No peace, we die
KISUMU, 26 February 2008 (IRIN) - Roselyne Anyango, 32, is an HIV-positive single mother who moved to Naivasha five years ago to work on a flower farm. When violence broke out after December’s disputed elections, she and her two children, aged 13 and six, were forced to flee. Her elder child has special needs.
For safety, they were taken to Kisumu where most of the population is Luo like themselves but then they were told to move on to their “ancestral lands”. But Anyango knew she would be rejected in the village where she grew up because she had separated from her husband and is living with HIV/AIDS.
“Our neighbours told the Mungiki [a Kikuyu militia] that we were Luos and they said Luos must go. My neighbour refused to leave. She decided to lock herself inside her house with her 10 children. They burned to death.
“I ran to Naivasha prison. We camped there for almost one-and-a-half months. A Catholic sister brought us a bus. So we came here to Kisumu. We went to St Stephen’s Cathedral transit camp and they warmly welcomed us.
“After two days, those people [at St Stephen’s] said that everybody who came from Naivasha to Kisumu must go to his or her village. They said, ‘there is nobody who has nowhere to go’.
“I told them I have an [ancestral] home but there is nobody there who can take care of me and my children. My father and mother died. I don’t even have money so I how I can feed my children?
“In Luo culture, there is no such thing as divorce. When [married women] go back to where you were born, they say ‘go back to your husband’. But I don’t have a husband. I left him 10 years ago.
“My children always say, ‘let us go back to the village’. They say in the village there are no people who cut people with machetes. But I know life in the village is hard because I lived there for a long time.
“I have my brother in [the Rift Valley town of] Eldoret but they said I cannot go to Eldoret [where there were also ethnic clashes] and I must go back to the village.
“Every morning, they came to the place where we were sleeping and told us to move out. On the fourth day, they took our bags and threw us out. A Catholic sister took us to her orphanage where we are staying now.
“My health has become bad in these days of war. I feel very weak. I was tested for HIV/AIDS two years ago and I’m positive. I’ve been taking drugs [anti-retrovirals]. They told me I must eat well and get a balanced diet. I’ve been missing my drugs because of the war.
“I can never go back to Naivasha. If I go back, there could be war like this again. So I decided to stay here in Kisumu. I have nothing to do because I don’t have anything. But when I can get a little capital, I can set up a small business and start my life again.
“I would like there to be peace in Kenya. If there’s no peace, we Kenyans are going to die like the others have already.”
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