|Jan 21 Greetings dear friends.
Just a brief note to you all from a turbulent Kenya. We are still safe in a
kind of oasis of tranquillity. We are very grateful for the good friends and
neighbours we have built up over the years. Unfortunately the anger does not
seem to be dissipating elsewhere in the country and there is still a lot of
unrest & tension which can flare up any time. If things worsen (the
opposition is calling for more protests this week) then it would not be safe
to travel to Eldoret or Kisumu to take a flight nor to Busia to cross to
Uganda. All three places are hotspots of violence. Although we have a bag
packed & our vehicle is full of diesel, it is unlikely we could go by road
unless we obtain an armed escort again.
The alternative is by air (small plane or helicopter) into Kakamega itself
which is how the Peace Corps volunteers were taken out at the beginning of
January. We have not reason to leave right now since we are only moving
around in the immediate area. Supplies are coming in intermittently and we
are reasonably well stocked.
There are shocking stories of police & mob violence which we are sure you
have heard and seen. An unanswered question is why special forces were sent
to the opposition areas even before the final 'result' was announced and
Kibaki sworn in suddenly and almost secretly.
Many believe that Ugandan troops crossed the border and are responsible for
stirring up much of the trouble and the consequent violence in Kisumu.
Even Kofi Annan has suddenly suffered from a bout of flu keeping him out of
Rumours are rife and the death toll is certainly much higher than reported.
There are apparently 250 thousand displaced people and many thousands who
have lost homes, businesses and members of their family. By law an autopsy
must be performed if death is from a gunshot wound, but the family has to
pay for this. Therefore many deaths will be attributed to 'accident' because
families will not be able to find the fee. Dead bodies are stacked high in
In Africa the majority of people live day to day with no reserves of money,
fuel or materials. So even one day without income means children go hungry.
One local girls' High School we know well has only received 30% of students.
Parents are afraid to let their children go because the situation is so
volatile. Many schools ahve been burned or looted in the 'demonstrations. In
addition transport costs have sky rocketed (double and even triple) and the
vehicles are unreliable at the best of times.
We are still working on wells and have a handover this week plus one that is
half dug. We are presuming that the container will eventually arrive and I
am planning for transport, storage and distribution. I am not sure we will
get our tax exemption in time for its arrival, however. Offices in Nairobi
are working at less than full strength and they are not speedy on a good
day. I am hoping that the container will in fact arrive before our planned
departure date. If it is delayed I will stay on if we continue to be safe so
I can supervise the distribution.
We have Virtues seminars planned for February. This is certainly an
appropriate training for the current situation and we are glad to have it in
place. The demand is high. We are hoping for funding for some of these
seminars from Mumias Sugar, the largest employer in Western Kenya.
Thank you to all those who sent a donation for the 'refugees' in the
Kakamega police compound. It was most gratefully received.