‘Two minutes saved my life’

Lawrence King'ori

After a crisis, life changes in incredible ways.

Like I found Lawrence King’ori casually seated inside a police station, something few would do in an ordinary world. But this is no ordinary world. This is Hindi town in Lamu, Kenya. For nights the 60 year old would rather book himself inside the cold gates of Hindi Prison than sleep in his house.

It’s twisted I tell you. In fact, Lawrence has not been to his house since July 5th, the fateful night. On that night a gang of about 50 men was marching towards his house when his neighbor alerted him. He ran, ran and ran.

“Two minutes saved my life,” says Lawrence.

I would say he’s been running since, as gory images haunt him every day. He wanders around the town as if to try and feel normal again.

What-remains-Lawrence-Hindi
What remains of Lawrence’s possessions – a set of clothes that he stores at a relative’s house near the town centre

Lawrence previously lived on the fringes of Hindi, where a dozen residents were razed.

He reveals how life is shaping up now. . .

How are nights like at the prison compound?
Children cry at night and there are many disruptions, but we’re slowly getting used to it. You talk to the one next to you, until you drift off.

Why won’t you sleep in your house?
I cannot. The few times I tried to go back, I got a sickening feeling and my legs refused to carry me any further. I had to turn back. My neighbors who attempted, say that they saw fresh footprints in the area.

Would you return when your attackers are freely roaming about?

Describe the emotions you are going through
After what I saw . . . The things that happened to people I knew. .  It’s a mixture of anger and fear.  But you have to suck it all in, as a man, what else can you do?

Lawrence King'ori

What is your most urgent need now?
Food. In the morning we drink some black tea as we walk out of the prison gates. On some days, that is all we have for the day.

What happens to your farm now?
Even with a lot of food, it cannot help me. I have left it for the wild animals. I cannot return.

Lawrence is among 3,000 residents spending nights at Hindi Prison who bare cold nights, and though they have farms with ready produce, they now have to depend on relief food to survive.World Concern is currently assisting the most vulnerable groups. 

We need you, reach out. Please get in touch with wconcern@wcdro.org.

Lamu: The unfolding of a crisis

What started as an ordinary crime to the unsuspecting mind . . .

edwin kuria  edwinkuria  on Twitter3

. . . quickly turned into a disaster. A situation was unfolding right in front of us, and in seconds social media went ablaze.

I was tracking it all, silently hoping that security personnel would arrive quickly enough to stop the madness. But that took a long while, on a long and agonizing night.

Mpeketoni distress call

Mpeketoni calls

Too numb to call any of my friends, I made a chain of incoherent uncoordinated prayers, already shaken to do much else. Yet journalists were yet to unwrap the horror that residents went through, and they did a few days later:

Larry Madowo  LarryMadowo  on Twitter

Larry Madowo  LarryMadowo  on Twitter2

Despite heavy deployment of security personnel, the armed bands of about 50 men have continued to prowl on more defenseless men executing them in cruel fashion. Today marks day 40 of an unending scene of real life horror. The impact is massive.

I witnessed it a week ago, when World Concern set up camp to assess and assist hundreds of displaced people. Even though some humanitarian organizations have exited the area, it is time to respond! Residents need help now. We cannot sit and wait when lives of people less fortunate than us are at risk.

For me, this is a chance to respond to the likes of Boniface who cried out on that night. It is a priceless opportunity to assist families who have lost their fathers, and all they care about.

edwin kuria  edwinkuria  on Twitter

I interviewed Catherine, a young mother who bore a beautiful baby on the fateful June 15th. She bore her right at home, because she couldn’t dare to step out. But she named her Mapenzi. Now Catherine is doing all she can to feed and keep her baby, warm; but it’s not easy.

I spoke also to elderly farmers who left their animals caged more than a fortnight ago, but they have not returned to their farms since. Now they roam around town centres like paupers, some dressed in the same clothes they were in, that night. You have limited options when all you escaped with was your life.

They live in fear. At night, about 3,000 men, women and children seek refuge inside a prison. Imagine that. . . Here, they sleep on cold cement floor each night, or out in the open. On some nights rain falls, but the halls are too full to occupy anymore. In fact, rain pours into the hall through the dilapidated roof.

Roof - Hindi Prison

Arriving-for-the-night-Hindi-Prison
A family arrives early for another night at the previously unused hall at Hindi Prison
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Early arrivals book their families’ space for the night

What now?
In the next few posts, I will share some of these stories with you. Real life experiences of brave men, women and children who are doing all they can to survive. They are trying. But they desperately need warm clothes, tents, medicine, food-including food supplements for children and psychological support.

Currently, about 5,000 people are seeking refuge in 4 IDP camps: Mzee Kamenya (80 households), Ndeu (86HH), Mzee John Musembi center (38HH) and Hindi Prison (505HH).

World Concern is in Lamu responding to this emergency crisis, and we need your help.

Do you have skills, or life-saving supplies that can support these families in some way? Please get in touch with wconcern@wcdro.org

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The cause of the current crisis in Lamu could be a complex tussle for resources which has manifested itself in the shades of religious intolerance, politics and terrorism – leaving behind a trail of disrupted lives, livelihoods . . . and a thick cloud of tension on what lies ahead.

By Edwin Kuria