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I will always be grateful to Recce for putting their lives on the line for us, says Dusit survivor

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For the last one year, Brian Kuira, a survivor of last year’s al Shabaab attack at the Dusit D2 Hotel complex, has largely shielded himself from the ugly and traumatic reminders of the attack.

“Trying to keep it away from your memory is the best way to cope with it.  I totally kept it out of my mind,” Kuira poignantly tells Standard, in an interview at his office in Nairobi.

Since the attack, Kuira says he has had just one major flashback when he returned to the complex after his rescue.

“I had a meeting I could not miss. During the cab ride to Dusit I recalled everything that happened. I had that feeling of remembrance,” he narrates.

On the day of the terror attack, Kuira had spent the better part of his day in a meeting room at the Dusit Hotel, holding strategy discussions with his colleagues and a client. Kuira recalls they were bound to stay at Dusit for long as the agenda of the meeting had to be completed that day.

“We went down to eat at 2pm We finished eating fast because we had to go back for the afternoon session.  We went back up and at 3pm we heard the first blast. We thought it’s the normal explosion of Kenya Power transformers, so we didn’t think much of it. We looked out the window and saw people running out towards the gate,” Kuira recalls of the initial moments as the attack unfolded before any of the around 15 people in the room knew what was happening.

“We heard the second blast by then some of my colleagues had left the room, I don’t know where they went.  We looked outside the window again and saw people running down. Then we heard gunshots and that’s when we realized something was wrong,” he continues.

At this realization, Kuira says, their first instinct was to get to safety.

READ ALSO:   Dusit hotel to hold memorial for 6 employees on Wednesday

“One of the guys at the meeting had a room at the hotel.  We didn’t think it was safe to go outside because people were running frantically. I called two of my colleagues and they were already at the Westlands roundabout.  Six of us went upstairs into the room. Two of us hid in the bathroom, one behind a curtain, one behind the bed, I was under the table but directly facing the door,” he recounts.

For nearly five hours, the six patiently waited inside the room, aware that they could die if they left the room, since all they could hear was gunshots, both inside and outside the building. Kuira describes the moment as frightening.

Peeping out of the window, Kuira and his colleagues could clearly see armed personnel and civilians responding to the attack.Kuira was one of the first victims to speak out, even as the attack unveiled.“We’re stuck at Dusit, gunshots everywhere,” he tweeted at 3:31 p.m., as the ambush by Al Shabaab went down.

After that tweet, and finding out from social media that the Dusit complex was under attack by Al Shabaab, Kuira says, he kept away from social media, instead keeping in touch with his friends via text.

“I texted a friend who works at the American Embassy.  He knew which room we were in.  We were told to stay in there, he reveals.

Keeping in touch with his friends calmed him, he says, since it gave him the awareness that he was not alone and there were people on the outside working to have them rescued.As they waited, Kuira and his colleagues continued to hear loud bangs and shots inside the hotel, but were unaware of what was happening.Occasionally, Kuira says, there were huge lapses of silence, after which the bangs and shots resumed.

“You don’t know if you’re going to make it out alive or not.  You hear bangs and gunshots, but you don’t know exactly what is going on. That level of uncertainty was unnerving,” he notes.”The Recce guys came to rescue us at 8 p.m. Since they didn’t have key cards to access the rooms, they were blowing the doors,” he says.

READ ALSO:   IN PICTURES: This man Inayat Kassam

Finally, the Recce squad reached the room Kuira and his colleagues were hidden in, what he describes as the scariest moment of the ordeal for him. Even then, Kuira was unsure whether it was the terrorists who had come to kill them or the security forces who had come to their rescue.

The officers rescued Kuira and four of his colleagues, leaving behind one who had hid himself under the bed. He would be rescued moments later.

Kuira describes the walk down the stairs from their sixth floor room as a daunting walk down a trail of destruction, tiptoeing on shattered glass.However, the officers who rescued them gave them the much needed hope and reassurance.

“The Recce squad was very professional.  The whole journey down the stairs, they kept assuring us. They told us to relax, that they would get us out.  It was very comforting,” Kuira recollects.At the time, Kuira reveals, the Al Shabaab had confined themselves in the hotel, engaging the security personel.

