|"May you live in interesting times." A Chinese curse, so
we are told, meaning that life is turbulent and the way ahead uncertain.
This has been a most interesting few months for Kenya. It has been rivetting to see democracy unfolding and power being taken into the hands of people. I won’t repeat the details of the corruption at high levels that has siphoned billions of shillings from the Treasury into the hands of individuals and politicians. You have probably heard of the fictitious companies, bloated contracts, kick backs to private bank accounts and to political parties to fund election campaigns. Not to mention the threats, thinly veiled, to those who want to uncover the misdeeds.
But there is a new spirit of determination amongst the people. They no longer believe the politicians’ protestations of innocence and scorn the handouts of bags of sugar and twenty shillings to win their vote. They want the corrupt officials (elected and appointed) out of office and gradually the government is bowing to the pressure. So far, four Cabinet Ministers have resigned, highly placed civil servants have been sacked, and we are waiting for the Vice President to give way. Former President Moi is not immune and his sons (one an MP) have had to hand in their passports and firearms.
Coming at a time when people and their cattle are still dying in the northen areas because of drought and famine, hundreds of students cannot go to high school because of lack of fees or because there are simply no places, thousands of teachers are still waiting for employment while grade one classes sit at 75 to 100 children, and roads become impassable in the rains, the people are seething with anger. Many still remember that at independence education through secondary was free, health care was provided and Nairobi City Council gave garbage bins to households and collected twice a week. Now garbage litters the broken surfaces of the streets and the residents of Nairobi are rationed for water. There has even been an appeal for private owners of boreholes to contract water supplies to the city.
Five years ago these revelations would not have been possible. Last week was the third anniversary of the revelation of the torture chambers beneath Nyayo House (the main government building in Nairobi). Protest was stifled and highly placed officials callously looted the funds that should have gone to the people. The Daily Nation has given extensive coverage to the revelations and there is probably no more than a handful of people who are unaware of what is going on. Everyone is waiting for the elections in 2007, always supposing the government doesn’t fall before then.
We are drawing to the end of our time here. I have a last leadership seminar to give this weekend and am putting final touches to plans for training my colleagues in the Virtues Project in April. This is an exciting undertaking that promises to bear fruit in the area. We are planning to bring a facilitator from Tanzania where the "Virtues" are being incorporated into teacher training. Maybe this could also happen here. I have completed the HIV/AIDS awareness teaching modules for primary to be part of the pastoral programme and will leave them with the staff of the model school to implement and refine. When I return we want them to give workshops to other schools in the diocese. The computer school is booming with two full classes a day and we now have six instructors and assistants. The increased income means that we can begin to purchase better computers, albeit second hand, rather than rely on shipped donations. Rotary wells five and six are on their way to completion, which we hope will be by the end of the month because the rains will start in March.
The only problem has been our vehicle, which still has things to repair. It is sitting in Kisumu right now and we are praying it will be ready tomorrow (Saturday) It is so hard and time consuming to get anything done, but we have insisted we need it. Visiting the well sites in remote villages will be impossible without it.
All in all, we shall leave on Feb 28 satisfied with what we have been able to do. We shall be in contact intermittently during March when we shall be in Australia visiting family. Our return to Canada is planned for March 24 in Vancouver. We can already taste the salads and fresh meats. Pizza is likely to be our first take out and we shall revel in opening the tap in the kitchen to take a glass of water.
I want to thank everyone for their good wishes and kind thoughts and prayers. We have been healthy and safe during our five months here in Kenya and we thank God for that.