Too tired to cry
those treatments helped at all. Sam contacted a student from Liverpool University called Ben, who was in Zanzibar on a medical placement at the hospital. Katie and I had already met Ben at a full moon party at Kendwa Rocks in Zanzibar several weeks earlier.
Ben yelled out to fellow hospital staff to bring us water. A staff member wheeled in a bucket and Ben used a plastic cup to pour water from the bucket over our burns. Nadine was using a cloth to dab water on my face.
Sam also contacted the British consulate in Zanzibar and our insurance company to inform them of the attack. I overheard him saying he believed we had been attacked with acid.
I thought about Katie Piper, the former model and TV presenter who had acid thrown in her face on the orders of her ex-boyfriend, and the impact that had on her life.
I was terrified and still in pain, crying, wishing I was back home in Hampstead, North London, with Mum and Dad, my two brothers and our two dogs.
I reluctantly gave Sam my father’s mobile number, not wanting to worry my parents about what we were going through. I urged Sam to play down the severity of the attack. But within seconds of hearing my father’s voice on the phone, Katie and I began to cry again. He tried to calm us, saying he would do everything he could to have us repatriated as soon as possible.
Realising the lack of resources at the hospital, Ben decided that we would be better placed at the Tembo Hotel nearby, where we used to sunbathe each afternoon after finishing our voluntary work with schoolchildren at the local St Monica’s Primary School.
It was almost 8pm when a cab dropped us off at the hotel and we immediately rushed to the outdoor pool showers and stood underneath the cold running water. We stayed there for a good hour, to the point that our bodies turned numb and we could no longer feel the sting of our burns, until a doctor who had come to check up on us advised that we abandon the showers, fearing we might catch hypothermia. At that point we were simply relieved we could no longer feel anything.
Wrapped in blankets, we were in one of the hotel rooms resting when Edward, our mentor, burst into the room. I threw my arms around him and cried. His arrival was followed by Carl Salisbury, head of mission at the British consulate in Zanzibar, who had organised for a plane to fly us to Dar es Salaam – the largest city in Tanzania.
He drove us, along with Edward, Ben, Sam and Nadine, to the airport, where we boarded a plane for the 20-minute flight. My eyes were closed during the brief journey. I was numb, barely conscious and everything was a haze. By now I was too tired to cry or complain of my pain.
It was midnight by the time we arrived at Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam. An ambulance was awaiting us on the airstrip and all six of us climbed into the back – Katie was lying on the bed and I sat with the others alongside her.
With its sirens blaring, the ambulance raced towards hospital with such speed that its back doors flung open as it negotiated its way in and out of the traffic. We all screamed and held on to the bed to avoid being thrown out into the oncoming traffic in a scene akin to a Hollywood action movie. The driver stopped and apologetically closed the doors before we eventually arrived at the Aga Khan Hospital.
An hour or so later the police came to interview us. We spent at least 40 minutes giving them a detailed account of the attack and descriptions of the men on the moped.
Once we were settled in our room, Ben and Sam went in search of a late dinner, as the hospital was unable to provide us with any food. They returned with pizza, chips and lots of lemonade at about 2am, after which we fell into a fitful sleep for a few hours.
I woke in the morning to realise that the attack had made global headlines.
We were advised against leaving our rooms to avoid being pursued by photographers. But the photographers were determined to get in because we were being visited by Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, the president of Tanzania.
Katie and I quickly covered ourselves with bed sheets to avoid being photographed, but President Kikwete ordered the photographers out before sitting on a chair, positioned between my bed and Katie’s.
Surrounded by his entourage, who included security guards, advisers and hospital staff excited to see him, he asked us how we were feeling. “We are very sorry,” he said. “We are