NAIROBI, Kenya, May 26 – She was in deep sleep when the searing heat of fire woke her up.
Writhing in pain, 31-year-old Jane Wanginda dragged herself with the help of a neighbour out of her shanty house in Southern Sudan.
She could barely see where she was escaping to.
It was an incident that took place in July 2012, but the tragedy is very fresh in her mind.
When she woke up, it felt like a dream, but she realised it was reality.
Her house was burning in fierce flames. Worst of all she had suffered severe burns.
“I had gone to Southern Sudan for greener pastures. I had stayed there for one year. It was on a Thursday at midnight when I got this tragedy. The house caught fire and I was in deep sleep. A good neighbour helped me out of the house,” she recalled.
Wanginda was rushed to a nearby clinic but due to lack of proper medical services the doctors recommended that she be flown to Kenya for specialised treatment.
However, she could not get a flight to Kenya because there was no space for her to lie down. News of her tragedy spread like fire on dry grass and the following day, Kenyans living in Southern Sudan thronged the small dispensary to help a sister.
They contributed money to take Jane to Kenya by road.
“The people brought me by car… I was just taking water using a straw and the first-aiders were applying Vaseline on my burnt body,” she recalled.
Jane arrived at the Kenyatta National Hospital the following Sunday at 10pm and was admitted in the HDU for one and half months before she was moved to the burns ward where she stayed for one year.
She had suffered 87 percent burns.
“I was burnt like 82 percent externally and five percent internally. The total was 87 percent. I was burnt on my hands, my back, my forehead (showing head) I underwent through a lot of pain. There were sometimes I could not see because my eyes were burnt also, I could see blurred vision,” Wanginda narrated.
When we met her in a slum in Nairobi, she had the look of one who had drunk the cup of sorrow and swam in the deep waters of pain.
As if her portion had been engraved in stone as that of misfortune, Wanginda had clung to hope writing encouraging bible verses even as she narrated how horrendous her experience had been.
The album that she highly values and keeps close to her contains photos of her before the fire tragedy and photos taken during her admission to the hospital.
The first page of the album contains very powerful and moving messages of hope aspiration and appreciation she describes through her journey of a tragedy that has completely changed her life.
One can hardly hold back tears after reading the messages written in a blue pen on the white pages of her special album.
“See the living testimony of God’s power, miracles, mercy and love for me. The limitless love of Christ on mankind. The story of the miracle girl Jane Wanginda Muigai,” she wrote.
The album contains gory images of a burnt pink face covered in a white bandage with a small space left for the eyes, nose and mouth.
In one of the photos she poses with two patients she was admitted with at the hospital.
“So many of them died. Some had very small percentage of burns, some 50 percent, others 60 but they died. I had the most percentage, sometimes I was scared that I would be next one to die,” she narrated while showing us the images of when she was in the hospital.
Her face completely disfigured with no hair line, Wanginda lost all the memories that her beautiful face once told.
While most women would pay an arm and a leg to save their faces from harm, Wanginda did not get a chance to protect herself from the unforgiving flames that took away her facial identity.
In that house in south Sudan marked the beginning of a journey that Wanginda still walks today, that of healing even though it has been extremely hard and difficult for her.
As if misfortune had not had enough of this woman, Wanginda lives in a one roomed house which she shares with her elder sister and their two sons.
Though it is a tiny room divided with a curtain to separate the bed which they all share from the tiny kitchen and sitting room, she says the love her elder sister Grace Wangui has extended is immeasurable.
She also appreciates the love of her sister Ann Wangui who takes care of her.
Her dreams and hope to secure a bright future in Southern Sudan were shattered like broken glass.
Even though she will never go back to normalcy, she is urging well-wishers to help her restore her dreams to at least pay for her remaining five surgeries and support her take care of her son.
“I have five more surgeries ahead of me. My hands cannot stretch at the elbow. My forehead got burnt they have to implant my hair. So I have to go for plastic surgery. I can’t see with my left eye, I also need support for cornea transplant,” Jane appealed.
Her number is +254 701 567 107.