Actress Ashley Judd is grateful to the Congolese people who helped her in her time of need.
Judd on Tuesday shared intimate photos and details from the horrific 55-hour ordeal during which she struggled to find treatment for a leg injury while on a research trip. She first spoke about the incident over the weekend, hoping to call attention to the plight of the impoverished nation’s need for better access to health care.
“Without my Congolese brothers and sisters, my internal bleeding would have likely killed me, and I would have lost my leg,” Judd wrote. “I wake up weeping in gratitude, deeply moved by each person who contributed something life giving and spirit salving during my grueling 55 hour odyssey.”
Describing her leg as “grossly misshapen” from being broken in four places, she went on to thank those who helped triage her injury and get her to safety.
“Dieumerci (“Thanks be to God”) remained seated, without fidgeting or flinching, for 5 hours on the rain forest floor. He was with me in my primal pain,” she wrote. ” Papa Jean: it took 5 hours, but eventually he found me, wretched and wild on the ground, and calmly assessed my broken leg. He told me what he had to do. I bit a stick. I held onto Maud. And Papa Jean, with certainty began to manipulate and adjust my broken bones back into something like a position I could be transported in, while I screamed and writhed.”
She also thanked the “six men who carefully moved me into the hammock with as little jostling as possible, who then walked for 3 hours over rough terrain carrying me out,” the two men who ultimately drove her to safety and the women who comforted her.
“Didier drove the motorbike. I sat facing backwards, his back my backrest. When I would begin to slump, to pass out, he would call to me to re-set my position to lean on him,” she wrote. “Maradona rode on the very back of the motorbike, i faced him. He held my broken leg under the heel and I held the shattered top part together with my two hands. Together we did this for 6 hours on an irregular, rutted and pocked dirt road that has gullies for rain run off during the rainy season.”
Judd told journalist Nick Kristof over the weekend she was in the Congo with her partner, who has a research camp in the area, focused on efforts to protect the endangered Bonobos. She said they visit the Congo often — about twice a year, usually for one month to six weeks at a time.
The accident occurred pre-dawn one morning while she and some researchers were making their way through the rain forest in the dark.