Timeline – Political Unrest in Kenya

Baraka Farm Manager Jos Creemers says that one of the immediate effects of the violence has been an increase in the cost of food

Baraka Farm Manager Jos Creemers says that one of the immediate effects of the violence throughout Kenya has been an increase in the cost of food.

 

Bread and Water for Africa® news update on the how the political unrest in Kenya is affecting the Lewa Children’s Home, Baraka Farm, and KipKeino School:

April 15, 2008
Update from Kenya: During the political crisis that plagued Kenya this past winter, Bread and Water for Africa was in constant contact with the staff of the Lewa Children’s Home, Kip Keino School, and Baraka Farm.

As you may be aware, current President Mwai Kibaki agreed to shair power with opposition leader Raila Odinga. The violence that scarred Kenya is thankfully over, but the effects of this sad chapter in Kenya’s history remain.

Baraka Farm Manager Jos Creemers says that one of the immediate effects of the violence has been an increase in the cost of food: a litre of raw milk costs roughly between 30 to 40 Kenyan shillings (that’s about 24p to 33p) and vegetable prices are three to five times more expensive than they were before the violence.

Good fertilizer, so important for the survival and success of a farm, has also increased. While some farms in the area are using poorer quality fertilizer, Jos is using a fertilizer produced by a mining company in Kenya, which while slightly more expensive than the other leading competitors, is much better for Kenyan soil. This means a more productive farm and more food and revenue for the farm, school, and children!

Children from the Lewa Children's Home enjoy fresh milk made at Baraka Farm.

Children from the Lewa Children’s Home enjoy fresh milk made at Baraka Farm.

 

Jos also reports that despite the recent violence, the economy is growing at 3-5% a year and investors are still willing to come to Kenya. More importantly, the care of the children at the Kip Keino School and Lewa Children’s continues, and the Baraka Farm continues to grow and prosper!

Bread and Water for Africa will continue to keep you updated on the progress of peace and reconciliation in Kenya. Please continue to remember the children and staff of the home, school, and farm, and all of Kenya and your thoughts and prayers.

February 8, 2008
As most of you are aware, the political situation in Kenya remains very tense. Bread and Water for Africa has made it a point to inform you of how this is affecting the Lewa Children’s Home, KipKeino School and Baraka Farm complex.

 

Phyllis Keino, who tirelessly runs the Lewa Children’s Home, reports that at the present time the road connecting the town of Eldoret (where the complex is located) to the rest of the country is blocked by protestors.

They are from the majority ethnic group in the area which is targeting minorities. The children at the Lewa Children’s Home are from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, some have a mixed ethnic background and some children’s ethnic background is unclear. Phyllis writes that “all children, especially the ones going to primary and secondary school, are advised to use only their first names and to use ‘Lewa’ as their surname.” She also reports that some young adults who formerly lived at the home as children have returned as refugees because they are very frightened.

Phyllis Keino holds one of the more than 100 orphaned children living at the Lewa Children's Home

Phyllis Keino holds one of more than 100 orphaned children living at the Lewa Children’s Home

 

The KipKeino School has just reopened after a series of delays because of security concerns. It is encouraging that parents trust the school to keep their children safe and educate them into becoming responsible citizens who will not use violence to achieve political aims. However, it is still a struggle for students and teachers to get to the school and it may not be able to stay open.

Phyllis and the staff have tried to be a calming influence in the community and have already voluntarily distributed free milk from the farm to those who need it, especially to the hospital. But there are worries that such generosity may make them a target in the future and, if the roads continue to be blocked and food shortages occur, angry mobs may try to break into the complex.

Several steps have been taken at the complex to protect the children. Given the blockades on the road it is too hazardous for staff to travel from Eldoret to Nairobi to purchase supplies. In addition, the minibus is old and unreliable. So, for the time being, critical supplies will have to be delivered by air.

KipKeino School Children

KipKeino School Children

 

At this very troubling time for Eldoret and all of Kenya, Phyllis would ask Bread and Water for Africa supporters to consider making a donation in view of the urgent need to fund the increased security and transport costs. Together, we can make sure the children and staff are safe and secure and the vital work of the Lewa Children’s Home, the school and the farm can continue. We also ask you to keep the staff and children in your thoughts and prayers.

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January 8, 2008
My Dear Friends,
I know you have been concerned about my well being and that of my children. Thank to all of you for being in your thoughts and prayers. We all hope that the situation has calmed down and more important that there will be no more bloodshed. We all knew Kenya, as a young democracy, has its problems. I never expected our people would do something like this to eachother, on such a scale.

I would like all of you to know that I am fine, my children are fine. For them the confrontation is still to come when they leave the peaceful LEWA Home to travel to town and their schools.
– Phyllis C. Keino
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January 4, 2008

News update on the ongoing situation in Kenya: The situation in Eldoret, Kenya (where the Lewa Children’s Home, KipKeino School, and Baraka Farm are located) remains tense.

Food prices in the wake of the violence have risen quite precipitously. For example, milk which was only 25 ksh (Kenyan shillings, roughly 40 cents) last week is now up to 50 ksh (about 80 cents).

