There’s no amount of text that can appropriately convey my experience of surviving a terrorist attack. I was scared, emotional, trapped, terrified, paralyzed, and just overall confused as to how humans could be so terrible. But, I will not allow my perpetrators to silence me; I am a SURVIVOR OF TERRORISM and below is my story:
In January 2016, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Burkina Faso to go on a mission trip. For seven days, I worked in Morpougha (a rural village) to help begin construction on a new primary school! It was an amazing experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world and those memories will always keep me warm.
After our week in the village, we returned to the capital city (Ouagadougou) to celebrate our final days in-country! We headed to Capuccino Café to celebrate with amazing food and fellowship. Unfortunately, the night took a turn for the worst.
At 7:35PM, gunmen entered the restaurant and started shooting at point-blank range.
As I dropped to the ground to hide under the table, an angel entered me and moved my body to jump on some man’s back to force myself in the bathroom to hide. I vividly remember cell phones, a baby crying, and constant shooting. After an hour and a half, the attackers detonated grenades and car bombs and smoke began to fill the bathroom. As the smoke poured in, the last thing I remember hearing is a man saying “Nous allons mourir” (we are going to die.)
By the grace of God, I escaped the bathroom with my two friends. The next was unspeakable. I hid under a dead couple to conceal myself from the attackers. Fifteen minutes passed and the building started to collapse and I fled the restaurant. For the next fifteen hours, I hid in an alley under piles of trash. The amazing part is the attackers came into the alley, and with my knowledge of French and small encounters with the Burkinabe dialect, I did not answer their calls. Naked in the alley, I acquired over 300+ bug bites and slit open my toe from tripping.
At around 10AM the next morning, I was found by the French police and taken to the hospital. They stiched up my foot, took the glass out of my foot, and sent me on my way. Later that day, my team and I were evacuated out of the country, and I returned to the United States to embark on a lifelong journey of healing and living authentically.
WHY I BLOG!
In the last four years since the attack, so much has changed in my life—my mental health diagnoses, my career, my relationship status, and so much more. For so long I was embarrassed by all that I was facing post-attack, but I feel that it is important to share my experience as a millenial, non-veteran living with PTSD. But most importantly, I want to convey to others who may be struggling with finding their voice that you can LIVE OUT LOUD with mental health issues and remain true to yourself!