Critically injured Burundi student opens his eyes as sister arrives in Patiala


She has travelled thousands of kilometres from the tiny eastern African nation of Burundi to India, not only to be by the bedside of her brother in hospital, Yannick Nihangaza, but also with the hope that one day he will be able to talk to her like they used to, before a murderous assault in Jalandhar last April nearly killed Yannick.

For about nine months now, Yannick's father Nestor Ntibateganya has been with his son who is in a vegetative state in Patiala's Columbia Asia hospital. Yannick's older sister Fiona, 25, joined him on Tuesday.

Nestor considers Fiona lucky, because after her arrival, Yannick has been able to open his eyes and indicate he is probably aware of Fiona's presence. Fiona said she was shocked when she reached the hospital and saw her brother, who came to India to study, after more than two years.

"I could not recognise that the person who was lying in bed was my brother Yannick. He has gone so weak, doesn't talk and also cannot move," she told The Indian Express.

Since Fiona doesn't understand English and can only speak French, Nestor, who knows both languages, has to accompany her everywhere in Patiala.

"Ever since my brother was attacked, I wanted to visit him. But since we do not have enough financial resources, I could not reach here earlier. We used to talk to each other on phone while he was studying in the university, but now he doesn't speak. I still remember the times when we used to interact regularly despite being thousands of miles away from each other. I wish he talks to me again," she said.

Nestor and Fiona now spend their days and nights by Yannick's side, hoping that he will one day be able to sit up. That hope was strengthened after Yannick opened his eyes after many months of hospitalisation. Doctors at the hospital are also sparing no effort and claim Yannick is getting the best medical treatment.

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