Advanced Medical Imaging Radiologists, who provide all of the radiology services for Mercy Medical Center of Sioux City, IA, will be working to ensure the victims of the recently Tanzanian bus crash receive radiology care free of charge. This recent article from The Des Moines Register gives more information about the deadly crash that claimed the lives of 35 passengers (mainly children) and the heroic members of the Siouxland Tanzania Educational Medical Ministries who managed to save three lives.
Iowan missionaries help to save 3 kids in Tanzania bus crash
The Des Moines Register, Linh Ta , email@example.com. Published 10:54 p.m. CT May 12, 2017 | Updated 11:45 a.m. CT May 13, 2017
The group of Sioux City missionaries wasn’t supposed to witness a school bus crash that killed 35 people — most of whom were children.
On May 6, seven members of the Siouxland Tanzania Educational Medical Ministries, a group that brings medical care and educational opportunities to Tanzanian children, were heading to a safari to enjoy the natural beauty the country offered.
While en route, they ended up being three cars behind a fatal crash in Arusha, according to The Citizen, a Tanzanian newspaper.
“It’s one of the most emotional things I’ve ever been involved in,” said Steve Meyer, co-founder and president of the STEMM board.
While the missionaries don’t typically visit the country in May, they decided to go in honor of the group’s 20th anniversary.
After leaving the United States for Tanzania on April 27, they got to work, fulfilling their mission for being overseas. On May 6, they were taking a break from it all to go on a safari, but they were running an hour and a half behind schedule.
And so it was completely by chance, then, that they ended up witnessing a school bus crashing into a ravine, killing most of the 12- and 13-year-old students on board, as well as the children’s two teachers and the bus’s driver.
Out of the wreckage, STEMM volunteers pulled three survivors: Doreen, 13, Sadia, 12, and Wilson, 12.
“Instead of running, they jumped in head first and helped pull dismembered teenagers from this bus and somehow waded through all those kids and found three with a heartbeat,” Meyer said.
The next day, the group visited the three in the hospital. It was then, Meyer says, that the missionaries realized the children’s best chances for recovery was going to be receiving medical attention in the United States.
But there were challenges to giving them care — the Tanzanian government was not receptive to accepting outside assistance, Meyer said. And the move presented logistical issues — securing visas and passports, money for their care, a place for their families to stay while their children recovered.
After speaking with Lazaro Nyalandu, a Wartburg College graduate and Tanzanian politician who is a member of the country’s National Assembly and the other co-founder of STEMM, Nyalandu was able to get the missionaries an audience with the Tanzanian vice president, Samia Hassan Suluhu, who was grateful for the offer of assistance, Meyer said.
From there work began on the stateside challenges.
Sioux City’s Mercy Hospital has offered to treat the children, free of charge. The Ronald McDonald House and Sioux City residents have offered up lodging options to the children and their mothers as they recover.
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst and U.S. Rep. Steve King worked to secure visas and passports, Meyer said.
And the Samaritan’s Purse International Relief offered to fly the group from Tanzania to Sioux City.
The mothers and their children, who remain severely injured, are expected to arrive in Iowa on Sunday, Meyer said.
“They’re all just incredibly busted up — physically, emotionally, mentally,” Meyer said.
But through it all, Meyer said he hopes the group’s story shows good can come from dark times.
“We want to share with the world what American heroism is,” Meyer said. “Sometimes when the world says, ‘No,’ our God says, ‘Yes.'”
Photo: A school bus in Tanzania crashes into a ravine on May 6, 2017 killing 35 people. Sioux City missionaries helped rescue three surviving kids. (Photo: Special to the Register)