Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Report 12 part 2 - Jan 8

January 8

Dear All,

Dawn Rubbert (AGLI Program Manager) sent me an Associated Press news article dated yesterday, titled "Kenyan Rivals Make Concessions" by Elizabeth A Kennedy. The article included the following:

"An official in neighboring Uganda said over the weekend, 30 fleeing Kenyans were thrown into the border river by Kenyan attackers, and were presumed drowned. Two Ugandan truck drivers carrying the group said they were stopped Saturday at a roadblock mounted by vigilantes who identified the refugees as Kikuyus and threw them into the deep, swift-flowing Kipkaren River, said Himbaza Hashaka, a Ugandan border official. The drivers said none survived, Hashaka said."

This is total nonsense. The Kipkarren River is where my post office box is and within walking distance of my home. If anything like this would have happened, it would have been the talk of the town. Bodies or survivors would have been brought here to Lumakanda Hospital which covers Kipkarren River. If this had occurred, it would have been one of the biggest massacres in Kenya since the election. I have told a number of people about this story (Gladys, Florence Machayo, people from Lumakanda Church) and all have said it is "lies." I asked Dawn R to contact AP to retract this article and she has done so. If you would also like to email Associated Press, the email address is info@ap.org. Unfortunately this misinformation has gone out throughout the world. I am sure that this story will be repeated over and over again, and particularly inflame the Kikuyu community towards retaliation. This is totally irresponsible journalism. So beware. Don't believe everything you read.

Back to the home front. The Lumakanda Church Relief Delegation went to the School this morning. At first the security officers would not let them in "unless they brought a little something." The Red Cross officials were not there. So they came back to our house and got the children's clothing, toothbrushes, and over-the-counter medicines that had been brought from the US by AGLI workcampers, then to the Machayo's house by Getry, and lastly by Alfred Machayo to our house. When they returned, they were warmly welcomed by the leaders of the camp. The delegation asked them what their needs were and were told "soap, salt, cooking oil, firewood, vaseline, sugar, tea leaves, and blankets." We don't really have any source for firewood. I have seen the kids going out to pick up small sticks for firewood and this is in an area with lots of trees, but 2500 people can pick an area clean of firewood in short order.

Gladys and I plan to go to Kakamega tomorrow and buy some of these items. We will then have to figure out how to get these back to Lumakanda. We are told that the banks in Kakamega are open, calling cards are available (but I don't know at what price), and the price for the matatu ride has increased from the usual 120/- to 300/-. [Note: /- is the sign for Kenyan shillings, 65-70 per US dollar.)

Florence Machayo came by today and we had a good discussion on the situation here in Lugari District. She came to see the District Commissioner who does not seem to be around. Florence thinks the Commissioner is afraid. Florence wants her to call a meeting of community leaders to discuss the situation, but if she is not available, how can this be done? Has the government here in Lugari District abdicated its responsibility to govern?

Today in Kakamega, Friends for Peace and Community Development (FPCD) has organized people from Kakamega Friends Church to dig latrines at the police station where there are many IDP's. There was concern about the sanitation at the site.

I just received 1000/- of airtime from Dawn Amos and I feel so wealthy!


David Zarembka

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