(UMNS) Theresa, a widowed mother of three, wakes up every morning in a crowded tent at a camp for internally displaced people in Mathare, Nairobi. She has lived in the camp since January, after her home was destroyed during political and tribal unrest following the Kenya presidential elections last December. More than 1,000 people were killed in the violence. Although the violence has subsided, more than 62,000 people remain displaced in settlements like that in Mathare. Many more of the displaced live with family or friends.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is providing assistance.
“We are working in partnership with the East Africa Annual Conference, the Methodist Church in Kenya, and the U.S. Agency for International Development to provide medical supplies, blankets, dry food goods, school supplies and more to help communities that are most in need across Kenya,” said Melissa Crutchfield, an UMCOR executive.
Because the government has expressed it will provide assistance, humanitarian agencies have wound down their operations and no longer distribute food and supplies, Crutchfield reported. The government programs are still not accessible in many areas, however. Communities of faith have stepped in to take responsibility for their neighbors. With the help of UMCOR, the Methodist Church in Kenya and the UMC in Kenya are serving hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people.
Churches are coordinating large-scale distributions of goods and supplies, in addition to working in small camps and unofficial settlements, assisting families and communities that have the fewest options. They are creating networks of care, providing host families, securing donations, arranging for medical care, and setting up child care.
Donations to assist UMCOR’s work with the displaced in Kenya can be given to International Disaster Response, UMCOR Advance #982450. Checks can be mailed to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087. Write the Advance number and name on the memo line of the check. Online donations can be made at http://secure.gbgm-umc.org/donations/umcor/donate.
— Melissa Hinnen, UMCOR