Subject: Kenya update from the Graces
Date: January 3, 2008 4:59:36 AM EST
Please pray for Kenya. Much of the country is in turmoil following last week’s contested presidential election. Many have been killed. Many more have been injured and their homes destroyed. The disruption appears to be worse than at any time since the country’s independence in the 1960s. Most Kenyans cherish democracy and find it hard to comprehend the turmoil that has followed the elections. We are safe, but many are not.
Here in Kisumu, Kenya’s third largest city, most of the shops and businesses along the main road have been destroyed and looted. Many are now burned-out hulks, and looters are pulling metal for scrap out of what little structure remains. The transportation network has been
disrupted so many goods are no longer distributed. Queues are long to buy flour where people still can. Food and fuel are hard to come by. Cell phone air time has been sold out in Kisumu and elsewhere, so most people cannot even use their phones. There are also severe shortages in Uganda of fuel and other goods that reach that country through Kenya.
We had gone out of town for the election and following days to the Friends mission in Kaimosi, where things remain calm. With us were three visitors from the U.S.: Eden’s mother Lisa, sister Wendy and friend Chandra. Yesterday morning we returned to Kisumu. After a long queue at the airport we managed to secure three of the last four remaining seats for the day from Kisumu to Nairobi. Our visitors flew to Nairobi last evening and from there managed to board flights last night heading back to the U.S.
Last night plans were being made for most of the remaining Americans in Kisumu, including us, to leave this morning at 5am in a convoy with an armed escort to the Uganda boarder, to proceed to Jinja and stay there
until things are calmer in Kisumu. As we were packing to leave, plans changed six times during the night with the result that the trip was called off. We are presently in our house in the safest part of town. If things get less safe, we have an offer to stay a few blocks away in a high-security compound for U.S. government employees. We are not
worried for our own safety. The Embassy is sending someone tomorrow to hold a “town hall” meeting for all American citizens in Kisumu, which will hopefully be an opportunity to share ideas about safety in the days ahead. We feel blessed to be part of such a caring community in
The opposition leader Raila Odinga–whom many believe rightly won the presidency but had it stolen through election fraud–has called for a large rally today in the nation’s capital Nairobi. The Kenyan police have declared it illegal and have promised to block it as they did an attempted rally earlier this week. We expect some sympathetic action to happen here in Kisumu, which is Raila’s home base of support.
We have secured adequate food (much of it purchased in the Kaimosi area.) We somehow managed to find an open gas station and got a full tank of diesel fuel yesterday on our arrival in Kisumu. We were able to get some cash from a bank yesterday with our ATM card. One of our guests purchased some Internet air time for us at the Nairobi airport last night before leaving and relayed the codes back to us, so we should have Internet connectivity for a while. If the U.S. citizens in Kisumu need to be evacuated, we expect to be included in those plans.
The Embassy is sending someone tomorrow to hold a “town hall” meeting for all American citizens in Kisumu, which will hopefully be an opportunity to share ideas about safety in the days ahead. We feel blessed to be part of such a caring community in Kisumu.
We are planning to leave shortly, to spend the day with our American friends in the high-security compound. Depending on how the day progresses, we may also stay there one or more nights. Please pray that Kenyans are not shooting Kenyans today in the country’s capital, and
that a spirit of peace may come to the rest of Kenya as well.
We appreciate your prayers and many email messages of concern and support. We’re sorry this is a generic reply to so many of your heart-felt personal messages, but we are trying to conserve our Internet connection in case we can’t get more air time. Please know that we are so heartened to hear from you all, and to know that you are thinking of us. We are not afraid, and hope you can replace worry with
Jim, Eden, Isaiah and Jesse
Eden Grace’s Report from Kenya