No winners, only losers

BBC reports that families made homeless by the uprising in Nairobi are camped out in a Nairobi Air Force base. Al Jazeera writes poignantly on Kenyans who are now sheltering at Jamhuri Park in Nairobi. Food supplies are scant, enough to last for 2 or 3 days. There is also a lack of cooking equipment presently people are sharing the few implements that are available and the women complain that their children are cold.

Scarce food supplies

Like the many camped here, Makungu and her children are relying on the Kenya Red Cross Society and charity for food.

“The Red Cross was here a few days ago and donated maize flour. They gave us enough to last us at least two or three days,” she said. “When the Red Cross does not come to help us and there are no well wishers, we have to just sit hungry and wait.”

The women do the cooking in turns. There is only a handful of cooking pots – we only see three while we are here.

But not everyone in the camp is lucky to get sufficient food.

Alice Akinyi’s family of 10 say even if they were to receive two packets of the maize flour, it would not be enough to feed them all for even a day.

“My eldest son went out yesterday and brought back some vegetables for me to sell to the others camping here,” says Akinyi as she sits outside displaying withering kales, onions and tomatoes.

“But the people here do not have the money to buy my vegetables. I now have to cook the vegetables for my children.”

Families separated

Abigail Kidakwa, a mother of four is camping in the park with two of her children. She considers herself lucky to have taken her older children upcountry for the Christmas holidays.

They were supposed to return to Nairobi in the first week of January when schools are scheduled to resume. But now she has no idea when she will be able to reunite with her children and settle to normal life.

“I do not even know where my husband is,” she said.

“When the rioters set ablaze [homes] adjacent to my house in Kibera, everyone ran in all directions. My two children and I followed the crowds that were running towards the (Jamhuri) park. But I have not seen my husband since we got here. I do not even know if he is still alive.”

The stories are dishearteningly similar. There are pregnant women here, as well as women with very young children. The youngest is only two weeks old. The mother, Margaret Wanjiru, says that she is relying on other women in the camp who are taking pity on her and giving her food for her and the baby.

She has no husband and no parents but was living in Kibera with her grandmother, with whom she escaped.

But all those living here share a sense of despondency at the political situation in the country.

“We performed our civic duty and voted for our preferred candidates, all we want is for our country to move on but not this [violence],” says Janet Makungu.

The International Medical Corp reports that up to 5000 families are camped out here. Like Kibera’s and Mathare’s residents they do not have any income as most are day and casual labourers.

Lillian Munene, a 27-year-old orphan who takes care of seven relatives, including a sister living with HIV/AIDS and her disabled child, said they have been sleeping rough.

“If I had somewhere else to go I would, but I was born here,” said Munene, who depends on odd jobs to support her family. “I cannot find work now and we are going without food,” she said, appealing to both Kibaki and Odinga to reconcile so that the violence can stop.

“Kibaki does not know me. Raila does not know me. Both men are sleeping and eating well while we suffer because of their differences,” she added.

DFFID have donated £1 million in humanitarian aid which is to be dispensed the Kenya Red Cross.


3 Responses to “No winners, only losers”

  1. 1 JamieSW January 4, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    Hi – thanks a lot for this site. I know very little about Kenya, and I suspect I’m far from alone in that, so this should prove a v. useful resource. One thing: maybe it’s just my browser, but the grey text you’re using for blockquotes is illegible for me against the black background.

  2. 2 athenaeum January 4, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    Thanks JamieSW. Do check the blogroll for what Kenyans are saying, Im in London and blogging from here means that I am going to be removed from the ins and outs of what is happening on the ground. I’ll see what I can do about the text and correct that. Thanks for your input.

  3. 3 JamieSW January 5, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    thanks – much better! 😉

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