Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Kenya from a Child's Perspective

Dear Friends and Family

It has been a while since I've written to you so thought I'd give you another update! Last week was rather strange. We've been feeling tired and demotivated which is probably a normal reaction! We did take a couple of days break though which has been good. We went to visit our friends who live in the bush again and played a mad game of Pictionary. Also, yesterday, we went to a nearby (and virtually deserted) tourist lodge to take the kids swimming. It was good to get out a bit. I must admit that the idea of going down to the coast at Mombasa for a few days seems very tempting right now, but not sure how we could work it out.

We decided to start the ....... again today. I sent a text out to the parents over the weekend and we were expecting around *** children. As I walked up to the school this morning with **** and ***** I felt quite down. I had no enthusiasm for the school and was feeling desperately sad that "J" our head teacher would not be there. I took **** and ****** into the classroom and as we walked in, there was a familiar face standing there – Teacher "J"!

I couldn't believe it, she decided to come back. The French company where her husband works is housing them at the moment (in a secure setting) and they are based just down the hill from us so she decided to come and be with us. It is still dangerous for her to be walking about on her own and in fact she told me that when she came back from Nairobi over the weekend and was dropped in town, a few people noticed her and said 'what are there still (a tribe) in town?' She was very afraid. We will now pick her up each morning with the school bus and take her home directly. ...... I was so happy to see J. again, it really made my day! Then the next nice surprise was that about *** children turned up, many more than we were expecting. They were all so excited to be back again.

All in all, it has been a tonic for me to have the school open again. I've spent a lot of time just sitting with the children and chatting with the teachers and staff. Everyone has their stories. We had a relaxed day with the children and gave them the opportunity to talk about 'why they had not been to school'. These are some of the things they said:

O – There was a battle between the wazee (old people) and the young people. The wazee feared to be cut so they ran away.

H – People were being cut and there was shooting so we feared.

I – There were policemen all over town so there was no room to pass so we stayed at home.

A – People passed by our gate with pangas (machetes) but we were not Luos so we were not hurt.

M – I saw a helicopter shoot some people and the people hit our gate with stones and the gate fell over.

C – I saw a helicopter and policemen with guns. Some cut a policeman in the face with a panga (machete).

L – I saw a police car and policemen with guns.

T – There were angry men just by the roadside and they were dying people. If you went to Nairobi you were safe, but not here.

We have now made a short term policy that we will no longer drive the school bus in the back streets of the various parts of *****, we will only pick up children from the main highway. However, **** had to drive into one of the bad areas in town as the message hadn't been clear to one parent. There were remains of burnt personal effects all over the place along with torn town telephone poles which had been used as road blocks.

We also have our cook back with us and ..... They are Kalenjin and live in ***** so again, we are taking them straight home with no detours. Some parents are complaining about this but we still don't think it is safe here, or rather, there is an illusion of safety. We have heard that leaflets are now being dropped in town telling the remaining non-Kikuyu tribes, who have so far not been attacked, that they must leave town. We are definitely not over this yet.

Sadly some of our non-Kikuyu children have not come back. We heard of one of our sets of parents who had all their things taken out of their house and burned, they even killed the dogs and burned them too. I was particularly friendly with ****, and rang her today. They are not planning to come back to ****** (not surprisingly), it's very sad. We're going to see what we can do to help them get going again.

Tomorrow ******* will have to make a trip to ******. We are still on our tourist visas which run out in a week's time so they will urgently need to look at the situation with our work permit.

Thanks again for all your prayers. Please do continue to pray for protection, both for us and those that we care about.

God bless.


Daile said...

I have found these accounts of living with the day to day reality of something I cannot even comprehend living with or in the midst of, to be very gripping. I find myself thinking about them, praying about them, trying to imagine watching the community I live in fall apart, fearing how I might behave in the midst of such life threatening circumstances.

In the end though, I realize that I do not know what to say or do. I read the accounts filled with ambivalence - fighting an urge to both know and not know the reality within which these people are living. This unsettles me - I am used to knowing what to do, what to say, how to empathize. In this situation my 'knowing' can have little or no impact. I know my empathy has little affect on anyone but me. I believe my prayers - all our prayers bring the matter before the face of God - but beyond that (and I don't mean to diminish the power or importance, of prayer) I don't know what to do. As a result I have said nothing (although I am blogging for the first time in my life) I am a person of words - spoken and written, and I usually dialogue with others about what has an impact on me - but about this, I haven't. That really unsettles me!

What I have noticed though, is that I am not alone in saying nothing. There are virtually no responses to the letters that have been posted sharing this situation. I find myself wondering why so many who in the past have had so much to say, have nothing to say about this. (And, I am not in any way suggesting that the topic, or the knowing, is not worth talking or knowing about!) Has anyone else noticed the absence of opinion, thoughts, feelings, comments? Why are we not talking and sharing our responses about this?

SoulPastor said...


Thanks for your post. I feel the same way. I am amazed at the lack of interaction concerning what is going on and the effect of what we read on our hearts. I guess it is easier to just ignore the feelings and move on to the next blog!

novice said...

Don't be too hard on us non-responders. :) The volume and content of the Kenya posts are pretty overwhelming.

For me, it kind of feels like any commentary I add would just be a distraction - the narratives speak for themselves. But then, maybe a few comments at the bottom could encourage people to stop long enough to read the whole thing.

Jean said...

I guess I have not commented because I am overwhelmed/surprised at the reality these Kenyan children face and how prevalent the police is in their reality. Disconcerted at how we take our own freedom for granted, and how priveleged we all are.
Don't know what to say.
Don't know what to do.

SoulPastor said...

You all have done what has been called for...sharing your thoughts even if it is helplessness!