- It was March 23, 2007.
- I was driving with my friends in Mandera. We were heading to Takaba.
- The rough road had huge potholes. But again, I must have been speeding when the car hit one of the holes, veered off the road, and rolled over several times before landing in a ditch.
Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. That’s the famous Murphy’s Law. But in my world when I was 28 years old, everything was going to go right. I was an ambitious university graduate with grand political ambitions.
My involvement in student politics as the leader of the Northern Kenya University Students Organisation had whetted my appetite for national politics and I was going to go all the way to the top. Or so I thought.
Until the road accident that spun my life around, seemingly thwarted my lofty dreams and left me desperate to die.
My name is Harun Maalim Hassan and I work as an administrative officer at the Office of the President. I am also a founder member of the Northern Nomadic Disabled Organisation (NONDO).
Let me tell you the story of how I got to be where I am today after a tragic road accident. And it was nothing short of dramatic.
It was March 23, 2007. I was driving with my friends in Mandera. We were heading to Takaba. The rough road had huge potholes. But again, I must have been speeding when the car hit one of the holes, veered off the road, and rolled over several times before landing in a ditch. Unlike my friends, I was not so lucky, since I had not fastened my seat belt. The impact threw me out of the vehicle onto a huge stone.
SERIOUS HEAD INJURIES
I sustained serious head injuries and by the time I was picked off the ground, I could not even feel my legs. The incident and what followed in the coming days suddenly slowed down my life. The next three months saw me admitted at Nairobi Hospital and I also spent the subsequent seven months at the National Spinal Injury Hospital. It was at the hospital where I discovered that I would never walk again and that I was being rehabilitated in order to adapt to new skills and get integrated into the society. This made me feel as though I had been trapped in my own body. It was the lowest phase of my life and depression set in. I relied on assistance to dress myself, take a bath, or even use the toilet and this really made me question the value of my life.
QUICK WAY TO DIE
I saw many people who were in denial like me attempt suicide while at the spinal injury hospital. At the end of my rehabilitation in 2008, I too hatched a plan for my death. I knew that my family planned to relocate me from Nairobi to Kutulo, my home village in the south of Mandera. I saw it as an easy way for me to die because I knew that the medical facility was far. If a complication arose, I knew; it was a quicker way to die. In February 2008, I found myself in Kutulo, in a small room where I lived with the support of my family. Every day, I was taking medicinal herbs and reciting the Quran while listening to the sound of birds and iron sheets.
Six months passed by and the sign of death was not coming. I developed the fear that I was not going to die, but I would have to live on assistance and in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. I really questioned where my role would be in the society. I talked to myself and asked for how long would people be around me?