Sue & Richard update 28th October
Greetings once again from Kenya. This is the usual (for this trip) mix of news about Millicent, politics, and what we’ve been doing.
Millicent first. She had a good flight to India and is being well looked after at the hospital. She has undergone thorough tests as a day-patient, and she let us know today that she will be admitted on Monday (30th October) for the operation on Tuesday. Please pray: this is major surgery which is expected to take 4-5 hours. Millicent is in good spirits and is just relieved that at long last she is close to having something done.
Then the politics…. When I wrote on Tuesday, we were not even sure that the election planned for Thursday would take place. It went ahead, but the opposition’s call for a boycott was heeded by many, including practically everyone in the area where we are staying. In fact, there was a good deal of violence in the towns around here, which effectively prevented anyone from voting even if they wanted to. In view of this, the Electoral Commission announced that they would hold the election instead, in the affected areas, on Saturday, a move that provoked even more violence. We stayed out of Ahero, the local town, on Thursday. The normally busy road outside the Care Centre was deserted apart from a few motorbikes. We ventured into Ahero on Friday morning (our local advisors said it would be OK) to find that the road was partially blocked by rocks in several places, the remains of Thursday’s events and in preparation for Saturday’s re-run. There was also evidence of tyres having been burned in the road. Many of the shops were closed: we did our business and got out quickly. Later in the day, while at the Care Centre we saw three army trucks packed with soldiers, and water cannons, heading for Migori, a town near the Tanzanian border, where there had been a lot of trouble. We were greatly relieved to hear, late in the afternoon, that the proposed re-run on Saturday had been called off: it was an unpopular move that would have undoubtedly led to more violence. We feel that many people’s prayers have been answered. Today, this area has been quiet: Eric has even been to Kisumu today – he has not felt it safe to go there for several days previous to this.
However, Kenya’s troubles are not over. Mildred, the manager of the Care Centre at Ongata Rongai in Nairobi, has written a very disturbing e-mail today, describing how five of the children (in two families)who normally live at the Centre but were staying with relatives in Kawangare, another area of Nairobi, were caught up in tribal violence on Friday night. Gangs of youths, some supporting the government, some supporting the opposition, went on the rampage, burning homes and businesses and committing atrocities. The division was clearly on tribal lines. The two families concerned were safe, but only because in one case the security gate prevented a gang breaking in. The gangs were demanding that the residents get out or risk being killed. Mildred has brought three of the children back to the Centre, and two others have been sent ‘up country’ to a rural area by their grandmother. This is just one area, of course, but it is a symptom of how tense and divided the country is. Mildred said she went out to the local market today and heard people ‘speaking in undertones’, along the lines that ‘we’re ready if they start anything’. Uhuru Kenyatta won the election by a huge majority, of course (the opposition having pulled out) but there is no feeling that the election has settled anything.
We have also just seen a news item about increased tensions on the border between Kisumu County and Kericho County – just down the road from here and on our road back to Nairobi. We trust this will be settled before we need to travel in a couple of weeks’ time. Please pray for peace, because most Kenyans are fed up the with violence and the politics: they just want to get on with their lives again.
In the midst of this, we have spent a good deal of time at the Care Centre here, which is always a pleasure. We feel blessed to be able to be with these lovely children, who have had such difficult backgrounds, but are now secure and happy in a loving Christian environment. They are not perfect, of course, but I would defy anyone with a heart not to be thrilled by their company.
We have started the process of sorting out the books ready for the library, and in the process have discovered quite a bit of unsorted paperwork which will keep us occupied for a few hours. The children at the Centre have been busy writing their thank-you letters to sponsors, decorating them enthusiastically and also doing some lovely drawing and colouring work. We’ve also enjoyed playing various games with them – they love draughts, and many of the younger ones are very good at the classic matching cards memory game.
By the way, if you have a picture in mind of children writing their letters in a pristine environment, have a quick re-take. Instead, imagine an open roundhouse with a mud floor, a table with six or seven children around it, goats and chickens wandering around outside – oh – and a large swarm of bees was discovered yesterday. There is electricity, but no running water, so if you are a sponsor and your letter looks slightly grubby, please remember the circumstances under which it was written, but be sure that it was done very willingly with real appreciation. These children, though they have difficult family circumstances which has led them to Mier Pamoja Care Centre, are very well cared for by the lovely staff at the Centre.
I think that’s about it for now. Another update next week, God willing. Thank you for your continued interest, support and prayers.