April 2008 - Riots, bloodshed and some blessed rain

Sister Yvonne Channells RSM writes from Lodwar Kenya

Dear Brian, 
I send loving greetings once again to you and Lynn. The week is slipping by so very quickly and I must keep my recent promise to write another letter for the website.

We've had a run of people coming and going. Indeed all very nice. We had an overnight stay by the Spanish Ambassador and his driver quite recently. He was a very friendly 'no fuss' kind of man but I fear we almost killed him with some extremely 'out of date' beer. However, the Spanish are a very resilient people and he was up the next morning without any sign of fraying around the edges. I guess you don't get to be an Ambassador without some extra class and stamina.

We are still enjoying the euphoria of receiving some rain and milder weather. Everywhere I look the country has greened up. Although I did lose some of my poor struggling trees in the very hot dry spell, the ones surviving look brilliant.

It is an ideal time to write with so much happening hereabouts but unfortunately the news is not all good.

Sadly Lodwar town has been under siege since Saturday afternoon. The stories coming to me from the townsfolk remind me of a Wild West show. Fortunately the town settled a little on Tuesday but tension is still running high in some quarters.

An incident happened on Saturday afternoon to trigger all the trouble. The edited version goes something like this. It apparently started with a dispute over a pool game being played for money. An off duty policeman was the loser and he wasn't happy about the results. You can be quite sure there was much more to the saga, but whatever happened in between, the policeman attempted to shoot his opponent. Instead he missed and hit a passing child. Of course this ignited all the tribal differences which are always just below the surface.

So since Sunday through to Tuesday there has been mayhem in Lodwar. People ran to escape from police firing guns in the air and many young people who were throwing stones. The shops closed down on account of the disturbance and there were reports of looting and much fear of further looting. Any vehicle driven through town was stoned. All the taxis left for safety. It amazes me how very quickly trouble stirs up.

Since Kenyan post election turmoil there have been many internally displaced people arriving here from "down country". Although we don't have an official 'Camp' here, there are over two thousand people now settled in a church compound. I think it is the AIC. Our Diocese has been doing its best to provide support as well. These people were originally from Turkana Province but have lived down country for many years. The turmoil in the cities has driven them back to Lodwar.

We do have much good news though. Our Vulnerable Children's Programme continues on and there is certainly a general improvement in the health and well being of the children and their supporting families. Of course there are always more children having to be included. We are sad to have to report the loss of three of our children. Two died through sickness and one died in an accident.

Recently the Australian High Commission in Nairobi gave us a Grant for the construction of a Multi Purpose Centre on the other side of town. It is another shanty like village aptly called Soweto. To the present we have been using St Monica's Nursery school as a venue. This new centre will be a place for the Social Workers to use as an office. It will also serve as a meeting place for the carers, a storage place for food and a venue for the food distribution and other necessary gatherings.

The Australian High Commissioner, Lisa Filipetto, will officially open the centre towards the end of June. I am so very pleased Lisa is able to come. She is delightful and the local people will make her most welcome. The Australian Embassy has supported us well over the years.

Brian, as always I can't let this opportunity pass without sincerely thanking those who have so generously supported the work here. We pray for you all every day. I will shortly send the names of additional donors so you can update the list in our website. The banking details you asked for will also be included.

Thank you Brian for setting up our website and keeping it going over all these years. My best love and thanks to you and Lynn and to all our benefactors. I do look forward to catching up with many of you in September when I return to Australia for my next biennial leave.

May God continue to bless us all so we may each be a blessing for others. 

Sr. Yvonne Channells RSM

Turkana Province




Site by Nambucca Graphics  Hosting by Nambucca Web & Here in Nambucca

Nambucca Graphics -  All rights reserved