Tuesday, January 29, 2008

UPR Part 2

Dear Friend

We are safe. But around us the situation appears to be deteriorating rapidly. The newspaper today pleads for the leaders to find a solution as the country seems to be "racing to anarchy". You may have heard about the escalation of the violence in the last couple of days in ******. The stories we are hearing from the news and from work colleagues, of people's houses burned, of decapitations, of burned corpses filling the morgue, of many in hospital following horrendous machete attacks, and of groups of young men in control of sections of town with the police just standing by, it all sounds unbelievable and shocking.

We were considering making a business trip to *********. Thank goodness that did not happen as that was the day the violence started. The main highway was blocked, cars were stoned, and many businesses burned. The violence has spilled over into our community as well. Thursday night two were killed by machete attacks. Gangs of youth went through some of the poorer areas in town looking for members of the other tribal group, terrorising the neighbourhoods.

Two youth … shared with us yesterday how they were almost caught up in some of the violence when the police responded with live rounds of ammunition as they tried to disperse attacking gangs of youth. We were grateful that they were able to get back home safely… had to cancel church service. The deterioration in our situation has just made it too dangerous to be out and about. We have heard that youth have gathered again in town and the police have been trying to disperse them all morning. We have been hearing a lot of gunfire, some quite near.*****called us this morning to share that one of their workers was killed in a machete attack. Another was admitted to hospital seriously injured. So far these attacks have been inter-tribal …. so although we feel anxious, we don't feel in any direct danger as long as we're here ….. But we are very concerned for some ...who are members of tribes which are being attacked.

One...had to go into town while there was all this shooting happening. He went to move the family (business) as they feared that it would be set on fire. Others have asked for our prayers for members of their family who have had to flee from their homes due to the violence.

We are also trying to shield our children from what is going on. They hear the gunfire and ask about it. ***** commented, without any concern as he doesn't understand the implication of what he is saying, that people are going to come and shoot us. We thank God he doesn't understand what he is saying though it does show he is trying to process things in his little head.
Please also pray for Kenya, that the leadership would put aside their differences for the sake of the country and work for peace, truth, and justice.

In the words of someone in Nakuru as reported by Reuters:
"There is nothing we can do. All those who are fanning the violence are staying comfortably in their luxury homes while we burn," said Nakuru resident Urunga Maina, who rushed his nephew to hospital after he was hacked by a machete-wielding mob.
"We are being used as sacrificial lambs," Maina told Reuters. "What matters is that the politicians take what they want. They don't care about the wananchi (ordinary people)."

Please pray for Kenya, for us, our workers some of whom are living in constant fear, and that people would desire peace rather than violence.

Dear Friends

Please pray for us. The situation is deteriorating in ******. The police appear to have no control over the gangs roaming the areas. It appears that, due to excessive violence in other areas of the country, the police have been told not to shoot people. So the youth know that the shots are intended to do no more than scare them. The youth have therefore continued their rampage of violence.

There have been a number of people killed in town. The police have evacuated members of the minority tribe and have brought them to ******* for safety. One of our friend's is now there and has reported to us that several neighbours have been killed. Now that their homes are empty people are looting what they have and setting many places on fire. We have tried to contact a number of our friends … some of whom are members of the tribes being targeted. We have been unable to get in touch with some of them so fear for their safety. The police have called for a curfew tonight. We pray that it will keep the situation calm and that it won't explode.

Dear Friends

This is the third email you've had from us in one day, it must be a record! Actually, it is a sort of relief to be able to write things down to you so I hope you don't mind if we keep writing these updates. What a day it has been. We just can't believe what has been happening around us today. I've been feeling this huge knot of anxiety in my stomach all day and trying very hard not to show it to the children. At the same time, I feel guilty for being anxious when I know that there are so many people who have really suffered today, people that we know personally and I am fortunate enough to have a roof over my head tonight. The children have picked up on the fact that something is going on. I said to ******** that I wanted her to stay close by where I could see her today and not to go too close to the gate. 'Why Mummy?' She asked 'Is it because of the gunfire?' I said that it was. Then ****** says 'Why are those guns making noise Mummy?' How do you explain to children what's going on? I told him that there were some angry men outside so we had to stay safe inside the house today. Later this afternoon, ******** went out … to help … and ****** asked 'Why has Daddy gone to see those angry mens Mummy?' He doesn't miss a trick.

I think the thing that has shocked us so deeply about today's events is not only that it has all been happening on our doorstep but that it has been happening to people that we know personally. This morning, ****** rang me to warn me to stay inside as there was trouble going on. She later rang me to tell me that she had had to flee her house with her husband and children and was at the police station. I just called another …. “I am now a refugee at the prison. I was staying in a … compound but they (group of vigilante youths) chased us out and then took all our things out of our house and burned them'.

