An Update on Kenya
Sr. Ann McAllister gives us an update on the situation she described in "Forgotten People"
Since the Agreement between the two main political parties in Kenya was signed in February 2008 there has been some semblance of peace in the country. Following the post election violence many people were displaced and taken to camps, where they became Internally Displaced People. This produced a tremendous outpouring of help in the form of food, blankets, tents etc. The new coalition government set up a programme whereby people could return to their homes. However, we soon discovered that simply providing transport for relocation was not enough.
What would you do when you returned to your former home and found a burnt out shell and all your property destroyed? That your land was being planted by someone else who claimed it was theirs. How would you feel when you experienced hostility towards you?
We recently revisited some areas most affected. In Molo, we found people still traumatised and suffering greatly. Many people still fear reprisals and so stay together in make-shift tents of plastic sheeting. As the structures were no more than two and a half feet high, we entered on our hands and knees. There is no electricity and very little water for cooking or washing. Molo can be extremely cold and so we came with 180 blankets and 100 mattresses for the women in particular, many of whom have recently given birth. The image of these suffering people stays with me, challenges me and makes me uncomfortable.
Provision of blankets
During the worst of the violence, monetary donations came to us from Scotland and Ireland. Food, blankets and mattresses were bought to provide warmth from the cold damp ground, especially at night. A visit to another part of Nakuru revealed large areas where maize had withered because of lack of rain and so famine will be inevitable. The Chief told us that there are 500 people suffering from starvation and many more are hungry. Each time we give to people, we make it clear that we are only able to help because someone helped us and we ask them to pray for donors and their families.
Recently we visited a Kalenjin area where the people feel they have been neglected by both Church and Government. Peace and reconciliation will never occur when any community feels neglected. Today, 58 women received something and a further 50 will receive the same items of blankets, mattresses, nappies and sanitary napkins tomorrow. Many will not be able to return to their own homes again, yet I have not seen a real trace of anger or hatred from any of them. Heroic work has been done at local level. Churches an Church-related organisations continue to offer refuge and assistance to those displaced.
Most of the women with children are undergoing difficult moments and nightmares due to the cold weather which is mostly at night. It is too cold at the camps and they have nothing to cover themselves and their children, so we decided to provide them with blankets. We identified women with small children under the age of three and those who were pregnant.
Sr. M. Ivanna B. Ennemoser FMSA is in charge of the project from the I.M.R.S. funds. In the photograph Sr. Ivanna is giving a blanket to a young woman with a small child who had her house burnt down, her property looted and her husband killed during the skirmishes. She is currently staying at the camp where she feels very uncomfortable since there are twelve families to one tent.
The Rainy Season in Kenya
During the rainy season in Kenya the internally displaced people go through a very difficult time. The camping areas become so flooded that they have to remain standing during the nights because their bedding is wet. From your support we managed to get others out of the tents by pay for their house rents, but the number in tents is still large since we were not able to get them all out due to lack of funds. Please help us to do something about this situation.