JESUS CHRISTIANS NEWSLETTER #96, JANUARY 2008
Many of our friends and relatives are deeply concerned about the situation in Kenya at the moment.
We live in the middle of the most violent area, and people are dying in towns and villages around us (some from mob violence and some from live ammunition used by the police to quell the rioting). However, so far we have not been touched. As foreigners, most locals do not see us as the problem, since the dispute is between tribes within the country.
One of our members, however, is a Kikuyu, and we are deeply concerned for his safety. Local Kikuyus were given protective custody in the local police station for the first day or two, but then moved to a stronger police station in a larger town near here. We are all praying that he will be kept safe if the violence continues to grow.
Because the situation could change at a moment's notice, this report will probably be out of date by the time you receive it. And communication is such that we are only able to send it to a limited number of subscribers. The best way to get updates would be to check regularly with our website forum, at this link:
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Wow, what a busy month it was at Takatifu Gardens!
Christmas parties, gardening, computer classes, election observing - and now civil problems resulting from the elections!
With Cherry's gardening expertise, and a small army of volunteers, at least part of the gardens here have been transformed into well planned plots of blossoming bushes, beans, tomatoes and fruit trees. Our dichondra 'lawn' was not living up to expectation, with the hot sun and lack of rain, so we decided to transform the larger part of the area into something more practical - a bean plot! We also decided to plant in some garlic and onions as well, and they are all coming along nicely. They are good plants for areas with little rain.
Composting and mulching the garden also involved us doing some tidying up around the local area. Chewing sugar cane is a very big past time, and with most people just spitting out the remains on the ground (usually at the spot by the side of the road where they purchase it) there can often be very large piles of the remains left on the ground which can be pretty unsightly. So we took to the streets to collect, bringing in pickup loads of it to spread around the garden either to dig into the stony soil to help break it up, or to spread around on top of planted areas as mulch.
Towards the end of the month Dave and Cherry left us to continue their travels back to Australia. Their company and support was much appreciated.
On Christmas Eve we organised a games day for over 800 local orphans. Many volunteers made a special effort to be there that day to assist in the process. Sack races were by far the most successful activity for the children, though poisonball, basketball drills and three legged races were also appreciated.
Five of the international volunteers here in Kenya chose to be Election Observers during the general elections on December 27th. We were able to work close to home thankfully. While there was some tension during the counting of the votes (which ran late into the night) overall we did not notice any serious problems as far as rigging or intimidation of people. All the candidates and their agents were respectful of the democratic process and professional in conduct. It was a very long day for us however, having to be at polling stations by 5.30am, and the counting of ballots running until almost 2am! However it was a very interesting experience, and one we all felt was a helpful contribution to the community.
Unfortunately, however, in general terms, the elections have not been the democratic success that was hoped for. Amid allegations, and some evidence of rigging, the incumbant president, Kibaki, was re-elected to office. The opposition leader, Raila, maintains that he should have been the rightful winner. Opposition supporters feeling cheated of their victory, took to the streets in protest. Violent protests have ensued, with opposition supporters attacking Kikuyus (people of the same tribe as Kibaki) and protesters being shot as police and paramilitary attempt to control the situation.
Violence wasn't limited to the cities. Even our own market area became a riot scene minutes after the announcement of Kibaki's "victory". People with rocks stopped vehicles looking for Kikuyus to kill. Fortunately Kikuyus were able to seek the protection of local police without any being found by these mobs. A shop and a car belonging to a Kikuyu businessman were destroyed however. These Kikuyu people have been part of the local community for many years and are well known to the locals, which makes the attacks particularly shocking.
We are thankful that we have not been a target in the violence. But we may be affected by the lack of supplies, as there has been no movement on the roads for days, due to protestors setting up roadblocks. At this stage we have about three weeks' supply of food, full tanks of petrol, plenty of water, electricity and cooking gas. But we are already rationing phone communication, due to a shortage of phone credit.
We pray that Kibaki and Raila will negotiate rather than allow the problem to escalate.
Members in Kenya found it pretty near impossible to visit relatives for Christmas (although Christine had a nice visit with her parents!) However, elsewhere, most of our members were able to see their families sometime during the month.
Ulrike and Reinhard made a special trip to Germany, where they were able to each visit their parents and siblings, plus Reinhard's aunt, and Ulrike's grandmother.
Alf visited his mother and her partner on Christmas day, following a visit with his father and step-mother in the lead-up to Christmas. His sister and her family were also there for the Christmas Day visit.
Bob visited his mother and her partner in Manchester on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas).
Barry spent three days over Christmas with his family in Sydney, and Ross, who hasn't seen his family for about three months, is planning a trip to Melbourne near the end of January, so that he can see them.
The team in California was warmly welcomed by Jesse's family for Christmas celebrations.