, Rachel used to run a beauty salon in Nairobi’s Westgate mall. A year ago, as she tried to escape from the carnage unleashed by Al Shabaab militants, she was hit by a grenade. She lost her right foot and still has shrapnel embedded in the other. Now on crutches, Rachel does not know whether she will be able to walk again and needs round-the-clock care from her family.
“Sometimes… I feel like running, but I remember my two feet were hurt. So I tell God to give me grace, but it is not easy,” she told IWPR. “Sitting in the house for long [periods] with pain here and there makes me feel more traumatised, but I know one day I will stand on my feet.”
A year on from the Westgate mall attack, Rachel is still coming to terms with her injuries.
“You don’t know what the doctors are going to tell you,” she said. “And then the nightmare of staying in the hospital for long – that is not what you had prepared for your life. It becomes more and more hard.”
According to the Kenyan government, 67 people died and more than 200 others were injured when Al-Shabaab militants stormed the four-storey shopping mall on September 21, 2013.
A bungled response by the security services meant police officers were shot by the military as they tried to take over the rescue operation.
On the first anniversary of the Westgate attack, analysts are questioning the nature of efforts made since then to upgrade the security agencies and combat the threat of Al Shabaab.
Over the last 12 months, the militants have carried out further attacks in Nairobi as well as in coastal parts of Kenya. In June, it carried out a raid in the town of Mpeketoni in Lamu on the northeastern coast, killing more than 60 people.