to our hospital with severe burns after a car accident.  Turns out, she is a refugee.
Late in the night on Thursday, an overcrowded bush taxi was making its way north toward the border between Nigeria and Niger when it collided with another taxi transporting containers of gasoline.   Amid broken glass, crushed metal and engulfing flames, fifteen passengers survived, all with major traumatic injuries, and were carried across the border to a government hospital in Niger.  Later, that hospital transferred the worst eight cases to us.

Our patients were admitted without money for their treatment or food, nor family to care for them.

As the day went on, I received more bits of the story: the collision was bad enough to cause damage, but it was the explosion of the second taxi that resulted in casualties.  My patients had dragged themselves from the burning car . . . some were helped by those less wounded . . . one boy even ran on a broken femur to escape the flames.

S., our Little Girl of Peace, was traveling with her sister, her mother, and her mother's co-wife when the accident happened.  She was the sole survivor of her entourage, and the next 72 hours would be critical.

Before the accident, her mother had shared their plight with some of the other passengers: they came from a big city in the center of Nigeria.  Her husband had sent them on ahead to Niger to wait out the coming conflicts between the government and the fundamentalists, while he stayed behind with their two sons who were finishing their exams.  They were to stay in the household of an uncle . . . for an indefinite period of time.  The father and sons would follow in a few weeks.

Refugees.  In Niger.

Fleeing the [second--depending on who you ask] wealthiest country in west Africa for the least developed in the whole world.  Hoping for safety and security . . . away from violence.

They left longing for freedom from terror, but found trauma instead.

Three refugees dead, one sweet girl charred in the ICU.  Half of a family wiped out in one accident, a lone daughter fighting to stay alive.

I can't help but think of all the injustices surrounding this Little Girl of Peace.  The side-effects of terror that will scar her face and body for the remainder of her life.  And as my mind swirls amid the horrible, my spirit calls out to Jesus on her behalf . . . that she would know the Peace for which she is named . . . that she would know the Man of Sorrows whose heart hurts with hers . . . that she would know comfort in a time of such immense pain . . . and that she would find the Refuge that she came seeking!

The Lord is my refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.  Psalm 46:1


Bethany said...

i love your kind and tender heart, my friend, and i pray for you tonight. miss you.

Linda Watt said...

This is another reason to have the trauma healing training. Stay tuned it is coming soon to Niger! Two of us are getting trained to bring it back so we can equip the church to reach out in compassion! Thanks Deb for what you are doing! The front lines are so hard at times!