High on my list of Things I Am Not Fond Of, far above People Who Turn Into My Lane, even beyond Writing Daily “Thought Papers” For An Entry Level Class (I hate these kinds of forced reflections with a burning passion that will never die) is a special category titled People I Care About Being In Unsafe Situations. Here there is, of course, the ever popular Friends Being Deployed To War Zones, and also Family Members Living In Underdeveloped Countries With Insufficient Health Care. However, far and above anything previously named, there is a very special section I have created just this past month. It is called Family Members Being Caught In Undeveloped Nations In Which There Is Uncontrolled Violence And Possibly Ethnic Cleansing Going On.
My sister Lisa is in Kenya. She arrived there shortly before Christmas to begin a five month stint teaching grade school at St. Jude’s Academy, the second half of her year of service in Africa. I don’t know how many of you guys have been following the news, but the country is in a downward spiral of violence that is threatening to turn into a total meltdown. Just after Christamas there was an election in which the two main candidates were members of rival tribes. The election was massively corrupt. Protests by the party that lost turned violent, there were reprisals, and everything quickly spiraled out of control. Now there are gangs of men from one tribe armed with machetes and clubs studded with nails actively going out to hunt down members of the other tribe, and being disappointed when they can’t find any to kill. So far the police have been unable to stop the violence, and have lately been given orders to shoot to kill. The US State Department’s warnings have been growing progressively grave, although they have not yet warned US citizens to leave the country.
Here’s the good news: the village where Lisa is living is out in the middle of nowhere, far from where the violence is occurring. Moreover, the violence seems to be almost entirely between the members of the two tribes. Europeans and Americans so far do not seem to be targeted at all. The area where she lives is populated entirely by the tribe of the politician who is in power, so the violence is unlikely to spread there. The family she lives with is being extremely careful, barely even letting her go outside by herself. She doesn’t go outside at all after dark. So for now it seems like she is safe.
However, the situation is volatile. In a split second all this could change, and Lisa could be swept up in the kind of unpleasantness I don’t want to think about. The temptation is to tell her to get the heck out of there, to get home as fast as an airliner can take her. However, in order to get out of the country she’d have to travel eighty miles over unsafe roads (the State Department website warns that travel may only be safe as part of an armed convoy) straight into Nairobi, the heart of where the violence is occurring. It is true that the airports are still operating normally, and that most of the violence is happening in the slum areas where she would not go. The problem is… can she get to the airport safely? We don’t know.
They make adventure movies about this stuff. However, this was never the kind of movie I wanted made about my cuddly, bubbly, blond little sister!
So, you know, if you could pray…