Morgan Tait

Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's consumer affairs reporter.

Kenya still a special place, says mall terror victim

We're catching up with people who made the news this year. Today: Andrew McLaren

Kathy and Andrew McLaren with their dog Crusoe.
Kathy and Andrew McLaren with their dog Crusoe.

Andrew McLaren will return to his life in Africa with a bullet still lodged in his back.

The Hastings 35-year-old loves the country where he was shot twice and struck with grenade shrapnel during a terrorist attack at a Kenyan shopping mall.

He was shot in the chest and back during the massacre by al-Qaeda linked Somalian terrorists in September at Nairobi's Westgate Mall, in which 72 died and more than 200 were injured.

Three operations and a 12-day stay at Aga Khan Hospital removed one bullet that was just 3mm from his heart and grenade shrapnel, but the other slug is there to stay.

Andrew McLaren says he is heading back to Africa soon.
Andrew McLaren says he is heading back to Africa soon.

"The doctors said it is where it is," he told the Herald. "It's not going to cause me any harm, it's not by any vital organs and I can't feel it, but it will do more harm to try and remove it than leave it where it is."

Mr McLaren and his wife Kathy returned to New Zealand in October and he resumed work for Kiwi health products company Olivado that requires him to divide his time between Kerikeri and Nairobi.

Despite the terror they experienced when they popped into the mall to collect some tickets to a rugby tournament, he has not been put off the country.

"If anything, it strengthens me wanting to go back, you only need to see all the mass shootings that happen in the States and bombings that happen around the world.

"It can happen anywhere."

But he said Mrs McLaren would not return to the country just yet.

"With everything that happened over there she's not overly keen on returning at this stage. Maybe down the track at a later time, but not right now.

"I'm quite excited about going back. We've been all around the world and Kenya would be the most favourite country I have ever been to in my life.

"I'll drive out to work and there's hippos in the river, there's monkeys and baboons in the trees across the road from the factory, you can see Mt Kenya from your balcony at work.

"It's the people I work with, the friends I've made, the culture, the food - everything about it."

The magnitude of what had happened to the couple - and what could have been - had changed their perspective for the New Year, he said.

"If anything, don't sweat the small stuff, that's probably the big thing.

"Anything that we ever worried about is not that significant and it is not really something we should be focusing our time on. Instead we should be focusing our lives on our family, our friends and spending more time with them and cherishing the good times."

During his time back in New Zealand he had been relishing Kiwi cuisine - especially "decent pies" - and the Northland beaches where he was spending as much time as possible with his dog, Crusoe.

- NZ Herald

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