Too tired to cry

Friday - - Society -

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

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