This afternoon ******** came to the gate visibly shaken. He could barely speak to us he was so afraid. He was waiting for his wife and children to come and join him from … where she works. ******* decided to go back with him to his house with the car to see if they could pick up some of his things. As they approached the main road they saw a large crowd of youths milling around. ******** didn't recognise them and said 'those people are very bad, turn back quickly, let's go to the police station.' At the police station …. there were hundreds of people. One … friend of ours told ******* that he had been confronted by a group of youths this morning who began beating him but he managed to run away. Another …. went looking for some missing children and confronted a group of youths in the process of burning a house. In fact they threatened to kill him until they realised he was (a certain tribe). He reported seeing several burned bodies lying around the area. ****** also said that there were lots of people walking along the road with bags and suitcases and strings of bewildered children following them. We're going to see what we can do to help tomorrow.

This evening I was walking back to the house and I looked up and saw big black clouds. I started singing in my head that song 'let it rain, let it rain, open the floodgates of heaven'. Sure enough it did rain, a heavy downpour. Perhaps not so good for those poor souls who had to leave their homes today, but hopefully it dampened some of the enthusiasm for violence.

We've heard tonight that the army has come into town and together with the police have stopped the violence for now and removed the illegal road blocks. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. There are rumours that people are going to try to set shops on fire in town. I hope and pray that doesn't happen.

Thanks so much to all of you who have written encouraging emails and texts to us. And thanks for all your prayers, we are very much aware of them, - you're being a lifeline to us. We'll let you know how things develop tomorrow.

Good night and God bless.

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for your prayers, emails, and phone calls. We do appreciate it! I just thought I would let you know how things are in ******* this morning. I understand the television has shown some scenes from *********. Maybe it is good that we are not able to see that. The international news has also confirmed the stories we heard yesterday from our friends, that 20 people were chased into a house which was then shut up and set alight. Apparently there were 11 children inside along with the adults. Of course the Kenya news keeps saying that only a few people have died.

We had a curfew last night. However, that apparently didn't stop some people. Around four in the morning we heard a lot of gunfire. Somehow it seems so much worse at night than in the day time as you don't know what is happening, where, or how close it is. [Actually, we didn't get too much sleep. ****** was restless and the gunfire woke me up straightaway. It was pretty scary]
******** woke up this morning full of questions. They were trying to understand why I had gone out with ******* yesterday to where those "angry men" are. ******* wanted to know why they don't leave. [I think they're picking up on our anxiety as they are very sensitive and having more squabbles than usual] This morning there have been more gun shots, not sure exactly where from. We hear on the news that the politicians still believe it is all about them and that they are throwing around recriminations and threats. They have unleashed something in Kenya which is much bigger than who won or lost the election. It will take a long time for those wounds to heal. They talk from their armchairs and luxurious homes while people die or lose all they have.

The human face to this makes it so much more tragic. …. yesterday …. ******* went to his house to see if he could collect some of his things. He'd fled the place in the morning with just the clothes on his back. We'd even considered going out again while it was raining so hard to see whether we could get to his house. But in the end we thought it would be too dangerous to go out in the dark. This morning we heard the news that ***** still has not been able to find his wife. Also, youths went to his place during the night and burned it down. ****** has lost everything!
It appears that much of the shooting we heard was happening (around us). Apparently there were a group of youth who were looking for members of the other tribe who live in this area. The police were made aware and came and shot to chase them away.

I've just been in touch with another of our neighbours… I was concerned for them…They are very frightened and got very little sleep last night. We have offered them what assistance they need. But what can you do when others are looking to do you such damage?

We will see today if there is more we can do for those around us so tragically affected by the situation which has overwhelmed this country.

Thank you again for your prayers and concern.


.... It has been hard to hear the stories of what they've gone through over the past 48 hours. This morning, ******* was barely coherent, he was so traumatised. We were getting him settled with somewhere to sleep, when suddenly he broke down and began to sob. It was heartbreaking…
I put my arm round (a young child) and gave her a hug. She nestled into me and gave me a shy smile - so hard for an 8 year old child to have to run for her life. They were all exhausted and hungry… Meanwhile, ****** have been dashing around finding food, blankets, sheets, etc. for them all. Fortunately… we should be OK for a while.

I have found this day hard. I'm tired and have felt tearful at times. I had to go into a corner every so often and pray hard that God would keep me strong and not get tearful in front of the kids or the others. I haven't felt very brave! I just wanted to say that your emails and texts have been such an encouragement to us. I don't know what we'd have done without them. Thank you, thank you. So far, all is calm tonight. We could all do with a good night's sleep so I pray it remains calm.

God bless.

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