No children were seen playing during our 2hr visit
Kenya experienced post-election tribal clashes after the 2007 disputed elections that left many families homeless, lost properties, and means to a livelihood. May also lost land since they could not remain in the hostile regions they had lived in all their lives. Those families that had an ancestral home elsewhere relocated back and those with some savings bought small plots mostly measuring 50ft by 100ft and settled there but with no arable land, it meant that many became destitute all of a sudden. However, the majority of the displaced families had nowhere to go and solely depended on the government effort to resettle them.
In one of these resettlement projects- Kirathimo IDP Camp a group of 144 elderly persons who had nowhere to go was moved to the border of Nakuru East and Mirangine area located 1.5 hours’ drive on torturous roads in a scenic hill with biting winds overlooking Lake Elementaita. SOHF was invited to visit the area by a representative of persons with disabilities who explained the plight of the villagers who resided in two camps ½ kilometer apart that is Kirathimo 1 and Kirathimo 2. The team planned two trips back to back one on 18/09/2020 and 25/09/2020. On these two trips, a friend donated his 4x4 tour van to be used for the distribution due to the rugged terrain.
Located on a hilly outcrop, Kirathimo IDP camp is a bad place to be for an elderly person and persons with disabilities. All shelters in these camps are makeshift some made of UN shelter box tents and others made of blue iron sheets that had been provided by the government to put up mud-walled shelters. The residents here were brought by the government in the year 2013 with a promise to be allocated a plot in a piece of land that had been acquired for resettlement purposes. However, politically connected persons had an interest in the land and demarcation never took place, and as such the IDPs cannot proceed to construct relatively permanent dwellings from the year 2013 to date.
In these two camps over 80% percent of the population is over 70 years old, sickly with old age complications made worse by hostile living conditions. Many of the elderly persons have lost a spouse and depend on well-wishers for survival while some of them have been joined by their relatives and are sharing makeshift homes. The nearest health center is 10 kilometers away and without a public transport system, it is almost impossible for the elderly to get to the hospital.
Children in this area travel 14 kilometers – 7 kilometers either way, to the nearest public secondary school, while the young ones trek 8 kilometers -4kms each way to go to school while many of the children that should be in kindergarten do not go to school. What caught our attention most was that in the two hours we were in the camps on each occasion no children were seen playing, instead, they sat in small groups looking subdued, a clear sign that the children were not having enough to eat. Sanitation is also a challenge with raw water being the source of drinking water and toilets are makeshift as well.
On these two days, we distributed 150 food hampers to the elderly, persons with disabilities most of whom are bedridden and vulnerable persons as well. These beneficiaries are very needy and can do with more support both in-kind and psychosocial support.
Our food hamper program was an unbudgeted, unexpected additional expense. However, the more that we realize how great the need is among the elderly and people living with disabilities, the more committed we are to keeping the program growing. We thank you for your kind and generous continued support.
A sign that they were not getting enough to eat
Kirathimo Internally Displaced Persons camp.
Some of our elderly recipients waiting patiently
A makeshift UN shelter tent. Still home13 years on