Kenya Emergency - Rongai Report / Feb. 2008
Thursday, January 10th

Kenya Emergency - Rongai Report / Feb. 2008

It's 8 AM. I and my staff are ready to leave the office in a bid to give humanitarian aid to the displaced people. This time I wanted to go out of Nakuru. (head quarter of Childcare Worldwide) So we take a drive to Rongai. Rongai is in the Baringo areas. The drive takes about one hour. At the horizon we are able to see clouds of smoke. These are houses being torched in broad day light. I had received news the previous day that many villagers were camping at the home of retired Major General Njoroge. Much as he is retired, he still entitled to a 24/7 armed security personnel. His home is therefore a safe place for many villagers.

More that 500 people have sought refuge in this home. Most of the displaced were previously working in the informal sector in the town. They have expressed fear over returning back to their workplaces and appealed to the government to evacuate them and facilitate a safe passage to their homes. Since this is still not possible, they need General Njoroge.

For lack of housing, most of these people have been sleeping out in the open cold. Many children and women alike have also found shelter at a cows shed. At least there is some shelter above their heads. After all they are safe here!

Among the victims are at least 20 young mothers. They were forced to abandon their wares after being threatened by fellow traders/villagers. When we asked for a comment from the General he said, “Now the situation is getting out of hand and I can no longer afford to cater for the large number. I am appealing to people of good will and the government to intervene,”

Mrs. Kamau, a mother of six, who settled in the town more than 20 years ago, said that on December 31st, a group of youths went around asking all those who were not indigenous to the area to leave immediately or risk their lives.

Moments later, looters descended on the property left behind by these people. Armed with machetes and clubs, the looters broke into abandoned houses and seized valuables left behind. They swept everything on their way including beds, clothes, food and utensils. House roofs are being brought down and iron sheets carried away.

The children and adults alike have grown accustomed to the sound of gunshots fired in the air by police to scare them off.

Most of the inhabitants in this village have fled to safer places with the majority escorted to Nakuru by the military. Some livestock left behind by the owners wander in fields while others are slaughtered by hungry neighbors. Others are devoured by wild dogs.

Wambui's two cows were driven away by plunderers as she watched. The previous night she escaped death miraculously. Wambui, a staunch Christian, had just prepared dinner for her children. This was on the 30th December night. Just before going to sleep she started praying. The prayer took longer than usual. At some point, she wondered why the long prayer that was not ending….. Little did she know that gasoline had been poured round her mud house with the intention of setting it ablaze. The arsonists tried to light fire in vain. When this failed, they started hurling stones at her house. It was at this point that she smelt danger outside. Wambui and her five children had to now leave the house through the window. Wambui was pelted with stones injuring her face seriously. She could not carry her young baby for fear of being pelted with stones. The arsonists then walked into her house, looted every little property that she had labored for and took off. Wambui's baby was not harmed. Later, in the early hours of the night, Wambui found her way to her house and got her baby. The following day she sought for refuge at the ex – soldier's home. Inspite of all these, Wambui is so happy that she is alive. And that all her children were not harmed. Further, that her house was not set ablaze. This is a miracle she will never forget.

Much as calm is being regained in most parts of this country, many people are hurting. Lives and property have been lost.

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