Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Longing for the Prince of Peace

Hey everyone,

As most of you know, I am involved with an organization that works in East Africa, and I have many friends there.Right now all of Kenya is in turmoil from post-election tribal tension. There is rioting, looting, and physical violence throughout Kenya, but is especially bad in the Kibera slum of Nairobi where Lahash works, and the violence is increasing in the town of Eldoret where we have a project and where my boyfriend is from. (Fortunately he is living and working in Tanzania, far from the violence.)

Basically the problems stem from the recent presidential election on Dec 27. The two main candidates were the sitting president Mwai Kibaki (from the dominant Kikuyu tribe) and Raila Odinga (from the second largest tribe of Luhwo). Through the first day or two after the election it looked to be a very close contest, but Raila appeared to be pulling ahead. Then suddenly the results were announced that Kibaki had won and he took the oath of office almost immediately. There have been many allegations of tampering with the vote counts, and some Western observers have expressed concern about the validity of the results. The Luhwo tribe feels that they have been cheated out of the presidency, and some members of that tribe began to lash out in violence.

Please pray for our friends, specifically:

* Mama Margaret and her family in Kibera

Margaret is a Kikuyu who lives in a Luhwo dominated neighborhood. She founded and leads Tenderfeet Education Center, a school for underprivileged children in Kibera, one of the world's largest slums. After being harbored by a Luhwo friend on the first night of violence, Margaret left Kibera to stay with her sister. Her husband is from a tribe that is not being threatened, so he has remained behind with their children. Their family is safe, but food prices have gone through the roof, putting increased pressure on many.

*Frank Atieli in Kibera (shown with my dad)

Frank is a Luhya (different from a Luhwo) and there hadn't been reports of violence against Luhyas, but we heard today that he was harassed by some thugs in Kibera today. His one-room home was looted, and some of his modest belongings were stolen, and his home was also damaged by fire. He has a very modest income from working with Tenderfeet Education Center, with which he supports two school-age brothers.

* Nick Kip Korir in Eldoret

Nick is from the Nandi tribe, allies of the Luhwo tribe, living in a neighborhood surrounded by Kikuyu. Nick spent several days hiding in the ceiling of his home, and while he was there men came in, perhaps looking for Nick, but not finding him, they instead ate his food and left. The father of girl who Nick's organization has helped is on the security patrol for Nick's neighborhood, and he has been looking in on Nick. Nick's fear has escalated to the point where he is considering making an escape to town from the slum, but that is at least as risky as staying in his home. One blessing is that Nick's family had traveled to Nairobi for the holidays, and are safe there.

I have not heard back yet from Bealy as to his family's safety, and we have not had any news about my friends Tabitha and the Angote family who all live in Nick's community. In addition to all of these friends are the huge number of young children and families who are assisted by Lahash partners, as well as the volunteers and other workers in these and other communities affected by the violence.

Please pray for my friends, for their continued safety, and that God would use them as redemptive agents of change in their communities in the aftermath of these events. Pray for President Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga, that they would be moved to do more to stem the violence sweeping the country, and that they would value peace over power. Pray for Lahash International as we try to anticipate the role our organization could play in the aftermath of this crisis. Pray for lasting racial reconciliation in a country that has known peace for many years. Most of all, pray that Christ, the Prince of Peace and the only source of true peace, would be present in Kenya.

Thank you, friends, for praying with me. It means so much.

Update 1/2/2008 10:17am

I just heard from Bealy and from someone who's spoken to Nick. Nick is now camping outside the police station with a large group of other people. Nick's wife and kids are still safe in Nairobi, and Nick has been trying to contact his parents and siblings who live in Eldoret. So far he has been unsuccessful, save one brother, who works in a hotel in Eldoret and is okay. Nick will be trying to find more information about his family tomorrow (Kenya time).

My good friend Edwin's family lives in Eldoret, and Nick had heard that they've taken refuge at a large missionary compound where they used to work. Edwin's father stayed at their home alone to defend it against looters.

Bealy said that his mom has taken refuge in a church compound in Eldoret. While it is encouraging that she is not alone at her isolated home, a church compound full of Kikuyu (her ethnicity) was burned to the ground by an angry mob in Eldoret about 36 hours ago. 35 women and children died in the fire. The compound where she is staying is swiftly running out of food and water.

Update 1/3/2008 11:55am

We got another update from Kibera. Although an increasing number of buildings in the slum have been burned and more people killed and injured, Daniel and Margaret are okay, and their home is still standing and the school has not been touched. Margaret is thinking of hiring a security detail and a truck to help move her personal belongings and the school supplies away from Kibera. Her husband Daniel has been helping a neighborhood patrol to protect their homes, which means that he hasn't been sleeping at night, and only for an hour or two during the day. Frank was attacked again today while trying to help some people, but not badly injured.

In Eldoret, Nick has been approached by a number of people seeking assistance, although he has almost nothing for himself right now. If you're interested in helping, you can donate here. We're trying to raise money for small care packages at $25 a piece to help these people who are running out of food and water.

1 comment:

Giancarlo said...

Thanks for including photos. I think it makes it easier to know the people/pray for them.