By Regina Mburu, communications liaison for Unbound in Africa
Editor’s note: There have been no reports of youth sponsored through Unbound being affected by the April 2 terror attack on Garissa University College in Kenya.
As the long Easter weekend approached, we were excited and busy making plans on how best to enjoy the holiday with loved ones.
Then we got the news that Garissa University College in the northeastern part of Kenya was under siege. The school is part of the Moi University system.
Terrorists had taken over the Garissa campus. With guns and knives, they took the young lives of 148 students.
Easter celebrations were dampened. The mood was somber as the whole nation was thrown into mourning. Our Kenyan flag, flying at half-mast, served as a symbol to honor the lost lives.
The news media reported that terrorists targeted students who were not of the Islamic faith. Tensions between Christians and Muslims heightened, even while leaders from both faiths condemned the attacks.
Unbound-Kenya serves beneficiaries from both Christian and Islamic religions. As a program, Unbound serves the two religions without favor. Members interact and live harmoniously with each other. Some have formed great friendships, thanks to the Unbound mothers groups.
“It is with profound sadness that I heard the news of what had happened to Moi University students,” said Pauline Matu, an Unbound social worker who works with mothers groups. “The images shown in the media were disturbing. My heart grieved at the loss of such young lives.”
The mass killing of the students was the worst the nation has seen since the 1998 bombing of the American Embassy and the attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi in 2013, the government said.
In the wake of the terror attack, Kenyans have stood in solidarity. There are blood drives for the injured going on around the country. The Red Cross and individual Kenyans gathered at the mortuary where identification of bodies was underway, offering meals and emotional support to the bereaved.
In one of our Unbound subprojects in Nairobi, mothers who were gathered for a leaders meeting showed their solidarity by praying for the souls of the departed, and praying for strength for those who have been left with the deep scar of losing their dear ones.
I talked by phone with Sarah, a parent of a child sponsored through the Unbound program. She is grateful for the safety of her grandson, who had studied at the campus in Garissa.
“I never felt secure having him there,” Sarah said. “Garissa is known for frequent attacks, and I had a bad feeling about him studying there. I could not change his parents’ mind about him being there, so I consistently prayed.
“Two months ago, he got a transfer letter asking him to report to the main campus in Nairobi. That is how my grandson’s life was spared. He would have been among the dead,” an emotional Sarah said.
Talking over the phone to Jackline, another parent of a sponsored child, she said, “As a parent, I can relate to the hurt the parents are feeling. As parents we put our hope in our children. Our joy is to see them successful in life. It is sad that the dreams these parents had for their children will never see the light of day.”
The cloud of sadness is still hanging low in my beloved country. Fear and insecurity are what we wake up to every break of dawn. We can only hope that this war of terror will come to an end, and that no more innocent blood will be shed in the name of religion.
We mourn with those who are grieving. We join hands as we pray and hope that peace will once again reign in our beautiful country, Kenya.