This blog has been–as it were–frozen in horror by the events in Kenya. At this point, I’d like to release it and rejoin the world, saying only a bit about the reports from the Kisumu area that I heard at the FUM board meeting in February.
We spoke by phone with both John Muhanji and Ben and Jody Richmond. John and Jody had visited, the day before we talked, some Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps near Mount Elgon. At one camp there were about 4,000 people. The caravan of trucks carried food and blankets, both of which were desperately needed. Unfortunately, the caravan only had 400 blankets, but 1 blanket for every 10 people had to be seen as an improvement.
Jody spent the day talking with people, using her training as a therapist to begin to help with the grief, shock, and PTSD the Kenyans were dealing with. There are pictures of this relief mission posted on picasa by FUM. John and Jody hoped to go back to the IDP camps once a week.
In early February, more than $70,000 in earmarked donations was sent to Kenya by FUM and helped to buy the food and blankets that were distributed.
Under the heading of “proud to be a humble New York Yearly Meeting Quaker,” I can report that the largest percentage of that amount came from individual members and monthly meetings in New York Yearly Meeting–a result partly, I suspect, of the steady coverage that the New York Times has been doing of the crisis. Many board members from southern or midwestern regions had little or no media coverage of what was going on and first heard of the events in Kenya through e-mails from FUM. A sad, sad commentary on the press today.
In the third week of March, however, PBS’s News Hour with Jim Lehrer had reports filed from Kenya by Margaret Warner. Videos of those broadcasts, as well as extensive additional material, can be found here. In one of those broadcasts, Margaret speaks of the deep Christian faith she finds among Kenyans and of their remarkable spirit of forgiveness.
Donations are needed, more than ever, to continue the work of distributing food, blankets, and other supplies to the IDP camps. They’re going to be there a long time.