The Foreign Service Journal, July/August 2018

64 JULY-AUGUST 2018 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL and my country. Talking about it with anyone who cared to listen. Writing about what happened and how I felt. Returning to the old embassy site year after year on the anniversary of the bombing. Keeping in touch with Foreign Service Nation- als from the embassy and letting them know how thankful and grateful I was then and still am for them. Being kind to everyone I meet, no matter how different they are from me, has also helped. So has praying a lot and becom- ing stronger in my faith. Being protective and worried about my son (at the expense of pushing him further away from me), and now my grandkids, helps too. For survivors: Do not ask “Why me?” Just be thankful. Don’t try to forget—let it play out in words and any other expres- sive manner. Call home to family and friends in the States at the first opportunity. Talk to others; give lots of hugs to other survivors. If you are hurt, ask to leave. You may do further harm to yourself by staying. Do not try to be a superhero and put yourself in danger or work until you drop. Take time to reflect and breathe. Pitch in and help, even if you are not an expert in that area. You would be amazed at what you can do to help in a stressful situation. For helpers: Do not come with an “I am here to take over or save the day” attitude. Let those still on the ground be a part of helping. Listen to survivors and do not give unsolicited advice. Never criticize or remark on how a survivor is coping unless it is a medical condition—and then you should tell a medical professional in private. Be patient and understanding. Thunder on a Clear Day Evitta F. Kwimbere Administrative Section (FSN) I woke up early in the morning saying “Thank God it’s Friday,” took my breakfast, made sure the kids were okay, kissed them goodbye and left for work. It was a bright, sunny day. I had felt an uneasiness that week, but I ignored the feeling. I recall tell- ing my daughter the previous night, “I don’t know, but I really don’t feel like going to work this week.” And she said, “Well, you could always take a day off.” Once I got to work, I prepared my to-do list for the day. I noticed that several American employees’ passports required an extension of re-entry and exemption permits, and I made that a priority. After collecting the diplomatic notes and required signa- tures, I prepared my envelopes for a motor pool driver to dispatch to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. I delivered the envelopes with the register book to the dispatcher on the ground floor for drop off at the ministry. On my way back to the office, I remembered that I had booked an international call with the switchboard. I had to rush not to miss the call, passing near the gate (where the bomb went off). I stopped at the strong door on the first floor, waiting for the Marine Security Guard to open it. I heard a big blast, and the strong door hit me on my left side. I hit the floor so hard I fainted. When I came to, it took me a few seconds to figure out what exactly had happened and where I was. My colleague, Tina— she was then eight months pregnant—helped me to stand up and informed me that there had been a bomb blast. I was too dazed, but I just followed everyone to the safe zone as directed. I smelled blood and felt blood dripping from my face. My batik jumpsuit had spots of blood all over. I realized I had big cuts on my face, on my head and on my left arm. My chest was heavy, and it was painful to breathe in and out. When we reached the safe place, we heard another blast outside of the compound. My colleague Tibruss told me, “No, this is not a place to stay, let’s get out of this place.” He found a ladder lying in the grass, put it against the wall and helped me to climb the ladder, pushing me from the back with the help of another colleague, Michael. I had severe pain in my ribs on my left side, which prevented me from bending or moving fast. Finally, I jumped from the ladder outside the wall of the compound. A good Samaritan stopped and drove us straight to Muhimbili National Hospital. At the hospital, it was mayhem. They, too, heard the blast— in fact, I was told later that it was heard at quite a distance from the area. My husband later told me he thought someone had banged at his office window, and his office was several kilome- ters away. My daughter at home said she was surprised to hear thunder on such a clear day. I was received at reception and they laid me on a bed. I felt the pain in my chest and left side worsen. My husband and other family members were searching for me from one hospital to another. My brother-in-law found me at Muhimbili in the afternoon and informed my husband and the rest of the family. I faintly remember seeing my husband and children in the hospital, with shock-stricken faces. To be honest, I thought I was going to die, and my heart ached when I saw them and remembered my youngest, who was then 3. That same night I was transferred to the private ward, which specialized in orthopedics, to have X-rays and other check-ups. The medical report showed that I had multiple broken ribs— six, all in the left hemithorax; lung contusion; moderate head injury; left shoulder joint sprain and multiple cuts on my face,