Thursday, January 10, 2008

Crisis In Kenya

My friend who works for the microfinance company Unitus sent me a message today about how the political strife in Kenya is affecting development on the ground. I thought I'd print the message here, and see if any readers want to help:

Crisis in Kenya: Contribute to the Jamii Bora Emergency Fund

January 7th, 2008

Violence in Kenya following recent presidential elections—you can help!


As has been widely reported, presidential elections in Kenya and the subsequent electoral returns December 30th have been followed by tremendous civil unrest and outright violence. Concern over potential electoral fraud following President Mwai Kabiki’s re-election has sparked a spate of violence that continues long after election day. News coverage of the election process and the post-election violence can be found at a variety of news sources; a few select articles are linked here:

Impact on Jamii Bora Trust and Its Members
As many Unitus supporters know, Jamii Bora Trust is a microfinance institution in Nairobi, Kenya that Unitus has partnered with since 2004. We have recently learned that many of Jamii Bora’s members have been deeply impacted by this violence and are in desperate need of assistance. We have been in touch with Ingrid Munro, Managing Trustee of Jamii Bora Trust, in order to further extend Unitus’s support and understand more fully the conditions and circumstances facing the citizens of Nairobi, and more specifically, the fate of Jamii Bora’s members. Here, in Ingrid’s own words (dated January 1) is what we’ve heard:

Dear friends,

We have been able to be in touch with most of our branch staff in various parts of the country. The situation is very serious in many parts of the country. The target for most mob actions are the Kikuyu, the country’s largest tribe. But even families of other ethnic background are victims when the looting goes out of hand and nobody has time to check who is a Kikuyu and who is not.

Jamii Bora members are particularly badly hit, first because they are in the poorest areas that are most badly affected, second because in these areas they are often the most successful business people after many years of climbing with Jamii Bora, third because many are Kikuyus in the central urban areas, fourth because the police protection is not so strong in the poorest sections of the cities and town. The areas of the rich are much better protected and hardly attacked at all.

Terrible things are happening. People are killed and injured. Rape is on the rise. A church where many families with children had sought refuge was burnt down by an angry mob in Eldoret and many people including at least 34 children were killed. Poor people’s businesses are destroyed, burnt and/or looted. Homes and even churches are burnt down. The fruits of their hard work to climb out of poverty has been destroyed and burnt to the ground.

Tense calm has returned to a few places but most of the badly hit areas are still experiencing problems. Many families are running away in panic and have lost everything they have worked so hard for.

Some of the worst hit areas are the large slums in Nairobi especially Kibera, Mathare, Huruma- Korogocho, Kangemi and Kawangware. Other towns that have been exposed to serious destruction are Eldoret, Kisumu, Kericho and Mombasa. Many other parts of the country are experiencing serious problems in poorer sections of the towns. Several of our branches have also been looted and our computers and POS machines stolen. People can not run their businesses for risk of looting, thus even those who have not been looted or burnt down are affected. No buses are available since the owners fear that they may be stoned or vandalized. People are starving because they cannot access food, they are homeless and seek refuge at police stations and churches. Thus everyone is affected.

Jamii Bora estimates that almost 50% of the members are affected in at least one of the above mentioned ways. Our own disaster fund will not last long in this situation and we urgently need help.

Anything you can do to assist and contribute in a big or a small way will be highly appreciated.

Warm regards


How You Can Help
Please consider a donation to Unitus to support the Jamii Bora Emergency Fund. Members throughout the Nairobi slums—specifically Mathare and Kibera—have been affected, as well as members throughout greater Kenya where Jamii Bora has branches. Lives and futures have been devastated, and your generous support can help Unitus and Jamii Bora Trust lend a hand to those impacted by this violence. Funds donated to Unitus will go directly to Jamii Bora Trust to rebuild looted offices and to help members re-establish their businesses and homes.

Please make your contribution here.

Thank you!

- Your friends at Unitus & Jamii Bora Trust

I'll be donating...I hope that you will as well.


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