Monday, January 7, 2008

Report 11 - Jan 7

January 7

Dear All,

This afternoon the committee appointed by Lumakanda Friends Church met at our house to discern the way forward. They decided that they would go tomorrow morning as a delegation to Lumakanda School to meet with the leaders of the camp and the Red Cross people. They will find out what would be the most suitable need that could be fulfilled given our resources. We have 31,200/- ($472) from Friends in Bristol, England, and the Sunday collection at the Church, which translates to only 12/- (18 cents) per person so we will have to focus on something doable. They will figure out what is best and then Gladys and I will go to Webuye on Wednesday and buy what is suggested. Then the Church members will go to camp, have a prayer meeting with the people in the camp, and give the donation to the Red Cross to distribute. Then we may do a similar thing the following week as way opens. Gladys is part of the delegation, but I am not.

Alfred Machayo dropped off the children's clothes, toothbrushes, and some medicines which will be part of the donation. Malesi sent a letter of introduction from Friends for Peace and Community Development and two T-shirts, saying on the front, "Friends in" and "Peace" on the back. Folks on the delegation will wear them.

In Kakamega, Friends for Peace and Community Development (Malesi, Janet, Getry, Peter, and others) are going to meet with the boda-boda (bicycle taxi drivers) who formed one of the main body of looters in that town. We will see what this brings.

When I was on my afternoon walk, I passed a young man, probably in his twenties, not very well dressed, who was trying to hawk a video. Of course I turned him down, but five paces on I realized that this was looted goods and he was probably one of the looters.

Yesterday evening, when I went to the School, I learned that most of the Red Cross workers had gone to Turbo for the food distribution that day. Turbo is the next town on our way to Eldoret and it was very hard hit by the violence. This is where it has been unsafe to pass for many days. I heard that the looters had cut down the big eucalyptus trees growing by the side of the road in order to block the road. Today I learned that the Red Cross workers had come back very late. They told me that instead of 15,000 IDP at Turbo, there were now closer to 20,000. Many were very "bitter" (the best translation I have for what was told to me in Swahili). I have also been told that this is the case at Lumakanda School. The food brought by the Red Cross was insufficient considering the large number of people in the camp.

I have been told that there is an IDP camp near Kitale with 21,000 people. While the paper said that there were 18,200 IDPs in Lugari District, the Red Cross worker, a woman full of the facts, told me there were almost 35,000 IDPs in Lugari District. The media has upped the estimate of those killed to 500 and the number of displaced to 500,000.

I hate to say it, but I told them so!!! (i.e., the numbers reported were too low). School was supposed to begin today, but was postponed until next week. What will happen to the IDPs at Lumakanda School when school starts?

I can no longer get BBC on my radio. I wonder if it has been jammed.

Prices in town for food have gone up 25% to 50%: except for meat. The town used to slaughter a cow every day, but now we are on the fourth day of the same cow so we are not buying. The point is that neither is anyone else so the price has not gone up.

Dave Z

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