Despite all this, Jos reports that he, Phyllis and the children are safe, and that the Lewa Children’s Home has acted as a safe-haven for former residents. “Some of the children (now young adults)” he writes, “who grew up in the home and struggle to make a living have had their houses burned down, are now back in our home again because the churches are full. Some of them might have to be evacuated as well.”

There is still hope that sanity and peace will be restored to Kenya and the political leaders will realize that the events of the past week threaten to completely reverse over forty years of progress.
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3 January 2008
Children play at Lewa Children's HomeToday Jos emailed this update from Eldoret: “Please know that Phyllis is the one with courage, not me, she makes very dangerous trips to town every day behind army vehicles, to deliver milk to the victims in hospitals and other people who ran out of milk.

We all slept better last night, knowing that our visitors made it safe to Nairobi.

It is quiet in the area, and phone calls with people in Eldoret made me understand that it very much looks like a ghost town, with shops still closed.

From the Kenya radio stations I understand that they have started transporting refugees with buses to elsewhere.

More people are coming back to the farm to work, especially the ones living around the farm. Others have still no transportation. Or it is simple to dangerous too come from town to the farm.

More people are coming back to the farm to work, especially the ones living around the farm. Others have still no transportation. Or it is simple to dangerous too come from town to the farm.

Although the farm gives us a lot of work, it gets us through for now. We have so far no food shortages, children are eating well and playing in our garden most of the day.

Our worries are the small babies. Hopefully they do not get diseases that we can’t handle ourselves. Taking them to the hospital now is not only dangerous but the hospital is more than full. Yesterday Phyllis told me victims are arriving every second.

The work on the farm keeps our mind away from the horrible things outside, at least, a little bit.

Phyllis and I get up every morning at five. We try to eat something or at least have some tea. As from 6AM we milk the cows until 8 then we enquire about the safety situation and around 9.30 to 10 Phyllis is ready to go and meet with the army convoy who is at times also taking nurses into town. Unfortunately the Kenya Red Cross still fears to come this way to pick up the milk themselves. Until 10 I’m normally busy with feeding the cows and if necessary, treating some sick cows.

In the afternoon as from 2 work is back with the cattle again until 6 to 6.30. Feeding, watering etc.

At around 6-7 we have dinner, I’m lucky to have Phyllis around because even with the little available she can still make a terrific meal. By nine we are so tired not only physically but also mentally that we are happy to go to bed.

The nights are quiet here one does not hear anything other that nature’s sounds. It is the tension, or maybe the adrenaline that builds up during the day, that keeps us awake most of the time. Doing some physical work during the day makes one feel better again.

Phyllis normally comes back from town between 2-4 pm again behind an army convoy. Then she organizes the children. She does a bit of gardening and likes to cook to keep her mind away from the misery for a while. It is more difficult for her since she sees actually the dead bodies, the houses burnt down.”

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2 January 2008
As most Bread and Water for Africa® supporters are aware, political violence has recently engulfed the usually calm and democratic country of Kenya. The violence is the result of the recent presidential election in which the opposition candidate, Raila Odinga, accused President Mwawi Kibaki of rigging the election. Violence has also been ethnically motivated. Supporters of Raila Odinga, who mostly belong to the Luo tribe, have accused the president of favouring his own Kikuyu tribe economically and politically.

Just yesterday, in the western highland town of Eldoret where the home, farm, and school are located, 30 members of the Kikuyu tribe, including children, who were seeking shelter in a local church, were burnt to death by an angry mob. In the wake of this tragedy, calmer heads in Eldoret and the rest of Kenya will hopefully prevail. The head of the African Union, John Kufuor, is expected to arrive in the country shortly. The United States and other countries are pledging their full support to make sure Kenya remains a stable and thriving democracy.

Phyllis Keino holds one of more than 100 orphaned children living at the Lewa Children's Home

Phyllis Keino holds one of more than 100 orphaned children living at the Lewa Children’s Home

Bread and Water for Africa® has been in contact with the farm manager, Jos Creemers, and our spokesperson, Phyllis Keino. Jos states that he is helping to get European volunteers out of the area. On New Year’s day, Jos reported the situation was volatile stating, “people have taken the law into their own hands, setting ablaze the houses of those who, in their opinion, belong to the ‘wrong’ tribe or, as in the case of the father of one of our workers, because they voted for the ‘wrong’ party.” In his most recent email, Jos said that he is giving away free milk to people in need and, although the situation remained extremely tense, violence had begun to subside in Eldoret. Army troops have recently arrived from Nairobi, which has helped to rid the streets of angry mobs.

Thankfully, all the staff and the children at the home and farm are safe. He writes, “We are all good, all of us are scared as you can understand. The children very much feel the tension. The big ones are quite cooperative, but the small ones don’t understand what’s going on.” Jos, who is from the Netherlands, has decided to stay unlike many other foreign nationals. He writes “Phyllis and I have struggled for these children for more than fourteen years. I can’t leave her all by herself now. The children are so very close to my heart.”

Jos and everyone at the home, school and farm are extremely grateful for all the messages they have received from friends and supporters throughout the world. Jos asks all Bread and Water for Africa® supporters to continue to remember the staff and children of the home, school, and farm, and the people of Eldoret and Kenya in their thoughts and prayers. He also writes, “Please do keep on bringing our situation to the attention of your leaders. I am convinced that will help.”