10th Update from Connie
It is always hard to leave Kenya but today it is especially hard to leave. Not only will this Kenyan team forever be in my heart but there is still. sporatic violence in the country in some parts of Kenya and so many people are homeless and thousands are hurting. The GOA pastors and leaders are overwhelmed with requests for help. The Bishop had over 100 pleas for help on Friday – for food, shelter, water, etc.
I want to summarize this week for you and tell you what the team recommendations were to the Bishop. A team of 32 Kenyans travelled on a bus with Kennedy driving and George and Bennet taking the lead with the lorry loaded with rice, maize flour, medications, diapers, blankets, sanitary pads and soccer peace balls heading for Eldoret. We visited 11 Internal Displaced Persons (IDP) camps.. The team delivered the food, blankets, etc. We conducted medical camps and offered VCT testing for HIV/AIDs. SN led the youth in discussions of peace as he established teams for soccer. We saw over 22,000 men, women and children in these camps.
This humanitarian trip costs 20,000US. These funds were from the immediate responders – Roswell United Methodist Church, Beth Casey, David Gruber and the Munkles. With these funds GOA had already given food and supplies at two IDP camps last week.
Also GOA bought a small piece of land and built several temporary houses for displaced families. The people are moving in now.
I have pictures for each of the donors to show how their funds were used on the ground to provide relief assistance. Thank you to these people who I believe certainly made a difference in many people’s lives and probably saved some lives.
First. I would like to share what GOA’s response to this crisis has been. All GOA pastors were asked to respond from their churches. They have from the beginning collected items, coordinated placement of displaced people, fed people. etc. Over 1000 displaced people are being housed by GOA pastors and congregations. They will continue their efforts for those in need as well as refer people to the Kenya Red Cross where Red Cross can help.
After travelling into one of the hardest hit areas (Eldoret)) and talking with the people living in these camps, the pastors who have been the intial responders and continue to be mangaing camps, orgainizing relief efforts for thousands of people, seeing the conditions ourselves and talking with Red Cross officials and meeting with Mary Mugo who was called by the President’s office to go to the camps to assess the situation the team gave the Bishop the following report;
1. It is impossiible to explain in words and even in pictures the suffering that is occurring right now in Kenya by so many people.
2. The violence that people share is unthinkable and has grieved even the professional counsellors, the police chiefs, and the pastors. The people hearing the stories are asking for counselling and need support. Our dear Mary Mugo cried as I could only hold her as she wept for those she had seen.
3. The people of Kenya even the children have responded! From the GOA pstor in Eldoret who I will never get out of my mind and heart who had the entire community around him burnt and he struggles to help the suffering to the pastor who had 10,000 people at his church the first week of the crisis and now has 2,000 sleeping there and 2,000 more coming for food everyday, And if you think these numbers are exagarated I can tell you they are not. Every camp we went to the pastors showed me the records – every person registered using paper and pen. Kenyans are emptying their closets to give their clothes. Everywhere people are trying to help.
3. The pastors of Kenya are the only ones who know where everyone is. Even the Red Cross is relying on the pastors to tell them where all the people are.
4. The Kenyan Red Cross is responding but they are overwhelmed. Even though they had disaster plans in place the lead psychologist who I had breakfast with in Eldoret told me they never expected the number or intensity of this relief efforts.
5. Because it is Red Cross policy not to go in until the violence is stopped the first week of the intense violence the support and help was provided by police, pastors and individual people. If you remember for example Laban had 20 people in his home for refuge the first week. The Bishop’s brother has taken in 10 people to a very small home and given them their clothes.
6. Many Kenyans have taken in displaced families and seperated children. That does seem the preferred response. The Red Cross will provide food and some medical help for families who take in another family.
7. The Red Cross will provide help through food assitancce and the IDP camps but does not assist in resettlement. That will the Kenyan goverment.
8. People have left their communities in the thousands and will not return they say. We saw whole families walking from Eldoret with their luggage on their backs. Another sight forever in my mind was a small girl with a trunk on her back walking along the road with her family.
9. School throughout the entire country was stopped because of the violence. A whole Nation of children stopped doing what in Kenya they love to do and want to do – go to school. The last day I was here the children returned to school. It was a wonderful sight to see children in school uniforms walking to school. Remember in Kenya children walk to school there are no big yellow school buses.
10. Not only were churches burned but schools were burned. In Eldoret 7 schools were burned.
11. The entire country of Kenya has been affected. Food supplies, fuel costs are all higher because of the inability of the trucks to move supplies. I don’t think I spoke with anyone including the Bishop who did not have a family member affected.
12. People are concerned of many dying in these camps. Except for the kenya Red Cross managed camp all the camps we visited had serious public health risks from unsafe water to complications from the elements due to lack of shelter and fear of outbreaks of diseases due to lack of bathing, toliets and men, women and children sleeping side by side. We met a Red Cross team already starting measle vaccinations.
13. Once the Red Cross sets up and manages a IDP camp all the basic needs of the people are met. There is no organization in the world that do as quickly and as well as the Red Cross in relief work. The problem is the sheer magnitude of the relief work needed. The others were having food drops and not even all of them were having that. Red Cross will get there but maybe not for two more weeks.
