David Etale’s story

In 1986 a young boy was born in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya that boy was me David Etale. Life growing up was not easy at all, it was a real struggle, all I wanted to do was be a professional footballer just like every other boy in the slums. My dad was a construction worker who tried so hard to make sure me, my mum and my sister we would have something to eat everyday but despite all his efforts we were still struggling. During my childhood I grew up not knowing what a pair of shoe looks like we used to play football in the streets bare feet but to me that was my normal life. At the age of 18 I was lucky enough to get my first professional contract I was so excited that this time I would be able to help my dad put food on the table for the family, but still it was enough as I would only get paid per how the team would perform per match, if we would win a match we would be paid £8 if we would draw a match we would be paid £4 and if we lost we would go home empty handed. Lucky enough for me because of my performances I got signed by a better club that I would increase my earnings to £100 a month but still it wasn’t enough. Because of the financial strain I got involved with wrong crowd and started doing things which were not right to make ends meet but no one knew what I was doing but my mum knew and she warmed me it was only until when I lost a friend that I realised that what we were doing was not right.

Lucky for me a friend approached me and he told me the British Army are recruiting commonwealth people, so I took that opportunity and applied for the British Army and I was selected to come over to the UK and join the British Army. I started my infantry training at the end of 2006 and passed out in 2007 and later joined 3 Rifles based in Edinburgh.

In 2009. we deployed to Afghanistan, four months in the tour, one early morning as we were preparing to go for patrol I remember I was so nervous, I was a driver of vehicle called the Jackal this is an open roof armoured vehicle, but surprisingly that day was so quite until 18:30 pm when we got ambushed by the Taliban, we tried our best as we had a fire fight with them until my boss who was a captain instructed me to drive so we could leave that area. I remember it was pitch black but I had my night vision on which was attached to my helmet that aided me to see the road. About 50 meters away from our previous location I drove on an I.E.D (Improvised explosive device) from that point I couldn’t remember anything I was unconscious and the next minute I remember waking up in the UK in Birmingham hospital, as I woke up I was so shocked and started shouting for my weapon as I thought I was still in Afghanistan, it was only until the nurses assured me that am in hospital. From then my body was not the same I had fractured vertebrae son my lower lumber spine and my left side of the body was so painful, I stayed in hospital for a month and later sent home and started rehab at the rehabilitation unit which was in our camp base in Edinburgh, I was on treatment for a year and half I tried my best that I even went back to work.

In 2014, I was diagnosed with PTSD, (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Life was so difficult for me and my left side due to the blast was deteriorating slowly, in that period I had 12 surgeries to repair my leg, unfortunately I had to come to a decision where it was either I stay with my leg and be confined to a wheelchair or I get my leg amputated and get a prosthetic leg and be able to have my life back. In 2016, 28th January my leg was amputated, it was so tough due to my PTSD, I attempted suicide twice as I felt so useless, anxious and vulnerable. One day as I was in my bedroom my daughter Ashley walked to my room and said ‘dad despite you having one leg I still love you’ that made me feel so guilty and from that point I never looked back, I looked at my two beautiful kids and said to myself ‘I will never look back again.’

The same year of 2016, I was admitted at Headley Court Hospital to start my rehabilitation of learning how to walk again with a prosthetic leg, I worked so hard and managed to get back on my feet once again, I had a reason now to enjoy my life again.

In 2017 July I went back to Kenya, my country of birth and I was interviewed by several media stations sharing my journey, so many people got inspired and it really gave me a purpose to look forward and be positive with my life.

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