Abandoned streets, boarded buildings, closed shops…this is not the Kibera that I know.
The Kenyan election was a week ago, and still our workshop has not re-opened and many of our friends are still in their homes, too afraid to return to work, to afraid to go anywhere.
This is not the Kibera that I know–the vibrant Kibera that is full of hawkers and vendors, of music and melodies, of traffic jams, and children snacking on sweets on their way home from school.
I have only been gone 12 days, but it feels like so much longer. This was the most I ever struggled with leaving Kibera. The night we left, I could barely say goodbye to the footballers because of all my tears, and as Edwin and I pulled out of the neighborhood, he gave the security guard 100 shillings ($1), nothing by American standards. But the man’s face lit up in gratefulness, and he asked us in Swahili, “Are you coming back?” Edwin just smiled and said yes, because we do believe that we are coming back. Of course the man did not understand that we weren’t coming back that night or the next day. And I cried, and I grabbed Edwin’s hand and I just kept crying. Because even though Kibera is dirty, I have seen beauty rising from the dirt in the face of each person GORP reaches.
And I am still crying because I do not want to picture Kibera the way that it is now, the way that the newspapers tell me it is, the way my friends say it is. Because these election protests are right by our building, these gunshots are right outside the homes of our Kenyan friends. Fortunately, today Naomi was able to make her way to the workshop and Skype with me. With no camera on our Kenyan laptop, I could only hear her, and every noise seemed to be amplified more than normal. I could make out some children playing next door and the hawks crossing overhead numerous times. She told me about stories she’s heard of men being pulled from their houses in the middle of the night to defend their area; she told me that it’s nerve-racking to sleep with gunshots piercing the night. She said she’s okay and the unrest has temporarily ceased but that they’re all waiting until morning to see what happens next. I asked her about one of the local election races and she said she didn’t know who’d won, and the winners were not her concern.
Her concern was for peace.
In another area of the slum, where many of our footballers live, things have been much calmer and people have been able to go out of their houses, but not always very far. Gomez, our goalie, told me he wanted to go to church on Sunday, but it wasn’t safe to leave Kibera, so they’d probably be having church in their house. And while I admire his positive spirit, it shouldn’t have to be like this.
Our concern is for peace.
Can you join with me in making peace your concern? Pray for Kibera, for people to be able to go back to work, for safety on the streets, for no violence, and for a renewed hope in God’s power.