There are three parts of this disaster:
1. Immediate need response – remembering the hierarchy of human need for shelter first, then water, then food, then comfort needs. This immediate need was met by pastors, police and individual people. Kenya is still in the process of meeting immediate needs for some displaced people.
2. Resettlement including housing and work for people to sujpport themselves. There are 300.000 people displaced. Most do not want to return to where they fled from.
3. Peace and healing – most importantl for kenya to retore the country.
After much prayer the team’s recomendations to the Bishop were:
1. GOA pastors will continue helping by responding meeting immediate requests where people present at the church hungry, hurting and homeless.
2. Help with resettlement when the congregation or pastor takes a family or a child in.
3. Strongest area for GOA is in peace and reconcillation.
The GOA Plan to continue their response:
1. GOA churches will continue to respond as they have from the very beginning. Collecting items from congregations and giving them out to those in need, giving the items to the Red Cross for distribution or coordinating with Jane for delivery with the lorry truck.
2. The Partners for Care apartment will be used to gather items for distribution. Njokie will manage the inventory. She will also work with Penny to contact people, companies, organizations for donations or items at discount. Penny is a gift from God. She attends Christ Harvester’s Church in Marietta, Ga. and we became friends there. She is on the Leadership team at Christ Harvesters.. She travelled to Kenya returning for a visit after 12 years. While she planned on volunteering for Partners for Care she did not plan to work full time with us. Last week she was on the team travelling to all the camps. She now is on the GOA respnse team. An example of how this will work is thanks to our wonderful partner Vickie Winkler, RN, Founder of HEART kennedy is picking up 830 bed-nets. They will be immediately delivered to those in need. We also have 8,000 oral test kits that will be used for testing for HIV/AIDS.
3.. Kennedy will be responsible for coordinating delivering of goods.
4. Jane along with the social workers will receive the requests from the pastors for their needs and make decisons of what needs to be delivered. GOA will not duplicate efforts of the the single relief agency repsonsible for the response the Kenyan Red Cross. GOA/Partners for Care social workers will go out to the regions and meet with the GOA pastors to both provide emotional support and also to connect with existing services such as Red Cross where those connections have not alreay happened. Social workers will assist the GOA pastors as much as they can.
5.. GOA will send to the camps the Praying for Peace bus. .You can tell from the email updates what is happening in Kenya breaks our hearts and at time so overwhelms us we feel hopeless but then there apears God out of nowhere we see Him and we are reminded when we see Him that there is hope. Most American don’t know Kenya like those of us who have met the Kenyans and seen their love for God. Yesterday out of almost no where there appeared this young man who sang a song he wrote called “Praying for peace in Kenya”. God clearly revealed to the team what GOA churches and those of us who partner with them can do to help Kenya with healing. The thousands of people we saw in these camps need to hear this music, need to worship, to pray. The GOA Peace bus with this young singer will travel from camp to camp. Along with him will be Samuel another musician, our beloved Kennedy and Simon, SN will take the PEACE balls to use the miracle of a simple ball to bring boys and girls together to hear the word.. Pricilla, Ann, Nick, Charles and Joyce (our new volunteer from Liverpool) will provide VCT services especially for women who have been raped. The team will work with the local GOA pastor who will bring worhip leaders. If funds allow they want to take healing bibles for the people. Many asked us for bibles as they have lost theirs in the fires. This Praying for Peace team will spend a half day at the Internal Displace Persons Camp worshipping, praying for peace, testing for HIV and sports for the young people. They will bring supplies as funds and resources allow. The team will wear white shits saying Pray for Peace as the symbol of peace and the bus will have banners on both side that say Pray for Peace.
It will cost $2,000 a week to keep this Pray for Peace bus moving from camp to camp. GOA is an indeginous church group and will need our support as partners for their humanitarian response to the crisis in Kenyan.
6. Pasor Muturi will be holding peace and reconciliation seminars in the affected areas. This is one of the most important part of GOA’s response – promoting peace and healing. GOA is uniquely postioned to do this. And Pastor Muturi is the man God has clearly called to do this. He and his wife had to evacuate from Eldoret due to violence that was threated against him and his family – but he returned with us to Eldoret not fearing for himself but called from God.
Pastor Muturi, Director of Peace and Reconcilation and Jane Cheng, Director of Hurting and Homeless are directing this effort.
I can tell you God could not have put together a more committed, dedicated and passionate team to do this work. He made sure the team had all the skills and talents needed from music to spiritual this team is prepared.
All my time in the camps when I saw the faith in God that He would bring peace to their country, that He would their retore lives and when I saw the tremendous response from those without much giving to those who had less I was reminded of Bishop David’s words ” you never know God is all you need until God is all you have”.
Thank you all your prayers. I felt safe and covered by the blood of Jesus. I have been blessed and changed from this experience. I know it was hard on my family for me to be in kenya when they heard so much on the news and I appreciate their faith in God that I was where I was supposed to be. My part is really NOTHING compared to what our brothers and sisters are dealing with. Everynight I slept in a bed, I ate every meal, I have clothes…..the only thing that I suffered is my heart. So when you pray pray for those in kenya that are responding in a way that Jesus will someday reward them.
Praying for peace and healing in Kenya,