Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Rebuilding Life Brick By Brick - Nakuru Womens Stories of Survival after the Post Election Violence (Part I)

My home town Nakuru is still picking up its social and economic pieces after the Post election violence. The town was adversely affected last year when insecurity heightened and a curfew was imposed to reduce the number of casualties.

I would like to take some time and talk about a few Nakuru women and their stories.

Today I pick a very special lady for her strength and will to survive.

Mama Ng’endo IDP from Londiani

Mama Ng’endo is an IDP from Londiani near Kericho.

She barely escaped death with her 5 children when aggressors burnt their home down without warning. Good Samaritans got them to Nakuru.

Her husband had left that morning to look for work; she had no idea whether he made it out in time.

She got to the IDP camp set up at the Nakuru Showground and registered her name just in case her husband came across it. But looking at the swelling crowds and rush for food she opted to leave the camp to seek help outside.

She went from house to house begging for food or clothes. She knocked on our gate one day at around lunch time. We welcomed her and shared some ugali and vegetables as she narrated her sad tale to us. Her main worry was her husband – she went to the Red Cross desk almost every day but there was still no word. We all tried to stay positive and encourage her.

She had her youngest child on her breast and he looked up at me with these huge eyes sad and tense; I could not begin to imagine what the child had witnessed in the few past weeks.

After the meal we gave her some supplies and a little money to help with the rest of her children and wished her well.

We learnt later that Mama Ng’endo’s husband didn’t make it.

She had little time to mourn as she now needed to focus on how to support her children. My dad helped her with a little capital to start up a liquid soap business. She is very committed to the venture – the returns though are paltry but it is a start.

Mama Ng’endo’s soap is quite effective and we use it a lot in the house.

She is now a frequent visitor here.

She set the kids up in a little shack in Ngacura near the local school so they can get on with education.

Whenever she visits, she always has a ready smile and a warm greeting. My heart reaches out to her but she likes to focus on light and happy things. I want to sometimes hug and hold her and tell her things will one day be alright. Instead, we share a cup of tea and chat about general things. She hardly complains but you can see in her eyes silent suffering.

I admire her spirit.

Sometimes, one sees a trace of sadness in her face when a dark memory fleets past and she stares down at her hands, willing tears back then she looks up with fierce determination getting on with the chat slowly regaining her composure…

I would like to celebrate Mama Ng’endo today. She constantly fights against remaining a victim of the cruel events that took place in the recent Post Election Violence.

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