Ash Wednesday, 17 February, 2010
By James Mansaray, NHA
Today it seems unreal, like a vision or a dream, the accident on the 6th February 2010. But it was real, very real and I am still trying to come to grips with the impact of all that happened. It seems fitting to me to begin Lent, rehashing the events. The struggles, the outcome - all of it gives me a deeper focus for God this Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten Season.
It was a windy, dusty Saturday morning in Kabala. Everything was going well, I had a long phone chat with Mama Vicki and a brief time with the newly elected Paramount Chief of Wara Wara Yagala Chiefdom.
He had a little break in his busy schedule so we both had time together in his office. A good friend but since his election, his availability is limited.
There was not much to be done at all that day so instead of being idle, I decided to take a bag of salt to a family who have not had salt in their sauce for a whole week. I took rice and couple of shoes to a village about eighteen miles from Kabala. I always have a few shoes in my possession every where I go
for there is always the possibility of meeting more bare feet in these villages.
A strange morning indeed with so much confusion in the air. Had I been told to stay back, I would have boldly said "NO" to the person for I was in Kabala on a purpose - so it was my duty to make use of every minute.
Bashiru, the owner and driver of the car was in a haste...... so I asked him if I could drive since I know this road better but he refused. He had allowed me to drive it before so I was not that pushy to have another try. Instead, I sat beside him with a young man called Alie, who always help and escorts me when doing NHA errands in Kabala and the surroundings areas.
As usual, my cameras in my back pack, some spending money and couple of other stuffs in an extra bag and my old laptop that I always take around to help me do my work. These are things that keep NHA connected and I never part with them.
4:30 PM we were off and it only took us 45minutes to get there. We did make few stops as usual greeting NHA friends, checking their needs and giving few medications. I love being around the villagers so I always feel happy doing this.
At the village, I surprised the family with not just a handful of salt but a whole bag that will last them for weeks. It is always good to help the poor and this is what NHA has been doing for so long for these people.
Few hours later we were on our way back to Kabala and it was getting dark making it more difficult for Bash to drive through the pot holes and gutters. I still made a second request to drive but he again turned me down.
At exactly 8:15 PM that evening, we met a group of people (mostly women and their young babies) struggling to make their way to Kabala after their loaded vehicle ran out of gas in a dangerous curve about ten miles to Kabala. It was very cold and most of the babies were without proper clothing. Bash's car was empty with just three of us in it. I asked him to stop and help some of the struggling passengers especially those with young babies. Luckily this time he listened to me.
Four women in all, two babies plus three of us making it a total of nine of us all in that small car. They were all so thankful and appreciated the ride. I decided to move to the back carrying one of the babies in my hand for there was not enough room for her mother at the front sit.
Bash continued to dash on and I kept cautioning him to be careful every minute but he was just stubborn. It was just five minutes away to Kabala so I decided to hold on to my breathe and be quiet sensing the stubborness in this man, I just held on tight to the fast sleeping baby. There was no way for me to read the speedometer from where I sat but he was at a high speed sneaking through several vehicles and unfortunately for us I heard a loud disturbing sound like thunder, he was off the track with a busted tire heading to a fierce bush with cries from the women "Jesus" , "fire", "accident", "we are dead" From here I knew we are heading for a crash. I could not say a word but just held on tight to the baby till we crashed in this ditch.
It all happened in space of five seconds, at least that is how fast it seemed in my mind. I was still conscious, dust every where, the vehicle upside down. All nine of us struggling to find a way out, there was no baby in my hand as if it was a dream. I asked myself, " Did this really happened'? Am I dead or alive? Why did this happen to me? Then I heard Alie crying "fire, fire fire" . That was the worst thing that would have happened. I looked right - no way out! On my left there were a bunch of people stepping on each other. I then noticed an opening at the other end. Here I struggled to make my way out with sharp ends of the glass tearing my head and several parts of my body. All I was keen about was for everyone to get out of that wreck before it caught fire.
Villagers rushed in to help us, some to steal our stuffs. My back pack firmly in my hands with no shoes on - just socks . I was the first to come out followed by a woman crying for her baby. We got everyone out of the vehicle, safely, even the babies. I was thirsty and asked for water from the villagers so that I can drink and wash the blood off of my hands.
My fear was, "where was this blood coming from?" "Maybe my end has come in this village without my beautiful wife and kids around,
especially my innocent
young boy ROO,
and my daughters, would I cease to exist without my parents by my side, or my family members... Oh how will Mama Vicki be aware of what had happened to me?
I was so troubled and wished for nothing but to be at the hospital so that I couldn't be treated and not die. The pain was severe and I was stiffening up in my back. I began to walk towards the hospital. A friend in another vehicle coming from the same direction noticed me so he started shouting "James, James, James, are you ok?". He wasted no time to take me, together with the other women and children to the hospital.
Even though I was struggling, I managed to crawl out of his car into the first ward crying for help. There was this young nurse that I met and I told her "Please save my life" thinking of all that I have left undone on planet earth. She too called my name in tears and I didn't even know that she knew me. Yet, in Kabala I am known because of the work of NHA.
A beautiful and well painted hospital but no medication at all. Friends and people that I had never met had to run down town to get the necessary medications needed. At that moment,Mako, my brother surfaces in tears.
I managed to make a phone call to Mama Vicki so that she be aware of my situation in case any thing happened. I knew that Fr. Seraphim would already be in prayer -
he just enters things into the flowing stream of his prayers.
I was in tears and pain all night long but luckily for me, I was able to see another day! Tons of people -
women and children filing in to see if I was okay and alive.
Even the NHA school kids came to check out my health.
Seeing all this love and concern around me encouraged me and gave me strength and zeal to never part from what I am doing: walking this NHA path! Praying the path we walk, walking the path we pray. I know it was God and his hand in the scene that spared my life, I also know I see that same hand working in NHA and all of you.
Later, I met a few poor kids with no clothes and no shoes, going to fish at a nearby stream. They were sorrowfully staring at me.
Their eyes remind me of how lucky I was to make it alive with no severe damage. I only suffered just a whiplash, broken laptop and some missing money and items. To God be the glory.
Seeing these kids made me want to bounce back quickly so I can do my work - giving to those in need.
I was transported to Freetown the following day and as I write this whole ordeal, I am again in tears. I thank God for being alive, I thank Him for giving me a new lease on my life. I thank Him for sending his angels to grab on to all of us as we tumbled in the car. I thank Him him that no one had life threatening injuries, especially the two young babies and their mothers.
I thank you all for your continued prayers and support of Nazareth House Apostolate.
Praise God, I am still the same me! and am ready to go full force ahead to continue the work of Nazareth House. We have so much to do, lets pool together and provide for the NHA compound and the work that is begging for our attention. Give today.
I love you all,
I love you all,