Worst day of our lives, but we are coping
Posted Friday, May 25 2012 at 22:30
- Victims of Syokimau demolitions relive the pain they have suffered and how they are struggling to put their lives together again
From living in her three-bedroom house in Syokimau, she now lives in a single room near Mlolongo river. From here, she toils in the neighbourhood, washing peoples’ clothes for a living.
She had lived in the area for five years before the bulldozers arrived.
“We built a house there when no one else lived there. Giraffes and other wild animals used to pass around our compound,” she says.
Her husband left the family a year before the demolition, rendering her the sole breadwinner. She opened a hair dressing shop near her house, but it was the first to be flattened by the bulldozers.
“I had equipped the salon well to generate some income. Now I am a pauper,” she says.
The main worry for the 35-year-old woman is her children’s education. Two of her children are supposed to sit their KCSE examinations this year, but they have been out of school for much of the year.
Mrs Irene Sigei is another victim of the Syokimau demolitions. She had just moved into her new house when the demolition squad arrived. Together with her husband, she was in the process of laying the interior tiles, which she had bought for Sh200,000.
“The house was looking good that Saturday evening, the children were excited. However, we woke up to a rude shock the following day,” she says.
With no place to go, the family moved into a tiny two-room house in Mlolongo.
Her two daughters aged eight and four are still traumatised. They are scared of passing near buildings.
“I have tried to stay sane for the sake of the family; I had to be strong for my husband and children,” she says. “I thank God because we are still in one piece, though we have gone through hell,” she says.
Mr Kiriinya, Mrs Sigei and the other victims still wonder how they were allowed to construct houses without as much as a warning from the authorities.
Mr Ben Agava, the chairman of a get-together group formed by residents after the demolitions, says officials from Mavoko County Council used to inspect the houses during the construction.
Mr Agava, 35, used to run a school at Syokimau. The school, together with his house, were demolished. “By the time of the demolition, the school had 330 pupils,” he says.
He estimates that he lost about Sh19 million.
Mr Samwel Major Isiakho’s house was also demolished that day. “The children were very excited as I made arrangements to move our valuables to Syokimau. It never came to pass,” he says.
“I did not want to tell my family about what was happening. They only saw it on TV,” says Mr Isiakho