The coastal town of Kenya is known for its beautiful beaches and wonderful world class hotels that attract many tourists both local and international. It is part of the country that many from other parts of the country dream to visit to enjoy the “dream” life. This image is what is sold by both the local and international media to the rest of the country and world. Yet the reality for the many locals in the interior parts of the coastal regions is a tale of terror, untold pain and deaths. The anguish, fear, loss, pain and desperation are shocking in the camps that dot Witu Parish. The question is why?
Fr. Cyprian Taah, one of our Mill Hill priest working in the parish of Witu, took me around to visit three camps around the parish. I found it shocking to see the state of the camps and hear the stories of those who lost close family members, relatives, neighbours and all their properties. Many are struggling to come to terms with the loss. Fr. Cyprian had organized for a volunteer counselor to journey with the traumatized and bereaved. But the people who needed assistance were too many for the one counselor. On our way out we found people struggling to get drinking water which is delivered only twice a week.
The media are not allowed to highlight the plight of these people in the camps. In the last one month alone over 15 people have been butchered to death, among them a 15 year old son of a catechist. Staying in the camp without basic amenities makes an already difficult life unbearable. The long historical land issues, the threat from Al-shabab terrorists and the volatile political situation make it hard to see a solution in the near future. For the children and women living in the camp, they have to bear the pain, shame and loss of not only their loved ones and property but their dignity as well. All they ponder now is why?
Philip Amek Adede mhm