Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Kakamega Friends Care Centre (orphanage) update - Sukie Rice 1/14/2008

Monday, January 14, 2008
From Sukie Rice in Maine

Dear friends,

Today I have good news and bad news. Since I’ve sent so much badnews recently, I’ll begin with the (well somewhat) good. Whew! I spoke with Dorothy Saturday morning and again today (a snow-dayin Maine so there’s no school) and I have been receiving many other emails from people in Kenya. Boiling it all down, this is what I hear:

The Situation
Things have definitely settled down considerably and transportation is now possible, although petrol is extremely expensive. Police are opening and protecting roads.

Example: On Thursday 20 bus-loads ofpeople and over 75 private cars left Kakamega for Nairobi with armed guards surrounding them and they got through safely. UN food aidtrucks are beginning to get through although there are FAR too few ofthem for the numbers of people in need. Most areas have not yetreceived any aid yet.

Shops are open a few hours each day and security is very, very tighton the streets of Kakamega. Some food is getting through and can be purchased--although at very high prices. A cabbage that was 20 Kenyashillings (30 cents) is now 90 ks ($1.20)

Care Centre:
The children are back! Schools are opening this week to help bring back a sense of normalcy.

Over the weekend the CC van driver Raymond went allaround getting the children and bringing them back into the CC.Dorothy said the children are very excited about being back at theCC, especially as many were without food. School was to begin tomorrow for elementary (1-8th grade) students, although not allteachers or students have been able to return for school opening.

The feeding program is resuming and they will be making extra for the many hungry children in the area.

Some high schools have opened for the older children, although not Form I students (freshman). [The academic year begins in January in Kenya.] High schools have normally had students of different tribal backgrounds, and students have all worked together, roomed together, played soccer together. Sadly, the Kikuyu students will not be going to the high schools in Kakamega at this time as they are all in protection refugee centres. This is extremely upsetting for them and their families that their children will be getting behind in school. It is unknown when that will change.

The Boys Dorm walls (exterior and interior) have all been completed and they were ready to put the roof on when the violence began. As soon as things are settled the construction will continue.

Refugee Centre in Kakamega
As you will recall from the last Up-date, about 3000 Kikuyus are holed up in the police station compound in Kakamega. All their homes and stores have been burned out. And many are there with nothing left at all except their lives.

Dorothy was able to purchase 100 blankets and 100 mattresses with the$500 we sent (she must have REALLY talked the shop owner down, as these together would normally be $1300). She said the people were so grateful.

A Friend says many church people are going to thepolice station now to visit and pray with them, extend friendship andbring in a little food. She says the Kikuyu refugees are so bitter at Kibaki for bringing this onto them. They say he may like being President, but he does not have a scratch on him while they are paying for his stance with their lives.

The conditions at the police station are deteriorating. There is only one meal a day of maize and beans and the very young children have great difficulty digesting this. Many churches took up a collection last week and brought $400 of food to the centre. Most people are sleeping in the open as there are few tents. Some have made make-shift shelters with black plastic and tin roofing .

While I was speaking with Dorothy today the rain had begun and it was so strong that I could hear it over the phone. “What will happen tothose poor people who are sleeping outside?” she asked.

Many Friends are hiding people, and she asks for our prayers that their homes will be safe. “We are trying what we can; we cannot see our friends suffer. They just want peace for their daily lives. Everyone is praying for one another that God will intervene.”

The Bad News
Things may come to a terrible head between the leaders. On Tuesdaythere will be what looks like a show-down at high-noon at Parliamentin Nairobi.

The Kenyans have a Parliament that works a lot like theBritish system: The majority side is called the Government side and sits on one side of the hall; the minority (or losing party) is called the Opposition and sits on the other side.

Because Kibaki considers himself President he plans taking his newly appointed ministers and taking the Government side, which would put Odinga and his ODM party on the Opposition side.

However Odinga plans on taking the Government side as he says he is the rightful winner of the election and has the largest number ofParliament Ministers in his party. Therefore that leaves Kibaki taking the Opposition side.

Plus Odinga has also called for 3 days of demonstrations Wed. thru Friday all across the country. I do not need to spell out the bloodshed that can come from such an explosive situation. Dorothy says all of Kenya is on their knees that these two men will not do this but will lead with peaceful means.

Kofi Annan is expected this week. But probably not in timeto stop this disastrous situation. PLEASE pray that this will be avoided and that these men will stoptheir provocative actions and try to move the political situation forward peaceably.

Noon Tuesday in Nairobi is 4:00 a.m. in Maine (EST).

Please join the many people who are praying over this period and that maybe Kofi Anan can do something to intervene.

Otherwise,” Dorothysays, “it will be a lot of hell.”

Not a Tribal Conflict
One final note.

Many people are thinking this is a "tribal" [or ethnic] conflict. Yes, it falls on "tribal," ethnic lines. But the cause of the conflict is not tribal. It is economics and opportunity; despair and frustrations; a growing divide between the very rich and very poor.

And the blame falls in good part on the ministers of Parliament andtheir system that says, “winner takes all and the others are all losers.”

There can be a rebuilding of the country: in friendships,major lessons, and a change of the political system. But it willtake a long time. We will stand by them.

In peace,

P.S. Next week (when the current political crisis has played itself out) I will write to you as to what channels you can gothrough to give assistance.

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