Monday, August 27, 2007

Sharing Nugget #50

#50: "Is She an Angel?"

An excerpt from Reader's Digest:

On Monday, January 13, 1997, wearing blue jeans and a blazer, (Princess) Diana stepped into the throbbing heat of Luanda, the capital of Angola, after an 11-hour commercial flight to southern Africa with Whitlam and Lord Deedes, the grand old man of The Daily Telegraph. The country was reeling from a 20-year civil war. Fifteen million mines had been scattered among a population of 12 million, and clearance had barely begun. The streets were filled with men, women and children with blown-off legs; some 70,000 innocents had stepped on land mines. Diana was galvanized by what she saw.

In the wreck of Huambo, a disputed and heavily mined area, she and her party had to walk single-file behind an engineer to reach a small, godforsaken hospital. There Diana saw seven-year-old Helena, who had gone out to fetch water and stepped on a mine. It had blown out her intestines. A saline drip was keeping her alive. Flies buzzed around her.

Arthur Edwards, covering the expedition for The Sun, says the child was lying exposed on her back when Diana reached her. "The first thing she did was instinctive. She made the child decent, covered her up. It was the thing a mother would do."

Diana then talked softly to the girl and stroked her hand. After she moved on, Christina Lamb, the Sunday Times foreign correspondent, stayed with the dying child. "She said to me, ‘Who was that?'" recalled Lamb. "I said, ‘She's a princess from England, from far away.' And she said to me, ‘Is she an angel?'"

Little Helena died soon afterward. "The last thing she saw," said Lamb, was this "beautiful lady that she thought was an angel."



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