I pen this, with a heavy heart, some hours after attending the burial of one Naomi Waitherero Mwangi, who died at age 90. Naomi breathed her last on February 27, 2014, while living in near abject squalor in an informal camp for internally displaced persons (IDP’s).
Speaking during the funeral service, Robert Mendonsa, founder of Naomi’s Village, reminded the small assembled congregation of the many instances in the Holy Bible where reference was made to Jesus as being “moved with compassion” at the suffering of others.
However, looking at the squalid living conditions in which Naomi ended her earthly journey, one could not help but feel that the leadership of the potentially great country of Kenya are in serious need of some stark lessons in compassion!
One of four hundred thousand displaced from their original homes following the presidential election violence of December 2007/January 2008 in Kenya, Naomi found herself living in several informal settlements with other victims, mainly from her Kikuyu tribe.
The last of these settlements that she lived in, during her six years tribulation, is named ‘Mwihang’iri – and more on this name later.
She lived in a tent that had itself seen better days and which was no larger than six by six feet in dimensions, and slept on the bare earth on a threadbare mattress. For food she was at the mercy of her fellow able-bodied, but still dirt-poor IDP’s!
When it rained, she was equally at the mercies of the elements, as her tattered tent offered little protection from the rain.
When sickness took its toll about a year ago, she suffered a stroke that completely paralyzed her from the waist down.
This meant that she now answered both calls of nature on herself, and would remain lying in her own excreta and urine for hours, and sometimes overnight, if a fellow camp resident did not check on her sooner!
Many IDP’s from that dark 2007/2008 period in Kenya remain displaced from their original homes, and I cannot think of a sadder indictment of a country’s leadership, than one that fails in its basic duty of providing shelter and security for its citizenry.
Six long years in a tattered tent, for a country that has never experienced civil war, is an appalling statistic to be associated with!
Whereas we do not have old people’s homes, as we know them in the West, we Africans have a long history of extended family systems that ensure that the Naomis in our midst end their Earth’s sojourn in dignity.
Africans by nature esteem elderly people, and many of us who make our homes in the urban areas still cart our offspring to our rural homes, where the grandfolks take care of them during Easter or summer vacations.
These vacation times are laden with lessons on good conduct, and they often draw their bearing from the Holy Bible and help to preserve our rich heritage of many admirable customs and traditions.
However with many so-called western values being exposed to the younger adults through mainly the ever-evolving media, there is a gradual breaking down of the old order. But that is, in my opinion, still no excuse for the state in which Naomi (and almost certainly thousands like her in Kenya) ended her life’s journey.
I never met Naomi this side of Jordan, but as I saw her fellow IDP’s place uneven stone blocks on the ground and then planks of wood across them, so as to have a place to put her coffin during the funeral service, I knew that we have done a great disservice to her generation.
The now aging Naomis of Kenya spent hundreds of hours teaching us in our childhood and youth lives the virtues of loving and caring for each other.
As God’s word teaches us in Jeremiah 6:16 : Thus saith The Lord, “Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘we will not walk therein’….”
In closing, mega-corruption continues to be endemic within the Kenyan government systems. Hundreds of millions of dollars are stolen annually, and the political will to stem this rot, is to all intents and purposes, nonexistent.
This unchecked plunder of the public purse by those entrusted to safeguard it is having a debilitating impact on the ability of the government to provide affordable shelter and health care, infrastructure, and of course, effective security.
The perpetrators of this vice are middle-aged, able-bodied and minded adults.
Ironically the people most hurt by this ravenous, diabolical, and sinful conduct, is the generation of the Naomis of Kenya and their children and grandchildren!
Back to Mwihang’iri. It means “ones who have been left to their own devices to fend for themselves”!
On the authority of the testimony of two pastors, Naomi Waitherero was saved and had a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
She died just as plans were in motion to build houses for her and her fellow IDP’s.
Well, she missed out on a good house down here, but the one she will eventually occupy for eternity up there is incomparable by any stretch of the imagination!
Thank you, JESUS, for your exceeding grace.
To learn more about what you can do to help, or how to get involved please visit Naomi’s Village
Read more stories of compassion and hope from Naomi’s Village, Left Out in the Cold
All pictures by Cooke Pictures, Burbank, CA (www.cookepictures.com)
Sonoma Christian Home Online Magazine is honored to be an official sponsor for Naomi’s Village. To help our readers get to know more about this ministry, SCH will be publishing a series of beautiful stories on the important work Bob and Julie Mendosa, and the team at Naomi’s Village are doing for the Kingdom. We know know you will be captivated by this amazing ministry and fall in love with them, just like we did.