Over a decade ago, when Islamist militants attacked a shopping mall in Kenya, Shamim Allu was shot five times. She was forced to use crutches. Now, she wants to climb to the base camp of Mount Everest.
In an interview with BBC, Allu said that climbing up the world’s highest peak was a big deal for her. She hopes to carry out her message of hope and forgiveness.
On September 21, 2013, Allu survived the attack on the mall in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. During the attack, which was carried out by al-Qaeda affiliated militants, 67 people died. The assailants were heavily armed and masked.
During the time of the attack, Allu was a presenter for a radio station that was broadcasting a cooking competition at the mall.
According to Allu, she saw a terrified child who looked like he was going to get shot. She then grabbed his hand and told him to stay with her. She said that’s when she was hit.
After putting her hand behind her back, she saw that it was wet. She then realized that there was a huge hole in the top portion of her arm.
One bullet entered her ankle, two went through her arm, and one went back to her colon.
According to Allu, the smell and temperature of the smoke inside the mall were so clear that it felt like it was burning. She also said that the experience was chaotic.
Some people tried to escape by pushing each other. As a grenade exploded, Allu was hit in the back and ankle. The child she was holding died moments later.
She was heartbroken and scared.
She focused on the trees behind the mall and sitting on the bench nearby started to gamble Hellspin to be a little distracted. Furthermore, she thought that these trees would help her get strength and wait for help. After being rescued by the security forces, she was taken to a hospital. This was the start of a long recovery process due to her injuries.
She suffered a collapsed lung, and she had to use crutches for two years. In 2018, she was motivated by Xia Boyu, a double amputee from China who climbed Mount Everest.
She decided to take on the challenge of climbing Mount Everest. Not only physically, but mentally, it was a daunting task. Allu says that she struggled with fitting into her laced shoes.
When she started walking, Allu experienced immense pain and blisters. She now believes that she can run around 11 kilometers.
Allu enjoys climbing Mt Kenya, which is Africa’s second-highest mountain. It usually takes her around five to seven days to reach its peak, which is around 3,660 meters above sea level.
It is a part of her training to ascend to a height of about 5,300 meters in order to reach the Everest Base Camp. This trip is expected to last for around 15 to 20 days.
She views climbing Mount Everest as an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of preserving the environment.
She hopes to talk about preserving the environment, as the trees behind the mall saved her life that day.
Like Allu, Valentine Kadzo also experienced the challenges of recovering from the attack.
Kadzo was working at a marketing booth on the mall’s first floor when the shooting started.
During the chaos, Kadzo was accidentally shot in the hip as she tried to take cover under her booth.
As the shooting started, Kadzo prayed. During her prayer, she asked God not to leave her dying and let her raise her children.
Kadzo was able to leave the hospital after three days. However, her wounds still haven’t healed. She received trauma support and counseling.
When she goes to a mall, she has to find a hiding place as she is still frightened, she said.
The survivors’ families were also affected by the attack. Many of them experienced secondary trauma due to the experiences of their loved ones who were caught in the tragic incident.
Family members of Allu were also affected by the shooting. Her sister and father developed PTSD due to being her caregivers during the incident.
According to Allu, her father used to be an active and healthy individual. However, after suffering from PTSD, his kidneys started to fail.
Two individuals were convicted for their participation in the attack. One of them is Hassan Hussein Mustafa. He received a sentence of 18 years in prison for helping a terrorist organization.
The state claimed that four assailants carried out the attack. The bodies of the terrorists were recovered in the mall.
In response to the incident, Allu established Trees for Peace, an initiative that seeks to help deal with the trauma. She has partnered with various organizations in Kenya, including the Nanyuki Rotary Club, to plant thousands of trees.
Allu has also urged the survivors of terrorist attacks to never give up. Instead, they should continue to fight against the terrorists.