Seven Years After the Garissa University Attack, Survivor Graduates from University
09/23/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Upon hearing her name, Annastaciah Mikwa could not hold her tears back as she walked across the stage to receive her degree certificate in Mathematics and Physics. On September 18, ICC caught up with Annastaciah in a bittersweet conversation at her home in Masinga, roughly 200 km northeast of Nairobi, where she gathered with her family and church to thank the Lord for her improved health and academic accomplishment.
She shared, “When my name was called out, I took a walk down memory lane and I could not believe that I had raised from my chair and was walking by myself without assistance. I came to this university crippled, emotionally tortured, and pushed on a wheelchair, but now I was walking shoulders high to receive my degree and go home a happy person.”
Seven years later, she has realized her dream, although by a path she had not thought would happen. Annastaciah survived the 2015 gruesome Garissa University terror attack that left 146 students and two night guards dead. It was one of the deadliest attacks on Kenyan soil since the 1998 bombing of the United States Embassy in Nairobi. The Somali-based al-Shabaab militants launched the assault at dawn on April 3, 2015. Gunshots rang through the air while some students were sleeping, others doing their work, and others praying in one of the classrooms. Annastaciah was still in bed.
She recalled, “They entered our dormitory and started going from room to room killing my mates. That night, the whole university was having a blackout. The commotion was too much because everybody was scampering for their safety. Before long, the terrorists reached our cubicle. The four of us were hiding under the beds. They shot at us at a close range and all three of my roommates were shot in the head. Several bullets missed my head by a whisker, but I was shot below my waist several times to make sure I was dead. My hips and legs were completely fractured and I passed out because of the shock, pain, and bleeding.”
The gunmen went into a shooting spree, separating Christians from Muslims and arranging Christian students outside in a line to execute them. Annastaciah testifies about the siege that lasted over 12 hours until the security officers took control,
“If anyone survived the attack, including the Muslim students, it is only by the grace of God. The terrorists were out to kill all of us who belong to the Christian faith. More than 100 students survived with injuries and about nine of them died in the hospital. I am thankful to God for keeping me.”
Annastaciah was rescued and flown to a Defense Forces hospital where she underwent advanced treatment that involved over 36 major and minor surgeries to mend her shattered waist and legs.
“I regained consciousness while on the plane. I was thirsty, soaked in blood, and I could not move. They gave me water and then I immediately blacked out. I stayed in the hospital for six months, but I have continued to go for check-ups and treatment until now,” she explained.
In late 2016, she was admitted to the University of Embu where she pursued a Bachelors of Education degree. She graduated on September 17, 2021, in an event that was streamed online due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
Annastaciah concluded, “It has been a longer journey than normal because I should have graduated in 2018 if the terrorist attack had not happened. Today, I testify of the Lord’s goodness and mercy, for enabling me to stand and walk again when I had lost all hope of getting healed. On top of this miracle, I have achieved a fantastic grade in my studies on subjects that are feared by many and considered to be for men only. My special thanks go to ICC for paying my university tuition money when my family could not keep me in school due to the financial strain we had sunk in.”