Anxiety, suspicion, hunger and pain amongst other reactions were written all over the faces of Chepkewel residents in Baringo County when BSK visited them to conduct trauma healing sessions and to give food and clothing donations on 5th April 2017. Children have lost parents and parents have lost children to the banditry unrest.
The residents have not known peace for some time (at least not in their hearts) despite the presence of police reservists in the area. Most of what they valued has been taken away from them; family, peace, livestock just to mention but a few. The good feeling of sleeping under a roof is no longer an issue as all they care about now is safety and food. The source of their next meal only God knows. No matter how good one’s sight is, spotting a green blade of grass is like an impossibility. Only dry shrubs and dry riverbeds are seen across the rocky terrain.
Women can no longer stay at home to cook for their children; in any case there’s barely anything to cook. The women are now herding a handful of the remaining livestock, the remnants of banditry, while the men keep watch in the valleys and keep their ears alert. Women herd in pairs; one on top of a tree while the other watches from the ground and in case of any danger they quickly send signals across the area to prepare the men for counter attacks. They never asked for nor deserve such suffering and hardship.
Mzee Chemursoi Chelimo walks in difficulty as his son holds on to his left hand and leads him to where our meeting is. His frail frame barely supports him. He doesn’t even have the energy to talk and his helpless stare tells of a person that has seen it all. His son, Mr. Chemjor informs us that the old man has not had anything to eat for a while and that he’s spent quite a number of days ‘sleeping’ in the bushes since they had to move from where his house was after the attack. We give him a packet of milk and with assistance he gulps down the contents and within seconds he looks back at us with an expectation of some more. He gestures his appreciation after receiving another pack of milk which seems to have an instantaneous re-energizing ability on him as he can now walk unaided to a seat under a tree.
Despite the heart wrenching experiences, determination to move on and overcome the current hurdles is clearly evident through the children and teachers in Chepkewel Primary School. The school had been closed due to insecurity but they somehow managed to re-open and create a ‘safe haven’ for the kids where they can continue learning and be fed through the extended food programme. Mr. Chelanga the deputy headmaster is troubled because he’s aware that the children will have no food once the schools close since the parents have nothing to feed the kids.
Just 7km from chepkewel camp is a larger camp by the roadside at a place called Moinonin, comprising of 427 households with at least 5 children in each household. The conditions in the camp are deplorable. Makeshift structures that act as houses are made of walls of twigs, mosquito nets and sacks. One can only hope that the rains do not find them there as there is nothing to protect them against torrents. There is not even a single tent. There are no toilets and some of the displaced persons have literally nothing besides the clothes on their bodies. Since our donations are already depleted by the time we leave Chepkewel, we only assure Moinonin people that all shall be well as we hold hands and pray with them and promise them that we shall look for ways of coming back to visit them. You and I can do something, in our own small and big ways.
As Ronald Reagan the 40th President of the United States of America said, we can’t help everyone but everyone can help someone. Let’s be kind enough to allow ourselves be used of God to bring hope, relief and joy to the needy by way of giving.
Proverbs 19: 17 “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed” (ESV)