Saturday, March 30, 2013

Day 13: Part I - I.D.P.

Our view from the drive down

Our last day in Kenya was spent at I.D.P. (Internally Displaced People). It's more or less a refugee camp for tribal groups of Kenya. Every ten years there are elections in Kenya. They are divided by parties like American politics, but the parties are split by tribal groups. 

IDP from a distance - see tin roofs and community of buildings

During the election ten years ago, there were two tribes that were in opposing parties. To help explain this, imagine that you belonged to Tribe A and you lived in the same neighborhood as a person from Tribe B; one or the other tribe would try to run you out of your neighborhood. While in Naivasha the previous week, one of our dinner hosts told a story of escaping from his own church family that tried to kill him during the elections, all because he was from a different tribe. Lacking details and historical backgrounds of the tribes and politicians, that is all I understand of the situation which was the reason I.D.P. was established.
The elections for 2013 just occurred on March 10th. We have all been praying that the 2013 elections were favorable for the nation and the tribal groups living among one another. (I actually heard from a student of mine from Congo who said that the same president is still in office now, so that may prove to keep some peace for a while). 

Now that you understand some of the history of the peoples issues, we can talk about I.D.P. This is a small village in the flat lands below the mountainous regions where we had been staying. From the long drive down, we could see the sun shining on the tops of the tin roofs. Anywhere from singles, mothers and fathers with and without children live among each other as victims of the riots of the past elections. There is something to be said about the ability of the human spirit combined with the provision of God to survive the greatest of trials and tragedies. 

We visited the school of I.D.P. and taught them the Zacchaues song – I think all the children of Kenya know this song now! It was a nice tool to have in our belt since we visited several schools; it could be reused and it was appropriate for each place.

The typical classroom
The most prominent observation of I.D.P.: austerity. Everything was as simple as it could get down to the walls and the roofing. Basic trusses, Kenyan style, held up the tin walls and roof all resting on roughly 15 inches thick cement foundation. The children were much more reserved than the Elementary Mob in the Kikuyu school. They were somewhat somber. The obvious stares me in the face, they had probably experienced so much tragedy and loss that it rested heavily on their souls. 

Their joy wasn't as noticeable, however, they were content and grateful.

Remembering my thoughts and emotions of the anticipation of visiting I.D.P. – I was scared, unsure of what we would encounter, and hesitant. I had built up this I.D.P. camp to be a place of sick and pain filled people who would be in such need that it would suck all of our joy and energy away. It was quite the opposite as I described. I guess I assumed that seeing people living after a great tragedy, it would be chaotic and hopeless.

Is that my own culture coming to the surface? Is this a representation of the Kenyan culture and their ability to survive in all severity? What seems to be is that they had community and commonality of values; but what is most evident is God's blessing and provision for His children.

George and some kids

Distributing "sweeties" (sweet cookie-like crackers)

No comments: