A setback

by

6:30pm

For the first time all day I am focused enough to make some progress on my work, when my colleague Chris rushes into my office: “Kalonzo was just declared VP. You should get home quickly, ODM might react.” After several days of peace, another setback.

I get home without any trouble; the only thing out of the ordinary on my commute is the local police station, where soldiers pile into a truck with face masks and guns. They are likely headed to Kibera, where more violence has broken out again as people react to the news.

Friends & I head to Tamasha (our neighborhood bar) to talk, as reports trickle in of more violence in Kisumu, Kibera and Mathare. A friend in Kisumu – where things had finally settled – describes people back on the streets, burning roadblocks and chanting about attacking Kikuyu homes. It is still unclear how this will affect the uneasy peace of the last few days; depends largely on how Raila reacts and the on the effectiveness of AU President John Kuofor’s mediation.

I struggle to wrap my head around all of the complexities of the past few days — the fact that most Kenyans want peace, but parts of the country are still up in flames — that things are business-as-usual in most of Nairobi, while people are still hungry in Kibera and Mathare.

Each day is a mix ups and downs, good news & bad. On the one hand we confirmed that all of SHF’s nurses are okay. Remarkable considering how many operate in Kibera and Kisumu, the hardest hit areas of Kenya. And even more remarkable: all of them are still operating, some without interruption. Conversations with Millicent and our other franchisees are a reminder of their strength and the importance of their work, especially in times like this.

But everyone is eager for some real signs of progress from the top; news that will build trust and hope, rather than set off already frustrated people. People are tired. They never expected this in their country, their Kenya.

I found a chilling video from my first days in Kibera, where Millicent’s nurse aide talks about the challenges of operating their Kibera clinic: 1) Many patients cannot afford to pay, 2) The insecurity of the campaign period, after which “I think things will be okay.”

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