A school bus full of students swerved off a steep and rain-slicked road in Tanzania on Saturday, May 6, 2017, killing 35 people, 32 of them children. Three children miraculously survived due to the heroic efforts of STEMM (Siouxland Tanzania Educational Medical Ministries) Missionaries Jennifer Milby, FNP-C Akron Mercy Medical Clinic, Manda Volkert RN Ponca Mercy Medical Clinic and Kevin Negaard, Dunes Surgical Hospital.
On that fateful day, during a break from their mission work, Jennifer, Manda and Kevin had the opportunity to go on a safari, but their plans quickly changed. As their bus came around a bend they noticed a small crowd standing near a deep ravine. Jennifer looked down the ravine and saw that a school bus had gone off the road. They quickly went into action and learned that the bus had lost control filled with 38 people, most of whom were school children. The scene was horrific. Local villagers helped form a human chain and started bringing the students up from the bus. None of them appeared to be alive.
The three missionaries quickly set up a triage area where the children were checked for signs of life. Calmly, their medical instincts kicked in and their hands went to work. No one spoke English, but that did not interfere with Jennifer, Manda, and Kevin's actions. They were dealing with multiple fractures and gaping wounds. A young boy was discovered conscious with several broken bones, but he remained alert. The team also found two girls with a pulse, but they were both unconscious. These three survivors were brought to the local hospital. The next day the three missionaries went to church and prayed that the children would survive. They felt a deep bond to the children, who reminded them of their own kids.
The local hospital lacked the resources for the children to recover from the accident. Dr. Steve Meyer, STEMM founder, worked with the Tanzanian government to support the children's transfer to the United States for the lifesaving care that they needed. Dr. Meyer contacted Mercy-Sioux City co-medical directors Dr. Steven Joyce and Dr. Larry Volz to see if there was any way the hospital could provide treatment. The physicians assured him that Mercy would accept the three survivors and that all medical services would be provided at no cost. Franklin Graham, President of Global Mission Outreach with Samaritan's Purse, arranged for a plane to transport the children to the United States.
After arriving at Mercy-Sioux City, the medical staff began treating the children's multiple extremity fractures, taking a combined 15 hours of surgery. Between the three children, Sadia, Doreen and Wilson had over 20 broken bones. One of the children was paralyzed when she arrived, but due to the care she received at Mercy, she is now able to walk again.
After several weeks of treatment and rehabilitation at Mercy, Samaritan's Purse flew the patients back to Tanzania on Wednesday, August 16, 2017. Sadia, Doreen and Wilson continue to improve and amaze the citizens of Tanzania with their zest for life. Sadia wants to be a pilot, Wilson wants to be an engineer and Doreen wants to become a science teacher.
Dr. Steve Meyer, Founder of STEMM, wrote a book about how God opened doors to bring the children to Mercy-Sioux City to help them recover from their serious injuries and it's now a best seller on Amazon. You can use this link to access the book on Kindle or to purchase a copy for only $4.95. Visit their website: www.stemm.org