The true weight of flour in Kenya

By Martina Liebsch, Caritas Internationalis Advocacy Coordinator

When I go to the supermarket and I buy a kilo of flour I usually do not think much about it. I take it home, bake some bread or a cake and that’s it.

When I was distributing flour to a group of internally displaced women in a village near Nairobi the flour package felt unusually heavy and seemed much more important.

The women gathered at the parish premises in Kikuyu on the occasion of their regular food distribution were waiting for us, a little delegation composed of colleagues of Caritas Kenya, the diocese of Nairobi, of the Justice and Peace Commission and myself. The women were keen to share their experience of being forced to leave their homes after the social unrest in Kenya in 2007: Losing their farms, being sometimes separated from their children, left with almost nothing. Before arriving in Kikuyu some spent two weeks sleeping in the forest or at a police station where they sought help.

But the testimonies were also about solidarity. People in Kikuyu helped the 6000 people coming in, by hosting them in their homes and acting as volunteers to help people and their first needs! Solidarity in practice. It reminded me of the stories of my grandparents and how they hosted relatives and friends stranded during World War II.

During the two days at the Partnership Forum we struggled a lot around emergencies and getting things done in the right way.

While meeting the women a colleague of Caritas Kenya was addressing them and telling them who we were and why we came. The only word I understood was “emergency appeal”. The women listened attentively and were full of gratitude for Caritas, which I happily took and now share with you all who contributed to it. With good coordination at different levels EA’s seem to do really well on the ground!

At the obligatory picture I happened to be next to a lady with a beautiful little almost newly born baby. I made a wish that the baby would have a peaceful future and would experience better living conditions than the mother was experiencing.

And next time when I go to the supermarket I’ll take a moment to weigh up the real importance of the flour in my hands.

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Filed under Africa, Conflicts and Disasters, Emergencies, Kenya

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