The Turkana region of northwest Kenya has long been home to nomadic or seminomadic peoples. Many of them have now become settled, but the majority still find themselves forced by shortage of water and grazing to move with their herds of cattle to wherever water and pasture can be found.
The Turkana people number close on half a million people, and like the better-known Maasai people they also depend almost entirely on their livestock for 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. But just as before, the size of their flocks is what determines the social status of a family. To this day, their cattle have a particularly high status and the Turkana people even give them individual names. In the mythology of their tribe, the cattle have a mediating role between the souls of the ancestors and the living.
Over time, many of the Turkana people have become Christians. Approximately 25% of them have been baptized, and there are many others who also feel a close bond with the Catholic Church. Missionaries came to this region in the 1960s, when there was a great famine, and 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, cattle drowned, and homes were destroyed. As a result, many people have now lost the basis of what was already a precarious existence and they are now suffering from hunger and disease. The dwellings in the parishes of Kalokol and Nakwamekwi were almost completely swept away by the floods, since the flimsy structures of mud and twigs could not withstand the force of the waters.
Once again the people in this neglected region of Kenya find themselves counting on the help of the Church. In response, the Bishop of Lodwar has sent us an urgent appeal for emergency aid so that he can help the worst affected parishes. We have promised him $12,200 so that he will be able to help some 500 families, averaging six people in each family, with essential food and medicines. Thus 3000 people who are suffering will be helped.
Will you give to provide emergency aid to victims of severe flooding in Kenya?
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