Posted by Jennie Duck. One of our foundation programmes is run in partnership with a school on the edge of Kibera, home to about 100 kids involved with the project and the scene of much violence during the recent upheaval. We estimate about 30-40 of these kids have fled to the Nairobi Showground area, which has become a refugee camp for people displaced from Kibera.
This morning, I met the programme’s social worker who told me, “The kids we’re supporting need the programme more than ever.” However, supporting them will be challenging because access to Kibera is limited – we are relying mostly on a local women’s group who support us and have unrestricted access to the township – and the school is closed until further notice, so, for now, we’ve lost that point of contact.
The best we can do is keep track of the children, watch the situation and start re-evaluating the programme as well as our approach to it. There are many issues to deal with, such as displacement, destruction of businesses, and deaths of parents and guardians. People will need to restart their lives and our support will be needed.
The violence has exposed tribal rifts, the wounds from which will take a long time to heal, and our role is to help the Kenyan children we work with to rise above these issues. We must also be prepared for more difficult times, because as the protests continue, so the desire for revenge between the tribes grows.
Paradoxically, most of the damage caused by opposition-led rallies has been in opposition strongholds. The ‘Pentagon’ – the five MPs who lead the ODM party that is disputing the outcome of the election – have their constituencies in the most troubled areas: Kibera, Eldoret, Kisumu, Rift Valley and Mathare. These areas are now a mess and face further destruction should there be retaliation.
The situation is fluid and it is difficult to predict what will happen next. It is a bit scary, and endlessly sad, that Kenya is facing this setback. Although we must recognise the long-term damage that is being caused, we must nonetheless remain positive. There are still good things happening; people are pulling together, speaking out and trying to carry on with their lives.
The cash machine I withdrew from yesterday told me, ‘KCB (the name of the bank) appeals for calm, peace and love from all to save Kenya’, and my phone network has messaged me, ‘Safaricom appeals to all Kenyans to maintain calm and peaceful coexistence’. This is the thinking of most Kenyans, who need our compassion and support as they start the long road to recovery.