After have a very successful mission to Uganda [for Friends United Meeting--FUM], I received a telephone call from the [Turbo] District Commissioner (DC) at mid-night on Sunday asking me to join them get the IDPs from the Eldoret show ground to their homes. The DC told me that he had been to the camp and the IDPs were hostile to him because he has not been with them at all. The IDPs told the DC the only people they know who have been very helpful in ensuring that they resettle to their homes are the District Officer (DO) and the Friends Church. He was given my number by the DO and the IDPs would like to meet me from the Friends church and the DO on Monday morning. I was very tired and I needed a rest after a long week full of activities. I tried to give excuses not to go or sent someone else, but the DC said, "You have done a lot for these people and I believe you are the only person who could make this day a success. I accepted reluctantly but at the same time I asked God to give me energy and wisdom on how to deal with the situation.
I left very early in the morning on Monday 16th for Eldoret show grounds. I met the DO and DC waiting for me. We went to the camp and met with the people and when I talked and prayed for them, they willingly went and started pulling down their tents ready to leave to their new station closer to their houses which had been destroyed. Lorries (trucks) were provided which carried them to the place. As they were pulling down their tents, we went to see the place where they were relocating. We found that there were no rest rooms and water nearby for the people as they move there. At this time the DC had left us with the DO. We called the DC and asked him to provide funds for the toilets and water, but he never came to us again. Time was moving and nothing was taking place, I felt frustrated and I called Eden [Eden Grace from FUM's Kisumu office] and asked her to send me Kshs.40,000 [$667] to use for the process. Eden responded very fast, and I started rolling things in action. The toilets were put in place, water was also connected after buying pipes that pulled water which was 200 meters from the location. I also provided food to those people who worked on it. I also enable the connection of electricity from a nearby hospital which provided light for security. I got a wire that was also 200 metres and its accessories. It was as if I had calculated the exact amount that was required for the work available. I left the camp at 8.45 PM when the camp was having water, rest rooms and lights in a very short time. The IDPs and the DO felt encouraged and supported and the people felt that indeed the Friends Church is a true peace church that cares for the people. They commented that we have been very helpful in the process and they have seen that we are the only church that has not taken the process for granted but as a duty. They saw integrity in us and wished this church could stay with them all the time. I also used the same money to buy fuel for a government vehicle the DO was using when it ran out of fuel and were using it to carry logs and other things. They could not get the money from the DC to do anything. I felt encouraged and energised to see that we could offer a new life of hope to people who have been feeling hopeless.
I slept in Eldoret unexpected because I came knowing that I will be going back to Kisumu. The following day we went to the show ground to see those IDPs from the same place who had remained. As I arrived in the camp and went round the makeshift tents, all those who had remained came out and started pulling down their tents in readiness to join their counterparts who had left the previous day. Since everything was already in place I blessed them and asked them to move in peace to the new place. At this time I was needed for another meeting in Kisumu at 2.00pm. I left Eldoret at 11.45am and I was in Kisumu for the other meeting.
The program which the Friends Church Peace team has been doing has caused a big impact to both the communities of the Kalenjin and Kikuyus. These communities had no clue before that the Friends Church had such values in peace and reconciliation. The DO continued to say, If it was not the Friends Church which I have hidden in their wings, I would not have penetrated or made any progress in resettlement of the IDPs."
Friends, your prayers and support has been seen and heard and we encourage that we continue with the same spirit of support. There is a lot of responsibilities remaining to ensure that we continue with bonding relationship activities between the communities. The resettlement continues this week and next week.
After a very successful resettlement of IDPs on Monday and Tuesday of 16th and 17th, there was a more than successful resettlement of IDPs at Jua Kali in an area which was very bad when we visited them. The District Commission (DC) and Joshua Lilande called me and told me how the plan they had put in place was unnecessary when the receiving community took them to their houses rather than camping in their neighborhood waiting to rebuild their burnt houses. There was reconciliation sprit in the air as their neighbors received them with joy.
When the Friends Church Peace Team (FCPT) visited the Jua Kali receiving community to listen to them, they were very hostile to them and never wanted to see the Kikuyus back in the area at all. But as they continued to listen to the team they soften although they remain adamant about not receiving them, but when we visited the area with the District Office (DO) they were willing to accept them back. Therefore, on Thursday when Lilande and the DO took the internally displaced people (IDPs) to their place, the community accepted them with jubilation. This was the opposite of what we experienced earlier when we were listening to them. The good news is that the gospel of peace and reconciliation is in the air propagated by the Friends Church.
But hell broke loose when they took the other IDPs to Sugoi from Eldoret Show Ground. Sugoi had been one of the most hostile communities when the FCPT held a listening session with them. The DO called me today and wished that I had been with him. They were almost killed by the community people who never wanted to see the returning community coming back. They asked me if I was available to accompany him but I was not available. He told me the community need the Friends Church Peace Team to be back in the area. The DO had to re-route the returnees to Turbo camp where other IDPs are. But on reaching there, the IDPs at Turbo did not want to accommodate their friends at all. The DO had to return them back to the Eldoret Show Ground for safety. The DO was very frustrated to the point that the DC ran away and never came closer to help the DO. He has organized a meeting with elders and opinion leaders in the area to talk with the them and hear what they need before the IDPs can return to their farms. The community is asking the government to release the youth who were arrested during the violence and especially those who were demonstrating against the rigged election. He is asking me and the Peace Team to be available with him to listen and encourage them to accept their brothers who are innocent return back. Please I am appealing for prayers, because the DO sounded scared because he said they petrol bombed them but nobody was hurt. The community is very hostile to the Kikuyus coming back. As we celebrate the successes, there are also challenges in the whole process.
I am encouraged by the following. So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time. There are many things that work to keep us from completing our life-missions. Over the years, I’ve debated whether the worst enemy is procrastination or discouragement. If Satan can’t get us to put off our life missions, then he’ll try to get us to quit altogether. The apostle Paul teaches that we need to resist discouragement: “So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up …” (Galatians 6:9). I believe God has a purpose for our ministry here in Kenya.
I am still thinking whether to join the DO tomorrow Saturday with the elders or to send others. Please pray with me.
God bless you friends.
John Muhanji, Director of African Ministries for Friends United Meeting (FUM)