|Kenyans displaced after elections still need aid|
A UMNS Report
Theresa Wanjiku, a widowed mother of three, is one of more than 62,000 Kenyans uprooted from their homes due to election violence last December. She works small jobs to support her family.
A UMNS photo by Melissa
By Melissa Hinnen*
Aug. 14, 2008
Theresa, a widowed mother of three, wakes up every morning in a crowded tent at a camp for internally displaced people in Mathare, Nairobi.
She has lived in the camp since January, after her home was destroyed during political and tribal unrest following the Kenya presidential elections last December. More than 1,000 people were killed in the violence.
Although the violence has subsided, more than 62,000 people remain displaced in settlements like that in Mathare. Many more of the displaced live with family or friends. The United Methodist Committee on Relief is providing assistance.
"UMCOR has not forgotten them," said Melissa Crutchfield, an UMCOR executive. "We are working in partnership with the East Africa Annual Conference, the Methodist Church in Kenya and the U.S. Agency for International Development to provide medical supplies, blankets, dry food goods, school supplies and more to help communities that are most in need across Kenya."
During the crisis, Theresa's home was burned to the ground. She now lives in a camp constructed on the Star of Hope Academy school grounds, just steps from where her former home stood. Her children, like many of the people who were displaced, are staying with family members until Theresa can find a new home.
Though she earns a small income, she is uncertain when she will have enough money to obtain suitable housing and care for her children. She is thankful for food, supplies and support from the Methodist Church in Kenya.
Churches step in
Because the government has expressed it will provide assistance, humanitarian agencies have wound down their operations and no longer distribute food and supplies, Crutchfield reported. The government programs are still not accessible in many areas, however.
“UMCOR has not forgotten them.”Communities of faith have stepped in to take responsibility for their neighbors. With the help of UMCOR, the Methodist Church in Kenya and the United Methodist Church in Kenya are serving hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people.
Lucy Kaindio, a coordinator for Methodist Church in Kenya, rhetorically asked who looks after the people now that humanitarian agencies are gone and the government is not able to respond fully. "Churches," she answered.
Churches are coordinating large-scale distributions of goods and supplies, in addition to working in small camps and unofficial settlements, assisting families and communities that have the fewest options. They are creating networks of care, providing host families, securing donations, arranging for medical care and setting up child care.
In addition to addressing immediate needs, United Methodists in Kenya are continuing to support small-scale microfinance projects to help rebuild livelihoods; HIV and AIDS awareness workshops; and scholarship programs for orphans and other vulnerable children.
Donations to assist UMCOR’s work with the displaced in Kenya can be given to International Disaster Response, UMCOR Advance No. 982450. Checks can be mailed to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. Write the Advance number and name on the memo line of the check. Online donations can be made at http://secure.gbgm-umc.org/donations/umcor/donate.cfm?code=982450&id=3019041.
*Hinnen is a staff writer for the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Displaced Kenyans live in limbo
Continued Kenya violence disrupts food supply
United Methodists respond to relief needs in Kenya
BBC: Kenya in crisis