Three Tanzanian children who sustained multiple fractures in a school bus accident that killed 32 of their classmates are on the road to recovery after successful surgeries at a Sioux City, Iowa, hospital.
The three were flown to Iowa from Tanzania on a DC-8 plane supplied by Samaritan's Purse, an evangelical Christian humanitarian organization based in Boone, North Carolina.
A Tanzanian doctor who accompanied the three, Elias Mashala, told VOA Swahili Service on Monday the children have undergone several hours-long operations to repair broken bones suffered in the crash.
The kids — Wilson, a 12-year-old boy; Sadhia, a 12-year-old girl; and Doreen, a 13-year-old girl — are now recovering at Mercy Medical Center Hospital. Their mothers, who accompanied them on the trip to the United States, told VOA Swahili they are hopeful their children will return to full health.
The children survived the horrific May 6 crash in northern Tanzania, when their school bus plunged off the road into a ravine. Thirty-two of their classmates, two teachers, and the bus driver were killed. School authorities said they were on the way to another school for an exam when the crash occurred.
American missionaries serving with Siouxland Tanzania Education Medical Ministries, or STEMM, happened upon the accident moments after it occurred and joined local rescuers to offer help. While pulling bodies from the wreckage, the missionaries said they found the three children still breathing, despite suffering massive injuries.
Samaritan's Purse named the missionaries as Jennifer Milby, a licensed nurse practitioner; Manda Volkers, a nurse with 25 years of experience; and Kevin Negaard, the executive director of Sunnybrook Church in Sioux City.
"Kevin, Jennifer, and Manda were by the sovereignty of God late by an hour and a half that morning to where they were going," said Dr. Steven Meyer, the co-founder of STEMM, according to an article on the Samaritan's Purse website. "If they had been two minutes earlier, they never would have seen it, and they never would have known about it."
"There's no question that God put them there at that point in time," he said.
The kids were taken to a local hospital in Arusha and arrangements were made to transfer the children to the United States through Samaritan's Purse, an international aid group led by evangelist Franklin Graham.
The children are expected to remain in Sioux City for a least two months, recovering from their surgeries and receiving physical therapy, as well as counseling to help them recover emotionally and psychologically.