“WHEN I regained consciousness, I tried to get up by using my right arm for support, but I could not feel it…At that point, I realised there was something terribly wrong”.
These are the words of Chijika Ngonga, 31, who lost her right arm in a road traffic accident that occurred in Mufulira on March 15, 2016.
She had earlier boarded a bus to Lusaka where she was going to conduct a décor training session. Chijika is owner of ‘Heavenly Touch’, an events management company.
She explains that on that fateful day, the bus belonging to a named transporter, left the station just before 09:00 hours in the morning and that almost immediately, the driver increased his speed.
A few minutes later at a police check point, a traffic officer saw the speeding bus approaching and jumped in front of it to try and catch the driver’s attention.
But in trying to avoid hitting the officer, the driver swerved to the right and lost control of the vehicle. It [the bus] veered off the road and fell on its right side, where Chijika was seated.
“I had passed out, and when I opened my eyes, I realised what had happened and started calling for help. I was the last one to be pulled out of the bus and was carried to the side of the road as we waited for transport to take us to the hospital”.
At this point, Chijika felt no pain, but was instead feeling very cold. People had gathered around her and were murmuring loudly with some looking visibly shaken.
She knew then that she was badly injured, but was afraid to look at her arm.
“As I lay in the van that was taking us to the hospital, the injured arm was placed on my chest . I then saw that it was horribly crushed”.
Chijika called her father using the mobile phone of another victim who had a deep cut on her head to inform him on what had happened.
At the hospital, the victims were wheeled to the emergency room. Chijika was now in intense pain but the surgeon who was attending to her, told her she could not be given any medication at that point. He [the surgeon] wanted to establish the extent of her injuries before administering any form of pain relief.
She also suffered lacerations and abrasions to her right hip and thigh and kept falling in and out of consciousness.
Amazingly, her crushed arm only started to bleed when she was taken to the operating theatre.
Had she bled immediately after the accident, the result could have been fatal, the surgeon informed her. She calls this a miracle.
During surgery, her arm, which was being held by a piece of skin was amputated just below the shoulder.
Chijika was then taken to a ward to begin her recovery. She was hospitalised for five days at Malcom Watson hospital before she was discharged.
Life for Chijika has changed drastically following the amputation of her right arm. But she refuses to feel sorry for herself.
“ In normal circumstances, I would have been depressed, but I am not. I had no trouble accepting the situation from the onset. Although I cannot do a number of things for myself and rely on others, I refuse to give up. I survived and have to learn to live with the situation. Two people lost their lives on that day, but God spared my life”.
Being right-handed, it meant Chijika had to learn how to do things using her remaining arm.
She admits that it has not been easy and that she still has some low moments.
Her parents, her siblings, extended family and her Pastor and his wife form her strong support system. They have been offering emotional and spiritual support and this has made Chijika’s condition bearable.
She says the Lord has promised her so much in Isaiah 54:10, which says…. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee…
Just over two months down the line, she is able to cook, dress herself, do her own make-up etc. She is now less dependent on other people. She has maintained her ‘diva’ looks!
She is also learning to use her left arm to decorate at functions.
” Inspite of what happened, I still do excellent decor, budgeting, event management and review. As a divorced mother of three, I am determined to work even harder to secure the future of my children”.
For now, she has moved to Mufulira to live with her parents but plans to return to Lusaka, her base, in January 2017.
She offers a message of hope to anyone who may have gone through a similar situation and is having difficult in coming to terms with their situation.
She says the best is to go on with life and like her, to continue thanking God each new day. She finds comfort in Psalm 30:1-4 , which says…….1 I will extol thee, O LORD; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me………
Chijika says, the word of God forms the foundation of her life. This is where she draws the strength to face each day. “What the enemy meant to be evil, God has turned into good…(Romans 8:28)
On her Facebook wall she writes:… “People ask me how I manage to stay happy despite having my right arm amputated…. My answer has always been that; because I have a choice… I can chose to be angry for not having a right arm or I can be thankful that I have a purpose…. I chose gratitude”.