Last Saturday we returned to Soin in Kerio Valley, scene of last month’s devastating landslide. The contrast was remarkable. This time as we made our careful descent on the switchback roads we could see and feel the heat haze rising. The views of the escarpment and the valley were truly stunning and we saw many beautiful birds and butterflies.
After 40 minutes of careful and very safe driving by Revd. Maritim we reached the house of Jeremy, the vicar for Soin parish, where we were warmly welcomed. We sat and listened to him in stunned silence. The parish is a missionary area of the Anglican Church and has several congregations. In order to visit them all for services and pastoral support Jeremy travels up to 22 Kilometres up and down the escarpment on foot. He sets out at 6 a.m. to arrive in time for an 11 o’clock service, having walked over rough terrain, full of snakes and in unbelievable heat.
After we had drunk some interesting coffee and eaten freshly roasted ground nuts we set off to view the scene of the landslide. At Jeremy’s main church a team of parishioners were working hard, still clearing the mud from two weeks ago so that the church can reopen.
As Jeremy sang hymns and some of the psalms of ascent, we climbed up the hill side behind the church and there we surveyed the scene. There were a few signs of crops and livestock remaining where previously there had been a series of small holdings (shambani). They have still to recover the body of one child. We met the lay reader and saw where his house had once stood and were humbled by his gratitude that he and his family had escaped unharmed despite losing everything else.
We drank tea under a beautiful tree and talked (Maritim interpreted) with the people of this sheltered community, laughing about the differences between us and finding commonality in it all.
Then we went on to the camp where the 57 homeless families are now living in tents fashioned from home made wooden frames covered by plastic tarpaulins donated by the Red Cross. We gave them the food we had bought with the kind donations of friends in the UK and they prayed for the donors!
Our final stop was at the home of Joseph and Jane, the parents of the bride whose betrothal we had missed on the day of the landslide. We sat in the welcome shade of their house, drinking tea and eating fruit fresh from the trees in their garden. Once again, we were presented with gifts as we left……the generosity and hospitality of these people is overwhelming, whatever they have, they share.
Much food for thought for us this week.