Fire & Life

Where to start. The fact that this is late Sunday night and I haven’t had the head space to post an update here, says a lot about what we have been doing this past week. On Monday afternoon I was actually going through some big stress with a number of independent dramas. Sometimes, I have to escape and take a walk to get away from the noise. A lot of the time when stress piles on top of one another, it can feel like there is no escape.

Then came the phone call that changed this whole week. At 5:18pm my phone rang with our cook sobbing, “KCC is on fire”, I couldn’t believe it, our phones were cut and I called her back. We then rushed everyone into the van and drove down, seeing the smoke hovering Naivasha town in the distance. All I knew deep in me, that this was bad, our kids lives were in jeopardy and our project was on the line. Arriving there the fire was high and rampant. It was moving fast and there were people everywhere pulling, dragging, carrying: livestock, small items, furniture, iron sheets, boxes. But the fire had started without warning and at a time when a lot of people were coming home from work so many people had already lost a lot of things. We literally opened our two rooms where we had our Womens Group and MYAA and ripped, pulled and cleared the rooms before the fire reached.

There were people everywhere: people crying, people stressed, people arguing and people standing in disbelief. I felt a weight that I can not put into words. But it ripped me apart. Looking people in the face as they gazed at a monster. The fire was started by a small fire in a shack that was left un attended. The fire then shot up the roof, up an electricity pole then sweaping over roof tops destoyed the homes of 3000 people within 1 half hours. Late on Wednesday night I had a Skype interview with a journalist from the UK. The link is here. We have also been keeping updates on Facebook.

What you do in crises is different for each person. For me, one of the only responses, is action. This past week our project staff and volunteers have endured a very challenging week, with some even losing their own homes. But they have given an unmatched commitment to the community and our project and have shown love, compassion and action the whole way. I feel proud to say we have built a project through people that can overcome some of the biggest challenges, even fires that wipe out 85% of homes of the people that we are helping.

I have spent most nights until 2am getting support and keeping communications fresh. The week previous, was one of the most personally challenging for completely different reasons, but in this past week, I have felt a newness for what I am doing.

You can never control life in all its mystery and calamity. Tragedy, death or law suits can occur at any time and most of the time without any warning. It can throw you off completely or it can give you a new lens to see. Sometimes the weight of it all is just to heavy to carry and then other times, an endurance and strength comes from no where. Then there is the grief and loss matched with exhaustion and endless questions. The past two weeks have taken a lot. Yet at the same time, Ive learnt and found real life in it all.

Language evolves the older you get and through the experiences you have. I actually think that if language doesn’t evolve with you, through all the tragedy, calamity, death, grief, joy, laughter, creativity and freedom, then what is believed doesn’t mean much at all.

I certanily dont have many answers to why things happen the way they do, all I know now is that life is supposed to be the way it is. In its strangeness at times and it pure joy at other times.


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