, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 2 – Abdul Haji, one of the hero’s of the rescue operation following the Westgate attack, been visiting survivors and their families in efforts to help them – and himself – find closure from the terror that played out on September 21.
Speaking on Capital in The Morning, Haji who vividly recalls the poignant images that he thinks will forever continue to linger in his mind, says visiting survivors has given moments of hope and consolation since the deadly attack.
“One way I am coping is that I am meeting with survivors. After my initial meeting with the first survivor, I felt very relieved. When we sat down and talked through the whole event, it helped me in piecing information and the pictures that were in my mind,” he explained.
Haji who has been widely recognised for his indelible selflessness that saw him save scores after he initially moved in to save his brother, believes through listening to and sharing experiences of the survivors can help him and they cope with horrendous encounter.
“I have met some of the survivors and their families. I met parents of one of the young girls. It was a very emotional re-union. We spent a lot of time together. We spoke and chatted with them. I felt like a big burden off my shoulder. I also met another survivor who was badly injured. He was flying out for treatment but he insisted he had to see me before,” the father of four narrated.
Haji who has been highly commended for humility and generosity believes heroism is about being there for one another even in the most trying moments.
He has taken his heroism further.
He wants to walk with those who survived in their journey of recovery and also comfort those who lost their loved ones in the horrifying attack.
“I feel it is good to see more survivors so that I get to hear more from them and know more about what happened inside. I will spend more of my time meeting as many as I can. I feel that will give me a closure. I will be able to overcome the images I have in my head. Sometimes the head can play tricks on you, and I don’t want this to happen,” Haji asserts.
Even as his photos spread online during the attack, his family members were worried.
First, they never thought Haji had such courage that he demonstrated during the tough and fierce exchange of gunfire that left 67 people dead. Dozens others are still recorded missing.
“Before the Westgate incident, my parents never knew I was that courageous. Even my friends knew I was courageous but not to that extent. They thought I had a bit of courage and I thought so too. But during extra ordinary times people step up and are more than they are, and I think that is what happened to me,” he recalls.