Walter Benjamin, who lost a leg in the Brussels airport bombings, uses a daily account of his convalescence on social media to try and come to terms with what happened.
Through his daily posts he has been offering a firsthand look at the suffering and triumphs of those who survived the March 22 bombings, and asking the question, “How did this happen?”
Airport worker Hassan Elouafi found Benjamin lying on the ground amid the destruction, a tourniquet already on his leg applied by a soldier.
Stepping over corpses to reach him, he handed Walter a telephone so that he could call his mother and tell her he was alive.
Elouafi says he still has flashbacks from that day.
Walter has long been a prolific user of social media.
Just two days after the attacks, he was posting again, telling his friends he was out of intensive care.
But his heartfelt and often profound posts have now reached a far wider audience.
He’s appealing for better education in Belgium’s schools, to give the young more attention, to have them learn French, to teach them what Europe is and how they can retain their own cultural identities at the same time.
Politicians need to act to address the problems of the troubled neighbourhoods that are seen as recruiting grounds for the Islamic State group, he argues.
Across town, Sebastien Bellin, a 6-foot-9 giant once celebrated for his skills on the basketball court, is recovering in the Erasmus hospital.
Bellin, a former professional player who also played at Oakland University in Michigan, says he’s focused on two things: rehabilitating his shattered legs and spending more time with his wife and two daughters.
He says, as a survivor, there are many reasons for optimism.
He plans to keep drawing on his experience as a professional athlete and is looking forward to rehab.
If the doctors tell Bellin he needs six weeks to heal, he says he’ll do it in four.
© 2016 The Associated Press