Displaced children call for forgiveness

Published on 17/01/2009

By Phares Mutembei

Slightly more than a year ago, Henry Kariuki, 13, was a pupil at Toi Primary School, Kibera. He was an active and happy boy. But the 2007 General Elections caused horrific violence and changed his world.

Children at the Dagoretti Child Integrated Programme

“My family ran away for safety and I stopped going to school,” says Henry.

“I want to go back to class so that I study hard and become a pilot for Kenya Airways.”

His friend Isaac Kurasi, 11, was a happy boy too but today he does not laugh as much as he used to.

“I am sad because the violence caused a lot of deaths in Kenya. Prime Minister Odinga and President Kibaki should have talked and agreed before their supporters started fighting — that would have saved a lot of Kenyans from death.”

The two boys are among a group of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS) living at the Dagoreti Child Integrated Programme. Some of these children are orphans and others do not know where their parents are to this day.

Henry Kariuki.

Photos: Courtesy Child Welfare Society of Kenya

“When the fighting started many children were separated from their parents and relatives,” says Josephine Kimathi of Child Welfare Society of Kenya.

“Together with other organisations including UNICEF, we are trying to re-unite the children with their families.”

Hanna Wangare.

Hanna Wangare, 11, is another of the children at Dagoreti.

“I want to go to school and study with other children. I want to be happy and play my favourite games — kati and mfara.

“When Kenyans fought after the elections, I was a very sad girl. When I grow up I would like to be a policewoman and catch criminals,” said Wangare.

Rose Nyambura, 11, is also an IDP. “It is not good being an IDP because you feel no one loves you. People who killed in elections should say sorry to us and forgive each other.”

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