2006 New Year's newsletter from Bishop Harrington

 

In our small but for us, important, world of Turkana, we certainly look to the Year 2006 to bring some changes for the betterment of our lives.

The first thing we pray for, hope for and must continue working for, is Security and Peace. As Pope Benedict again reminds us "Peace is an irrepressible yearning present in the heart of each person, regardless of his or her particular cultural identity."

Yet, despite this, we seem to be surrounded by real or potential "enemies". We are at loggerheads with our Karamojong brethren in  Uganda, with our Toposa neighbours in Sudan, with the Merille of Ethiopia and even with our own fellow Kenyans to the South (Pokot).

The truth is that we too are not exactly angels in our dealings with all of these people. Let 2006 be the year for a real change of heart, and let us continue to hold "peace meetings" with our neighbours that will really change relationships and bring about true cooperation
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The second thing we pray for, hope for, and must continue working for is improvement in the quality of our lives. It is simply not acceptable that in Turkana, each day is a struggle for survival. Internationally, there have been encouraging signs in the so-called "war" against poverty and in "Making Poverty History". The rhetoric is indeed fine and we can even accept the good intentions expressed as being genuine. But the reality is that here in Turkana, very little has changed.

Despite the efforts of a comparatively small dedicated group of people, the infant mortality rate is still three times higher than the national Kenyan average. Less than fifty percent of children who are eligible to avail themselves of "the free and compulsory" primary education policy actually go to school. The average life expectancy is just over forty years of age. Only 6.4% of the half million population are salaried- so there is a very limited cash flow.

One could go on indefinitely listing the problems, but the result of all is malnourishment, tuberculosis and refuge being sought in alcohol or drugs. It is true that our environment is harsh and agriculture is minimal. There is no industry. We rely on animals and if these are affected by drought, there is famine for the people.

If there are small schemes in place here, it is certainly not the work of the National Government. We in Turkana do not ask for favours or handouts. We simply request that our rights be respected and justice be done.

Finally, for us who live here in Turkana, our truth is that we must continue working and cooperating together by sharing the little we have. We need to look out especially for the sick, the deaf, the blind, the physically handicapped and, of course, all the children. Our old people must continue to be respected and our youth must grow in responsibility.

With God's help, with our own creativity and resilience, and with the speedy fulfilment of our rights by the civil authority, we can begin in 2006 to offer a more secure environment and a more fulfilling life for all of us and for future generations in this remote part if Kenya.

Let us pray for one another.

Yours sincerely,

Patrick J. Harrington
Bishop of Lodwar.
Turkana Province
Kenya

 

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