The Current

'I don't know why I survived': Survivors reflect on coping after a terror attack

Terror attacks always grab the headlines when they happen, but after days or weeks the world's attention moves on. The Current speaks with survivors of three terror attacks - in Paris, Kenya, and Oklahoma City - about their experiences and how they cope.
Lydia Berkennou Vassallo and the singer of Eagles of Death Metal, Jesse Hughes, in Brussels. On Nov. 15, 2015, Lydia was at the Eagles of Death Metal concert in the Bataclan theatre in Paris, the night ISIS-linked terrorists struck the city. (Courtesy of Lydia Berkennou-Vassallo)

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Paris, Garissa, Kenya and Oklahoma City —  just three of the too-many terror attacks that have brought the world to a stand still, for a matter of hours or days. 

On April 19, 1995, Dennis Purifoy was at work when far-right American extremists bombed his workplace, a federal building in downtown Oklahoma City.

Attacks on this scale will always garner headlines. Waves of sympathy go out for the victims, their families and friends. But just as the world's attention inevitably moves on... there are scores of people, whose lives can't move on. 

The survivors of such terror attacks continue to live with the attacks, day in and day out. Their voices are seldom heard in the ongoing conversation about terrorism.   

The Current brought together three survivors of three terror attacks — in Paris, Kenya, and Oklahoma City — to share their experiences and share with each other how they cope.     

  • Lydia Berkennou Vassallo survived the Paris attacks. Five months ago, Lydia was in the Bataclan theatre, when ISIS-linked gunmen entered and opened fire, killing at least 89 people. In total, 130 people were killed in Paris that night. 
  • Edwin Orango is a university student and survived al-Shabaab's attack on Garissa University College one year ago. The attack left 148 people dead, many of them Edwin's friends. 
  • Dennis Purifoy survived the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing by right-wing radicals where 168 people were killed and hundreds more injured.

This segment was produced by The Current's Marc Apollonio.

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