Kenyan Journal: Suddenly Seeing Hope

Wednesday, January 18th: Suddenly Seeing Hope

 Yesterday I filmed two food distribution programs run by the Jesuits. Both were in very distressed, tough areas of Nairobi. One location has a large number of Somalis who live in fear of violent acts of retaliation from a notorious Somali terrorist group know as al-Shabab. Most of the people receiving food and financial assistance were Muslim women dressed in their full traditional garb, many only revealing their eyes. I met one man who was so badly beaten and tortured inSomaliathat he was left blind. But he told me that thanks to JRS, he now sees hope. I also filmed in the city’s second largest slum. In one roadside garbage dump I filmed some young men who actually lived in make-shift dwellings next to the dump. This weekend I will be filming in the city’s largest slum, a dreadful place known as Kibera.

Next week I fly to the north to spend three days in a massive refugee camp located in the midst of a very harsh desert area. I just learned that the ride from the airfield to the camp is so dangerous we will have armed guards with us. Upon hearing the news, I joked how no one told me that little piece of information before I agreed to go. Hopefully, my overworked team of guardian angels will be making the trip across the desert also.

In spiritual language, the desert is a place where humanity is handed over to God, a place where a person is totally submitted to an immense and intimate encounter. For the refugee, the desert is a place where they are stripped bare of their country, their friends, their fields, their family, their home. It is a place of total isolation and marginalization. It is hell.

Gerry

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