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January 17, 2019

Our winter is here, let's not forget the IDPs

I woke up yesterday morning and the outdoor thermometer was reading eight degrees Celsius. Is that even allowed in Kenya? Single digit temperatures are meant for places like Paris, London, Berlin and places where you have to get to in an overnight trip on an aeroplane.

I don’t complain about the cold weather. In fact, I thrive in these winter months of ours because I’m not totally solar powered. The cold weather seems to add oomph in my step and I’m far more active and busy running around doing things.

The best part about this cold weather is that I get to dust out my jackets and jumpers, scarves and hats and not forgetting the boots to look fashionably kitted out to fight this weather. So while all this fashionable stuff is well and good, my mind always strays to our IDPs. I’m sitting in my warm home, sipping coffee to keep me warm, I have access to a winter closet, I can cook comfort foods for myself and the kids and light a fire and huddle around it to keep warm. What of the IDPs?

It’s almost six years and they still don’t have a home after the post-election violence in 2007-08. No roof above their head, no means of making a living, no warm clothes, esteem has probably been shredded by living on handouts where once they earned their own living and dignity is in tatters. They don’t even have positive thoughts to keep them warm.

It saddens me that the government makes big, huge promises to do this, that and the other but when push comes to shove, the IDPs are first to be forgotten. Giving them token handouts every now and then isn’t a solution to this massive problem. They need to be settled back in their homes, they need to start earning a living and they need to be families again.

Why can’t we do more for them? Whatever little is happening now, if at all it is, is just not enough. If six years on these people are still homeless, what does that reflect on us as a nation? Is this good governance really? Our president sashayed to his position with a lot of promises and vision, peppered liberally with hope and as always, we feel loved and protected and feel change is here. While President Uhuru has done really well in starting to deliver things he promised, I’m imploring him to do something for the IDPs.

My children have hot water bottles to keep them warm in bed at night while snuggled up in their warm duvets. Children have been born within this six-year span and they do not even know what a home is. Fifty years after independence, instead of celebrating a way forward, we are shackled with the ugly truth of homelessness in our country. Don’t even get me started on other basic issues.

Mr President, we are by your side if you choose to make this a priority. I will help you as much as I can. Get the ball rolling. I cannot just give out 50 blankets from what I can afford to help them. We need more things. In fact, not just things, we need to settle them with dignity back in their homes. Allow us to help you. Please do something. It’s cold, very cold, and they’re homeless. I’m in tears as I write this. Please let’s help them. Please.


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