His eyes told the story. Empty, frightened, confused. And he wasn't saying a word. As I knelt by his mattress on the floor of the two-roomed mud and tin house in the back streets of Kolfe a stone's throw from Bingham, I felt pretty helpless. I was also being watched. In addition to Theresa and Dawid who had brought me here, there were at least half a dozen more people in the room, and double that in the yard outside. All worried. All concerned. I needed a story and Dawid was translating, but Yalew would say nothing. As best as I could I checked him over. His right shoulder was bruised and painful; his back was grazed and bruised; the left side of his chest wall was very tender and I suspected a broken rib. But his lungs sounded clear, he could move all four limbs and when he eventually sat up I felt relieved at the ease with which he moved. And there was no sign of head or abdominal injuries. Good. The silence must be the shock of what he'd gone through today.
Yalew was first befriended by some Bingham staff including Theresa several years ago when he was one of the crowd of destitute homeless boys regularly congregating outside the compound. He had had to leave home when his mother died as his father was too ill to care for him, and he lived with an aunt for a while but left there when he was too much to handle as a teenager. He's been part of the "Horizon Boys" - a group who come to Bingham weekly for support, to play football, and to learn about Jesus - for many years. His life has been one of poverty and rejection; over and over.
That morning Yalew, who is around 20 years old, had been travelling back overnight from a long way north of Addis in a minibus with thirteen other people. He'd been accompanying a cousin, soon to be married, who'd recently arrived from Italy and they had been visiting relatives. The details are unclear, but as they approached Addis Ababa the minibus crashed and six of the occupants were killed instantly. Four others died shortly after. The horror and carnage is unimaginable, especially as Yalew's cousin was amongst the dead. He was one of four survivors who were seen in hospital. They inserted a drip, did an ultrasound scan of his abdomen, watched him for a bit, declared him uninjured, gave him ten tramadol capsules and then sent him home. He was carried into the house and put on to a mattress on the floor in the living room which is where he was when I arrived. Theresa asked if I would check to see if there were any injuries that needed further care, as his management in hospital appeared to have been, putting it politely, substandard.
|Horizon Boys - Yalew is in the red top|
I finished my assessment - puzzled by his silence but content I could find no serious injury needing anything other than pain relief, rest and time. We explained it all to his family and friends, and advised them what to look out for and to call us if they were worried. In the midst of this small crowded room, as Dawid knelt and embraced Yalew, Theresa and I stood and prayed for him - for grace; for mercy; for healing; and for the light of the Gospel to dawn in his soul.
Two days later Yalew had still not said a word. A trustworthy neurosurgeon has seen him, assessed him and is confident there is no intracranial injury and that he's not speaking both because of the pain in his chest and the shock, the sheer horror of what he went through in that ghastly accident. Yalew will not have access to psychological therapies for "post-traumatic stress disorder", but he will receive all the love and care the Bingham Horizon project can offer. Please pray for Yalew.