My heart hurts for East Africa this week. Two horrible accidents struck Tanzania and Kenya within days of each other, taking many lives. The world famous white sand beaches of the Zanzibar archipelago were crowded with locals, rescuers and bodies alike after a horrible ferry wreck off Saturday morning when a ferry bound for Pemba, an island near Zanzibar, capsized killing almost 200 people.
Perhaps the most heartbreaking part is that this could have easily been prevented had the boat not been overloaded. The boats are not built to carry more than 600 people, yet this one had over 800 onboard in addition to more cargo than is recommended. The ferry sank in the early hours of the morning, making rescue efforts limited until after dawn. The lucky individuals managed to cling to mattresses, fridges and anything else that kept them afloat until other boats were able to reach the scene of the accident.
In the Sinai slum in Nairobi, Kenya at least 120 were killed, and more than 100 additional people injured, Monday morning in an explosion from a fuel line leak. The number of deaths was so high partially due to the fact that at the time of the explosion many were walking to school or work. An even larger factor was the fact that many raced to the scene of the leak hoping to collect some fuel.
Imagine living the kind of life where you understand the risk involved in flocking to such a dangerous spot instead of away from it, yet you do so anyway because one pail of fuel will pay for a month's rent. Imagine having little choice but to build your home, made only of corrugated steel, above an unstable pipeline because you cannot afford to build anywhere else. Imagine living in a place where a lack of roads makes it almost impossible for firefighters to access the scene. Imagine rushing home to find the bodies of your two children, perhaps the only part of your life that truly brings you joy-- an agonizing experience Joseph Mwangi and so many others were forced to live on Monday. For many this is not something they have to imagine, it is what they live.
Take some time today to tell those you care about "I love you". Remember to be grateful for what you have, because you never know when it might be taken away. Tragedies like this happen every day around the world, and while they are truly devastating and heart breaking, they also serve as a reminder that anything can happen and that every day needs to be lived to its fullest. It only takes a moment for everything to change.