Kenya Update 2009 (3)

This will be our third and final installment on the blog for awhile updating you on the current situation with our partners in ministry in Kenya. In the previous two I caught you up on the latest happenings at the Pamoja Orphanage in central Kenya as well as updates at the Pistis and Racefield Schools. We have a number of other partnerships and will not be able to give fair treatment to them all. Today, however, I would like to highlight one more project and one individual who The Crossing currently partners with in East Africa.

Internally Displaced People (IDP) Resettlement Camp

You may remember the news coverage of the tribal violence that erupted in Kenya just over a year ago. Same old African story, new verse: during the presidential election, it appeared as if the incumbent would be defeated, but in an 11th hour miracle, Kibaki (the incumbent) was announced the victor. The supporters of the challenger cried foul and violent battles ensued across the countryside between the tribesmen of the incumbent and the tribesmen of the challenger. Much of politics in Kenya is divided purely on tribal lines. When the smoke cleared, 1500 Kenyans were dead and more than 100,000 had been displaced.

The families and communities that have been displaced are all members of certain tribes that found themselves in hostile territory after the tribal violence. They had lived as neighbors with rival tribes for years until the country was torn down the middle by the election results. During the violence the people in their community who they worked with, had grown up with, and were friends with turned on them in violence. They were forced to flee and live in temporary settlements far from their homes. Many are still there more than a year later.

One such settlement is in an area known as Jikaze – about an hour from Nairobi, the main city-center in Kenya. The Crossing has begun a new partnership with this camp within the last year in an effort to provide the most basic humanitarian needs. There are about 1000 people currently living in the camp, but the irony is that more are actually coming to the camp because it has been a relatively successful IDP camp, in part because of The Crossing’s support.

One example of our partnership thus far is the purchase of few donkeys and a cart. Donkeys? Yes, donkeys. You see, the women in the community would spend the majority of their day walking the 1.5 mile round trip several times to collect water for cooking and washing. How can you develop a better life when you spend your whole life fetching water? With the introduction of donkeys pulling a cart, just a handful of individuals can gather water for the entire community, leaving others free to work towards developing other facets of their existence.

The next obvious step is to establish a water-collection system on the site of the actual camp. Thus, in 2009, The Crossing looks forward to working with the local Kenyans in an effort to install rain water collection tanks for the displaced community.

Eric Apel

Eric is a young man with a tragic, but incredible story. He is the oldest of 4 siblings that were all orphaned a number of years ago. Eric took on the responsibility of raising and providing for his brothers and sister. His younger sister, Dorothy, is mentally handicapped. She was sexually abused by a neighbor a couple years ago and as a result of that rape, she became pregnant and had a baby girl she named Mary.

Dorothy lives in a boarding school for handicapped girls, Mary was accepted to an orphanage earlier this year. Eric’s two other brothers both attend school and school fees are constantly required.

It is an incredible amount of responsibility for a man in his mid-20s. What is truly incredible, however, is that despite all this, Eric serves as a committed deacon at New City Fellowship – a church in Nairobi that we have a close relationship with here at The Crossing. He directs the Student Ministries at the church (my Kenya counterpart) and serves in many other capacities as well.

Eric has been attending school in order to earn a Microsoft qualification certificate. He has already put his computer skills to work by starting a cyber-café in Southern Sudan. He raised the necessary funds himself, transported the equipment, and established the business. He spent 3 months training his replacement manager, and has since returned to Nairobi for his school term. Pretty impressive.

The Crossing partners with Eric by funding tuition and some living expenses for he and his family.

Eric is, again, a great example of the kind of partnerships we look for as a church. He has a proven history of committed service to his church, he is a Kenyan deeply committed to the betterment of his fellow Africans and has shown personal initiative in launching projects that further this end. We are excited to work with him, as we are with all our great partners in Kenya.

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