“When we got to the first floor they told us to wait for them to clear the floor.  We stayed there for three minutes, hearing shots as they cleared the floor,” Kuira says, describing a feeling of vulnerability that came over him due to feeling like they were open targets. At that moment, he told Standard, he wondered why the officers rescued them before clearing all the floors, since he felt they were exposed.

When they reached the ground floor, the Recce squad searched and directed them into the lobby, as snipers cleared the premises.

READ ALSO:   Dusit terrorists walked into a pricy, exclusive salon in the complex and asked to be spruced up, before shoot out

“It was scary.  At least in the room we were confined, but here we were exposed, even though there were cops everywhere,” Kuira says, stating that some of his colleagues were shaking.

They sat on the floor of the lobby for about 20 minutes, until an armored car came for them, safely taking them out of the complex. After the rescue, he went back to the office, taking time to recollect himself before going home.

The immediate aftermath of the attack took an immense toll on Kuira. He recollects being unable to sleep for the first two nights, any slight sound jerked him.But since then, he says, the recovery has been easy.

A week later, Kuira and his colleagues got back all the items they had left at the hotel, resumed work, and resumed life as normal, putting the tragedy behind them.Several months after the attack, Kuira recalls feeling slightly nervous on the cab ride to the complex, as memories of the attack rushed in, but he strangely felt safe once inside.

“I went to Dusit once for a meeting. The security is more advanced, which is a good lesson.  It made me feel a bit safer walking in,” he reveals.

One year later, Kuira says he remains eternally grateful to the Kenyan forces who swooped into Dusit, putting their lives on the line to save those trapped.

“I will be forever grateful to the Recce squad who came to get us. They kept repeating to us that we are safe down the six flight of stairs. We were in a building with terrorists, walking down an open flight of stairs. They were very professional.  Our cops take a lot of flak but they are very professional”You remember that they have families at home but they are risking their lives to save yours,” he says.

By Standard

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Health

My sister always served me on the same plate after she learnt of my HIV status

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Mary (not her real name) often made trips to the hospital when she was little.

She was too young to understand what was happening and her mother was hesitant to tell her that she was HIV positive.

When I met her, she greeted me with a firm handshake and apologized for showing up ten minutes late.

We quickly went to a nearby restaurant and ordered a cold drink. She gently dipped her straw into the mug of milkshake and took a sip before settling onto her seat.

She tells me that the interview might ‘go south’ any moment since the subject is quite emotional and she might need time to recollect herself.

When I was little, my mum often took to me to the hospital. From time to time I was down with a cold but I thought it was nothing serious.

By the time I got to Class Six, the trips were more frequent and I had to ask my mum why I was always in hospital yet my pals were outside enjoying their childhood.

“It is at this point that she told me I was HIV positive. I remember how distraught she was when she broke the news to me. Her eyes were teary.

She explained to me that it was not my fault and that she was actually the one to blame since it was a case of mother to child transmission.

READ ALSO:   IN PICTURES: This man Inayat Kassam

At the time, I could not comprehend the magnitude of the situation and my innocent self thought I would be healed within no time. This was not meant to be.

As the years went by, I realized that I had to live with the virus and I had to be on medication daily.

Fast forward to 2018, I have a lovely sister whom I deeply love. I have spent numerous nights at her place but on a certain weekend I noticed something peculiar.

I wonder why it never occurred to me. Ever since I had started going to her place, she had been serving me food on a particular plate.

At first I thought it was part of a set but later I realized that it was the only one.

On this particular day I approached the househelp and asked her why she always served me on that plate.

She confidently said, “Niliambiwa nikuwe nakuwekea chakula hapo.”

These words pierced into my heart like a double-edged sword. For a moment my heart sunk.

This was my blood sister. How could she do this to me? We grew up under the same roof…did I really deserve this?

I never confronted her about it but to be honest, our relationship changed. I could not help it.

I tried to forget it but I couldn’t. I was facing stigmatization from family. It was tough.

READ ALSO:   Dusit terrorists walked into a pricy, exclusive salon in the complex and asked to be spruced up, before shoot out

I cried myself to sleep every single day. I cried out to God so many times. Why me?

Life had lost meaning. I felt I was a baggage to everyone.

But I vowed that my destiny was in my hands and I had the ability to turnaround my fortunes.

I used all the setbacks I faced as a catapult to achieve all my dreams. I felt lonely but I knew God was on my side.

I dedicated my life to him and slowly things started changing.

