Having encountered the traumatic events that led to the brutal death of their colleagues, some survivors of the April 2nd terrorist attack survivors at the Garissa University College are still not in a stable state to make the next move in their academics.
Psychologists say that it is too early to make decisions to relocate the students who are yet to come to terms with the horrific events at their university. Solomon Mwangi, a counselor at Christ is The Answer Ministries (CITAM) Valley Road says that the survivors of the April terror attack should be allowed to mourn and cry instead of hurrying to make immediate major decisions.
“They need counseling. They should also be trained to forgive those who did this evil despite how difficult this may be. They should be allowed to talk as much as possible regarding their experiences from the incident,” said Mwangi.
According to him, it normally takes at least nine months to mourn the death of a close friend or relative. Sometimes it takes a few years depending on how close you were to the departed one. He, thus, says that changing the learning environment is not necessary the solution to the trauma.
“Would you, for instance move from your permanent home after a robbery attack?” he poses.
Mwangi was responding to the government directive to transfer the survivors to the Moi University’s main campus in Eldoret after the Garissa University College was closed in April following the attack. The students reported at Moi University Main Campus on May 20th, less than two months since the attack.
Edwin Orang’o, a Second Year Business Management student at the Garissa University College told The Monitor that he just got his new national Identity Card after as he came to Nairobi with nothing.
“We left everything there and were given Sh1,000 each by the school administration before being put in the bus that brought us to the Nyayo National Stadium. When we asked about our books, certificates and other personal belongings, we were told they will be brought back. But we have not received any feedback yet,” Orang’o explained.
But he says although some of the items have been delivered to him, he still lost some clothes and his mobile phone.
“Some of my colleagues even lost their laptops,” said Orang’o.
Despite the uncertainties surrounding their back to school plans, Orang’o says he is psychologically prepared to continue his education after receiving regular counseling from Kenyatta National Hospital where he was attending once every week.
“I would often meet most of my friends during these sessions and we shared a lot on any updates about our going back to school. But we were still uncertain about our admission requirements in Moi University, accommodation plans, how to recover our items and whether we will be paying school fees or not,”
said the 19-year-old former Upper Hill School student.
While moving to a new campus will be healing and therapeutic to some students, Mwangi says that to others it will be characterized by flashbacks of the April 2 happenings.
“This will take probably not less than one semester to adjust to a new environment, make new friends even as they try to forget or live with the Garissa effect psychologically. Stabilising fully will take some at least a year and others less,” he says.
But despite the impact of the terror attack that led to the death of over 140 students, Mwangi says that life must move on. He adds that it is not time to breed religious differences, especially among students at this time.