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Kenya Reports

Report #53
June 13, 2008

Last Sunday was the day for the Kikuyu from the Turbo IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp to come to Lumakanda Friends Church. About 60 people came from the camp including 13 pastors of various denominations. With about the equivalent number of local people the church was quite full and the energy level was much higher than usual.

After the service some of the pastors wanted to meet with the people from the church. After the usual "thank-yous," they indicated that they wanted Friends' help in returning to their communities. The Government is planning on disbanding the Turbo camp and returning people to their homes. This may be done by setting up mini-camps in the various communities as the people rebuild their houses. The pastors stated that they didn't want to return with the guns of the police and army, but would prefer that the Friends escort them back without weapons and uniforms. As a pacifist I was very encouraged by this realization and request. Since the Friends Church Peace Team was already planning on doing this, I told them that I would bring it forward in the next meeting (which was scheduled for the next day).

On Monday five members of the Friends Church Peace Team (FCPT), who had been asked by the local District Officer in Mili Nne (near Eldoret) to accompany the returnees back to their homes, went to Eldoret for that purpose. Alas, this did not take place because the Red Cross said that a month's supply of food would be distributed to the IDP's on Wednesday and that they should wait to receive the distribution first and then return to Eldoret on Thursday. We appointed a team to return on Thursday, but I have not heard any report of what happened.

Success leads to new issues. At the church service in Lumakanda Church, one of the IDP pastors announced that five people from the IDP camp had applied to Friends Theological College as students for the next school year and that they would be interviewed in the coming week. Friends Theological College now has course work on Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution. We also just did an AVP Training for Facilitators workshop for fifteen students from the College and hope that they will soon be conducting AVP workshops in Friends Churches. But the more difficult issue was the offer of two acres in Sugoi to build a Friends Church. We discussed this at length at the FCPT's counselors training at Lubao on Monday and Tuesday. The Peace Team is supposed to be neutral and if we planted the church in Sugoi, it would look like we were evangelizing instead of doing reconciliation. Note that at Takatifu Gardens, where we have been doing a lot of AVP workshops, the local Catholic priest was bringing 20 people for an AVP workshop but cancelled it instead because he thought that we were trying to convert their people to Quakerism. If people feel this way then the Peace Team would lose its credibility. After much discussion it was determined that Lugari Yearly Meeting (which included the area of Sugoi) would work on the development of this church, while the FCPT would continue with its reconciliation work.

Alas tomorrow Gladys and I will be leaving Lumakanda on our way to the United States. Our first speaking engagement will be in Nairobi where we will speak at Friends International Centre, Ngong Road, about the reconciliation work here in western Kenya. Here is our speaking schedule while in the US:

June 17-Blueberry Hill, Northern Virginia
June 19-Loyola University, Chicago
June 25-Sacramento Friends Meeting/Friends Church joint presentation in the evening
June 26-Santa Rosa Friends House
June 27-Berkeley Friends Church or International House
June 28-Palo Alto Friends Meeting
June 29-San Francisco Temple United Methodist Church, session with AVP trainers
June 30-Grass Valley Friends Meeting
July 1-Davis Friends Meeting
July 2-San Francisco Friends Meeting
July 8-Richmond (VA) Friends Meeting
July 9 to 13-Friends United Meeting

If you would like details of any event, please email me.

We will return via Burundi, Rwanda, and North Kivu (Congo) where we will see the AGLI programs and the results of this summer's AGLI workcamps. I'll send you reports from these countries when I get a chance, but I can only send you reports about Kenya if I receive information from Kenya while I am away. In one sense I am sorry that I am leaving since there are likely to be many developments in reconciliation while we are away. We will also continue holding many AVP workshops with youth, including a number in the Lugari area connected with the people returning from the IDP camp, and we will start the first practice Healing and Rebuilding Our Community (HROC) workshops with two lead facilitators from Rwanda.

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