Emergency aid for victims of severe flooding
The Turkana region of northwest Kenya has since time immemorial been home to nomadic or semi-nomadic peoples. Many of them have now become settled today, but the majority still find themselves forced by shortage of water to move with their cattle to wherever water and grazing pastures can be found.
The Turkana people number close on half a million, and like the better-known Maasai people, they also depend almost entirely on their livestock for their survival. In the past it was always cattle that formed the basis of their livelihood, but today the Turkana also keep camels, goats and sheep. Though just as before, the size of their flocks determines the social status of a family. To this day, cattle have a particularly high status in Turkana society and people even give them individual names. In the mythology of their tribe, cattle have a mediating role between the souls of the ancestors and the living.
Many of the Turkana people have by now become Christian. Around 25% have been baptized, but there are many others also feeling a close bond with the Catholic Church. In fact, the Catholic missionaries only came to this region in the 1960s during a great famine, at which time the government relied heavily on the help of the Catholic Church. In the five decades since then a great deal has been achieved, and to this day the majority of the healthcare programs, the schools and the kindergartens, are provided by the Catholic diocese of Lodwar, which was established in 1978.
While this region normally suffers from drought, this year there was widespread and devastating flooding in April and May. A number of people died, their cattle drowned, and many of their huts were destroyed. As a result, many of these people have lost the basis of what was already a precarious existence and they now suffer from hunger and, in some cases, disease. The dwellings in the parishes of Kalokol and Nakwamekwi were almost completely swept away by the floods, because the flimsy structures built of mud and twigs could not withstand the force of the waters.
Once again today, the people in this neglected region of Kenya find themselves counting above all on the help of the Church. And so the bishop of Lodwar has sent us an urgent appeal for emergency aid, so that he can help the worst affected parishes.
We have given $15,950, with which he is able to help some 500 families, averaging around six persons each, to obtain essential food and medicines.