When Elephants Fight, the Grass Below Suffers

Published on WorldPulse Magazine, by Karambu Ringera, Feb 15, 2008.

When I arrived at the IDP camp at Nakuru at the end of January nothing prepared me for the sight of the effects of war in my beloved Kenya. As I walked about to survey the violence, I watched as a woman sold her tomatoes, unbothered by the presence of a dead body near her stand. There was so much death throughout the streets. I am shocked at what we have become as a nation – we are so removed from our humanity, we are failing to see that the “other” we are butchering are Kenyans.

In the camps, my heart bled for the women and children I met. For food, they have a mug of porridge in the morning, no lunch, and a dinner so little “it is meant to keep the soul alive,” as one old woman told me. Mothers have to share their food to feed their children. Girls in the camp are known to exchange food for sex.

Rapes occur regularly; women are told to watch over their girls, to not go to the toilets at night. At night the men scream, and as the women run away in panic, they chase the women and girls and rape them.

HIV and AIDS is spreading like wildfire throughout the camps—the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) medical team hands out condoms each day, and every morning used condoms are all over the camp. HIV-positive mothers have no food to feed their children; instead, they must breastfeed their babies to keep them from screaming out in hunger … (full long text).

(Dr. Ringera is the founder and president of International Peace Initiatives (IPI)—a US- and Kenya-based organization that promotes peace and supports efforts to mitigate the effects of war, poverty and discrimination at the grassroots level. She holds her Bachelors of Education and Postgraduate Diploma from the University of Nairobi, as well as a Masters degree in Media from Natal University, South Africa and a Master of Theological Studies from Iliff School of Theology, Colorado. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Human Communications at the University of Denver, Colorado. In 2007, she ran for Kenyan Parliament in North Imenti, placing in sixth out of fifteen all-male candidates).

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