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Westgate terror victims haunted by tragic memories

By Xihnua

Eunice Khavesa had big plans for her young family and like many Kenyan mothers. Her daily preoccupation was to ensure her husband and children enjoyed peace and serenity in their small flat in Nairobi.


The mother of two dutifully ensured that her husband was groomed before heading to work and kept close tabs on her children's school work.
Khavesa harbored no premonition of a looming tragedy until Sept. 21, 2013, when a phone call marked the beginning of a long and torturous journey of widowhood.
An accomplished multi-tasker, Khavesa was attending to household chores while supervising her children's homework when tragic news of her husband's demise at the Westgate mall attack was relayed through her phone.
"I will never forget the events of one hot Saturday afternoon when the news of my husband's death broke. My world sank as I struggled to come to terms with the loss of a bread winner, a diligent husband, friend and father to my children," Khavesa told Xinhua during a phone interview in Nairobi on Saturday.
The widow of Maurice Adembetsa, a manager at a security company who died during the terrorist attack at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, is still haunted by painful loss of her husband.
Adembetsa died under a hail of bullets as gunmen raided the upscale Westgate mall on the afternoon of Sept. 21, 2013.
The security manager was among the few brave individuals who responded promptly during the initial stages of the Westgate siege by heavily armed terrorists.
His death sank the hopes and dreams of a young family into the abyss.
Based on Khavesa's confession, the void left by her husband's death is still gaping and every day is a nightmare as the children keeps on enquiring where their father disappeared to.
"My children are aged nine and seven years, and it has been difficult to explain what happened to a father whom they cherished. Besides the pain of loss, we are also struggling to makes ends meet," said Khavesa.
She disclosed to Xinhua that her joblessness has made matters worse yet little help has trickled since the husband's death.
"My husband's employer released the benefits but the money sustained us for a brief period. No benefactor except Kenya Red Cross has assisted us," Khavesa said.
She undertakes casual jobs in her neighborhood to feed and educate the young children. Recently, Khavesa joined a support group for widows whose husbands died during the Westgate terror attack.
As Kenya prepares to mark the 1st anniversary of the Westgate terror attack, victims and their families are still nursing physical and emotional wounds.
Kenya lost 67 lives during the four day siege by gunmen at the upscale shopping mall.
Victims who agreed to speak to Xinhua narrated a harrowing encounter with vicious gunmen who killed and maimed innocent people with abandon.
Sammy Njoroge, a young father who worked at a supermarket inside Westgate shopping mall, escaped death by a whisker when the gunmen opened fire.
He sustained injuries and is still being haunted by gruesome images of colleagues and acquaintances who died under a hail of bullets.
"The memories of Westgate terror attack are still fresh, and as a victim, I'm still on medication to heal wounds in many parts of the body. Every week, I attend therapy sessions after an eye operation," Njoroge told Xinhua.
He urged Kenyan authorities to fast-track compensation of Westgate terrorist attack.
Njoroge disclosed that his finances and self-esteem took a tragic turn after terrorists brought mayhem in his work station.
"I'm grateful that my family has stood with me in this painful and long journey marked by financial loss alongside physical and emotional pain," Njoroge said.
Kenyans in their thousands are yet to shed off the nightmare of the mall attack when their next of kin died or sustained injuries during the terrorist attack at Westgate mall.

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