I went on a trip with some sort of excitement, and came back exhausted in just a day instead of two.
I travelled to the volatile South West region of my country to visit the families and victims of a horrific school shooting in the city of Kumba last October 2020.
I started off on Tuesday in the nearby city of Buea where I visited Juliet one of the victims, who had received four bullets in her buttocks as she fled for her life - I was told her crime was that she identified one of the gunmen. Today, she is barely talking and only crying. She only lies on her stomach and still has excruciating pains with each dressing. Her mother a widow herself whose husband was killed two years ago in the mêle of the crisis, is now on drips too because her pressure went up.
As soon as I got back to my hotel that afternoon and took a nap, I was informed there might be a ghost town the next day for some reason, and so it might not be possible to proceed to Kumba and visit the other 9 families. One family is still in the capital city Yaoundé with their own child whose case was critical.
Panic set in and I just went on my knees praying. I decided that even if I made it to Kumba the next day, I wasn't spending another night in the region. Even my visit to one other child victim who now lives with her grandmother in some village near Limbe with a bullet in her brain, was to be postponed.
I got to Kumba with my volunteer Harriet (am so grateful for her), after almost 2.5hours on the road (a normal distance of barely an hour). I lost count of the road blocks and ID card checks, it was pointless keeping your card in your bag. The army patrol guys were looking trigger hungry and blood thirsty, it was nerving and scary.
When I got to the school, I couldn't help weeping but I choked the tears up because Claudia's dad (the 12 year old who has the bullet in her brain) was the one who picked us up on his motor bike and was showing us around before taking us to the agreed meeting place.
Then I met the parents and heard the horror. I didn't know what to say and just offered them what some friends abroad had contributed and sent.
The journey back to Buea the same, I couldn't wait to collect my luggage and get back home.
Am not sure when I finally slept once home, but the next day which was Thursday, I barely woke up, prayed with the kids and wished them well, did my workout and then showered and went back to bed. My body and brain were exhausted and I knew better than to push them.
I forgot completely that on Thursdays we WP Ambassadors had our Thriving Thursday zoom call. I only checked my phone 2 minutes to the end of the call and didn't even have the energy to write in our WhatsApp group.
I am much better today and came to work with a full spirit, but I still went home at midday to rest them body and brain some more.
If a brief visit like this can shake me up this way, what about people who live in such regions, or those families who have lost loved ones and endured untold horrors due to that crisis?
Ah Ah Ah