Compassion Responds to Crisis in Kenya

Compassion Responds to Crisis in Kenya

By: Brandy Campbell   |   Posted: February 15, 2008

Hundreds of Compassion-assisted families fled fires and violence as their homes and communities were destroyed. Many now live in refugee camps throughout Kenya.

Stories of Crisis in Kenya

Today nearly a thousand Compassion-assisted children and their families crowd into refugee camps throughout Kenya. They should be getting ready to begin a new school year. Instead, they cling to their mothers' skirts, fearful of the men who carry machetes and torches. Few understand this tribal warfare that is ripping Kenya apart. But they all understand that now there are no blankets and there is no food and water. Here are just a few of their stories:

A Tearful Fear

As Compassion's church partners visited camps, looking for registered children and caring for their needs, what they saw was heartbreaking. In Kibera, Nairobi's largest slum area, there was 8-year-old Rachel Wangari, whose family lost everything in the riots. Rachel's story was so punctuated with sobs that her mother, Margaret, could only hold her and say the words embodied in her daughter's tears. "Kibera woke up in a night of horror," says Margaret. "We lost our home, and we are afraid to go back afraid of what is still happening."

Flaming Terror in Child's Memory

Moses Wainanain helped his parents and three sisters flee their burning home when the riots began. He still remembers the chaos of that night, the feel of the heat on his face, and the screams of his neighbors. "We didn't save anything because the fire was too strong. People were running around because they did not know what was happening. Not a single house was left in our community. Now, the only thing we do is depend on God."

Finding a Safe Shelter

Lucy Igoki was stirring a pot of beans and slicing potatoes when she heard dull thumps on the tin roof above. Lucy's mother tried to keep her family calm, urging Lucy to finish preparing lunch. But soon the air was filled with shouts and the acrid smell of smoke. "Suddenly, we heard people shout 'Fire!' We came out of the house and found out it was on fire," remembers Lucy. "I ran back in the house, grabbed my sister and the baby, and we ran for our lives. Everything was burnt. Clothes, books. We did not rescue anything. We ran and hid ourselves in the church, and have been staying there. I need your help so that I can go back to school."

More than a month after the crisis began, things are still precarious in Kenya. Project workers at 24 Compassion-assisted students centers struggle to make home visits to thousands of children, many of whom are still inaccessible because of safety issues. Compassion's church partners in Kenya have already spent thousands of hours tracking down displaced children in refugee camps across the country. Displaced families have been provided shelter, food, medical care, blankets and water. Compassion's long-term care will include constructing and repairing homes and churches as well as providing grief and trauma counseling.

Crisis in Kenya What Can You Do?

"Pray!" says Sidney Muisyo, Compassion Kenya's Country Director. "That is what you can do for us. This has been indeed a very, very difficult situation for the country. But in some ways it is also an opportunity for the Church to model what a community of God is like to the rest of society & we need to pray for the Church, that it will seize this as an opportunity to become relevant to the society."

You can also give to Compassion's Disaster Relief Fund. This fund will provide money for both the short- and long-term needs of Kenyan children affected by this crisis.

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