I landed a decent job with a top city hotel and made good money. I invested the money in various businesses and boy didn’t they pick.

At times I feel like my status influenced me positively. I am now at a better place… I have been on ARVs too but I am used to them

I am living positively, with a positive mindset and I will do my best on earth until the Almighty calls me home.

At this point, Mary takes a look at me and says, life is like an elevator. Challenges can take you up or pull you down but you are at liberty to choose the button you desire.

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Lifestyle

President Uhuru’s niece Nana Gecaga in mourning

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KICC CEO and President Uhuru’s niece Nana Gecaga is mourning the passing on of her friend Merali Daisy.

She shared a touching post, describing the late as a flower and condoled with her family. Daisy is the sister to business mogul Bobby Kamani.

Yesterday we lost a flower, an amazing friend and beautiful woman inside and out @meralidaisy May GOD watch over your family during this very difficult time… 😢😢😢 @bobbykamani i continue to pray and standby your family #RIP @meralidaisy 💔💔💔💔💔 #gonebutneverforgotten🙏,’ read Nana’s message.

In another post, she wrote,

My dear friend @bobbykamani words can not express the sadness that comes with this news… my prayers go out to you and your entire family at this time 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾 may GOD watch over our dear sister @meralidaisy 😢😢 stay strong my friend and we’re here for all of you at this very difficult time 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾 RIP @meralidaisy

The late Merali Daisy & her brother Bobby Kamani, the managing director of Zuri Global

Bobby Kamani, the managing director of Zuri Global has paid a moving tribute to his sister.

You were my favorite hello and my hardest goodbye. Only time will reveal what God’s plan was when He put us all through this unimaginable heartbreak and shattering turmoil. Rest In Peace my beautiful darling Sister – you were the strongest individual I came across. There was no incredible soul on this planet that was so loved like you and there never will be. Daisy – I died when you did. 😢💔 ~ Lots of Love from Your Biggest Fan and Your Best Friend.

Kenyan celebrities have condoled with Kamani’s family and below are their messages;

READ ALSO:   Dusit hotel to hold memorial for 6 employees on Wednesday

tonytimase Pole sana Bobby for your loss, it’s been a torrid period for you and your family, may God give you strength

kamz26 Heartfelt condolences, Bobby. Really very sorry for your loss.

emmatoo1 Deepest condolences Bobby, your family and her young family. May her soul Rest In Peace. 🙏🏾💔

officialjanetmbugua Deepest condolences 🙏🏾

pritijessa Deepest condolences Bobby. May God give you and your family the strength to bear this heartbreaking loss. 🙏🙏🙏

By Mpasho

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Lifestyle

‘Both my husband and I are HIV Positive,’ Phenny Awiti on raising negative children

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Kenyan woman Phenny Awiti living with HIV/AIDs is heavily pregnant with her third child.

Awiti’s two daughters are HIV negative and she is always sharing her experiences on raising the two.

The brave mother, who has been using social media to fight stigma associated with HIV has revealed that her mzungu husband is also HIV positive.

She shared a photo with her young family, flaunting her burgeoning baby bump, and it attracted more than 3k likes.

Phenny Awiti
Phenny Awiti with her husband and daughters

I don’t know how it feels like to be HIV Negative, but I know that I and Baba Bread are both HIV Positive and gladly raising these two beauties who are free from the virus. I cannot wait for another bundle of joy who is HIV Negative! 🙏🙏🙏 It is so rejuvenating breaking the barrier of HIV and stigma to the younger generation,’ Awiti wrote.

Thousands of Kenyans flooded the post, praising Awiti for her boldness. Below are the comments;

Kenyan Lugari Boy If you feel like you’re losing everything, remember that trees lose their leaves every year and still they stand tall and wait for better days to come. I’ve always admired you osiepna

David Ojango You are so much inspirational, words that change the life of others and change people’s bad thought and perception, May God always be there right by your side and bless you abundantly

READ ALSO:   American who survived 9/11 dies in Riverside attack

Herina Achieng Aries Beautiful gorgeous Family I love you ♥

Mami Mbuya very true dear, the ones living HIV- are more in fear than the +VE individuals,trust me better live a positive life with full acceptance

Pamei J Peters This is what I love reading and seeing each day😍💝💓 I love you so much😘

Dorothy Okeyo This picture speaks volumes am blessed to read this.

By Mpasho

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