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Not giving up

"Not giving up" Continued...

Issue: "The other campaign," Feb. 9, 2008

For now, he said, "Some children might move away; some may not be able to attend our child development programs until the areas they are in are completely settled in terms of security; [other] children will have challenges in terms of clothing, food, beddings, and school necessities. The organization also will have to rebuild its affected centers."

In many parts of Kibera nothing remains but ash and charred debris. Long buried tribal animosities, raised again by the disputed election results, have boiled over. Kenyans no longer trust each other and they have separated themselves according to tribe even in the refugee shelters, according to other church leaders working there. The tribal boundaries of Kibera are more clearly defined than before, and crossing those boundaries has life-or-death consequences.

After Waiti applied to the school of theology at nondenominational Carlile College in Nairobi in hopes of becoming a missionary, he was dismayed at first to learn that "urban ministry" was the only missions course available. As part of the course, students had to integrate into one of Nairobi's slums, and the school placed him in Kibera, found a house for him, and guided him in choosing and developing his ministry. "I cried. I hated myself," he now admits of his early assignment days. He knew nothing about survival in Kibera, with its tight rutted dirt lanes and ubiquitous impoverishment. With no choice but to adjust, he soon was eating food cooked in filthy conditions, walking through paths flooded with sewage, and studying by kerosene lamp. And learning to love its children.

Waiti in the month since violence began has been able to make only a brief visit to Kibera, seeing the wreckage from inside a car. His voice quivers at the mention of one familiar market area known as Olympic: "That road is flat. All those shops are flat." He expected to feel the tension, he said, but he did not expect such widespread devastation.

Waiti plans to be cautious when he returns to Kibera, and he knows he will no longer be able to enter certain areas. He also knows he must change his priorities. The greatest need for the children in Kibera is no longer good nutrition, he said, but it is to "train our children to be Kenyans and not Kikuyus and Luos." Until that happens, tribal tension and violence will continue.

No hiding place

Kenya's outlying villages remain dangerous

By Sarah Clark

AFP/Getty Images

The people of Londiani thought the worst was over. Gangs of young men, numbering up to 2,000, had already burned a third of the Kikuyu homes in the surrounding villages. The Kikuyu had packed their belongings and fled. Londiani now is more refugee camp than town. Those with no place to go or money to get out camp at the police station or at Londiani's Catholic Church. Kikuyus with a place to go and a means to get there have left, many for good. Geoffrey Kariuki left even though his house is among those not burned. He found schools for his children to attend in nearby Nakuru and says he "won't go back [to Londiani] for three or more months." Asked if other Kikuyu will return, he hesitates before replying, "It's too hard to forgive and forget." Another Kikuyu, Jane Wanjiru, left with her relatives and says they have relocated-permanently-to safer places. Wanjiru's mother, however, remains in Londiani, and she worries about her.

Nearly a month after elections and with the worst violence over, tension is high. Schools have not reopened and few people travel the roads. On the night of Jan. 19, following days of calm, houses on the edge of Londiani were suddenly torched and burned when soldiers protecting the refugees moved on to other areas. At least 10 houses burned while Kikuyu families at the nearby Forestry College, all hoping for a way to escape to a safer location, received threats: They would be the next victims.

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