Twenty-five families, who are survivors of the Solai dam tragedy in Nakuru, but who missed out on the Red Cross housing project, have now received houses which they were promised by a church.
The families received the 16 houses of four bedrooms each, located on a three-acre piece of land in Nyakinyua village, which was among those affected by the tragedy.
Another nine houses will be built so that each family can own a house.
Even though the handing over of the new houses on Thursday meant a new beginning for the families, the sad memories of the night of the tragedy still fresh in their minds.
Some of the victims, overwhelmed by the memories, wept openly as they spoke to journalists.
Elizabeth Akiru, 33, a mother of three who lost her mother and her niece, wept as she remembered how the cruel hand of death robbed her of the jewels of her life that night.
“I want to thank God for having spared my life but I lost my mother and my niece in that incident. But I have just left it to God,” she said amid tears.
Ms Akiru explained how she managed to escape the horror, only for it to consume part of her family.
“We heard the cracking sound of the gushing waters and we immediately dashed out. Unknowingly, we took the route where the water was flowing from. By luck I managed to escape with my three children and my young sister. When I tried to call my mother she was unavailable and [later I realised] she had been swept away.
“I am happy for this organization that has given us these houses. We had nowhere to call home, but at least for now, the hand of God has been seen in these predicaments,” she said.
Eunice Chepchirchir, 36, and a mother of five children, said she is hopeful that by getting the new houses, the bad memories of the tragedy will eventually be buried.
Although she escaped with her life, Ms Chepchirchir lost all her belongings. She said life has been a nightmare since then.
“We managed to escape although my house was swept away. Since then, I have been renting a house in Solai town. However, with these new houses, I want to forget all that happened and forge a new life,” she said.
Catherine Nambenyo, 27, and a mother of two, tearful narrated how she lost six members of her family who included her two sisters, a brother-in-law and two nieces in that tragedy.
“We lost six people in that incident. I was running a kiosk in Solai town but it was washed away. I managed to save my life and that of my two children but the rest of my family perished,” she said amid sobs.
The 25 families who are the latest beneficiaries of the new houses, were casual employees, many of them working at the Patel dam and had rented houses at Solai trading centre.
When they missed out on the Red Cross housing project, a local church and a Christian organisation – Compassion International – started to mobilise resources to help them get houses.
Rev Jose Mugambi of the Free Pentecostal Fellowship Church of Kenya said after the tragedy, the church started to look for means to assist the families.
He said that they approached Compassion International to jointly partner in mobilising resources.
“We saw how people were suffering after the tragedy. Many people lost their lives and properties. So we approached Compassion International and other locals for resource mobilisation that led to the purchase of this land.
Then we did some fundraising and managed to build them these houses. There are 16 house at the moment but our target is to have 25 houses so that each of the families will have its own house,” the Rev Mugambi said
Ms Sarah Mwangi, a child advocacy facilitator for Compassion Intentional in Nakuru County, said the organisation partnered with the church to assist those who had lost their houses after they were swept away by the floods.
Most of them, she said, were in informal settlements and did not have their own land. They lost everything during the incident.
“We mobilised a lot of local resources, did a lot of fundraising from friends and other churches to buy the land. We also got local resources in terms of materials and labour,” Ms Mwangi said.