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What happened in Kenya in 2007-2008?


Kenya crisis 2008

  • More than 1,000 people were killed and many more injured in violent clashes and rioting across Kenya, following the results of the general elections announced on 30 December 2007.

  • More than 300,000 people were affected and/or displaced – some literally running for their lives as their houses burned to the ground – seeking refuge in police stations, churches and market centres.

  • More than 5,000 Kenyans crossed the border into Uganda

  • Abiathar House was born as a response to seeing the children in crisis on the streets either abandoned or orphaned by the violence.



The impact of the Kenya Crisis on children

This news article is taken from the IRIN website, [2] it gives the reader an accurate representation of the climate in Kenya in 2007-8. This climate gave rise to ABIATHAR HOUSE.


“One of the greatest challenges following the post-election violence in Kenya is to restore the physical and mental wellbeing of 150,000 displaced children, many of whom have witnessed atrocities and lost contact, in many cases permanently, with their families,” said a  humanitarian worker for IRIN news.

The future of Kenya is very dark because the children we are bringing up, the things they saw, we don’t know how those things are going to [affect] their lives,” said James Riako, a volunteer counsellor with the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS), working in a transit camp for displaced people in the grounds of St Stephen’s Cathedral in Kisumu, the capital of Nyanza Province in western Kenya.

“The children are harbouring a lot. They were drawing pictures for us. One child said: ‘Somebody came and killed my parents when I was there. We were burnt and I am the only one who survived.’ Another one could not talk.



“They are harbouring a lot of anger, a lot of hatred, a lot of resentment and all their frustration. They know their people have been chased and that the other tribe is an enemy,” he said.

“Some of them are very revengeful,” agreed Rosemary Akoth Okomo, another counsellor. “If you ask them, ‘if you happened to meet a Kikuyu, what will you do?’, they will tell you, ‘I can even kill that person’. They keep thinking of the way they lost their parents, the way they lost their property. It haunts them.”

Evans Omondi, 13, a Luo who was displaced from Nakuru in Rift Valley Province when his house was burned down, said he did not want to see his former classmates, most of whom were Kikuyu, because “they might kill me”.


Riako was adamant that displaced children needed counselling to cope with their ordeals. “If you just take them [to their relatives’ homes], it will not help the nation. We need to draw out what is inside them. Then we make arrangements for following up with counselling so that we can get these things out of their minds,” he said.



Pamela Sittoni, a spokeswoman for the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, agreed. “A comprehensive counselling package has to be developed. [We’ll be] looking at how we can follow up with these children and provide the psycho-social support they need. That has to be a priority.”






Aside from the psychological risks, many children separated from their parents are in physical danger.



“It seems a man who was their neighbour saw their father killed and their mother taken to hospital. He knew they were Luos from Ahero so he put them on a bus to Kisumu,” said Sister Philomena, who runs the orphanage.



She registered the children with the police and the children’s department in the hope that their mother would look for them.



“The other day, the children’s officers brought me two more abandoned children. They don’t know whether the parents are dead or not. We expect more,” said Sister Philomena.



At risk


Security lapses have allowed strangers to remove some children from the transit camp.

Kevin Otieno, 15, was taken by a woman looking for a domestic worker. Luckily, staff noticed Kevin was missing and the police managed to trace him. Kevin was the only member of his family to escape when their house in Naivasha was set on fire.



“There is a lady who came here today asking us to give her a child. She wants two children to adopt under five. We asked her, ‘who told you children are being given away here?’ Some people want to use the kids for business,” said Teresa Agutu, one of the volunteers at the camp.



The KRCS was trying to trace the families of about 30 unaccompanied minors in Kisumu. Counsellors believe there are many more children without adult protection because not all minors passed through the transit camps in western Kenya after they arrived from other parts of the country.



“We have three children who have been staying at the [Moi Stadium] camp for almost three weeks now,” said Irene Owuor, tracing assistant with the KRCS. “We are liaising with the children’s department to find a place for the children to stay while we trace their people. They were born in Nairobi. All they know is they are Luos but they don’t know from which area [their families originally came].



“The children’s homes that we trust are run by the government because the other ones might have ulterior motives. The government does not promote private institutions because some are not genuine,” explained Owuor.



The KRCS had passed 13 children on to the children’s department, which placed them in a remand centre in Kisumu. Most of the other 46 children in the centre were awaiting trial for criminal offences.



“In Kisumu, we do not have a charitable children’s institution owned by the government apart from this one, which is a remand home,” said Kenneth Mbito, manager of the remand home.



“We keep them here although they are not supposed to be here. This is a temporary place of safety. It’s not the best place to keep these children because it is a place for children who have been charged with criminal activities. Mixing them is not the best but we have no alternative,” he said.



If the KRCS fails to trace the children’s families, the children will be put under state protection. The children’s department will then find alternative care for them, either in charitable children’s institutions or by offering them up for adoption.



Children who are placed with family members still face challenges, particularly if the relatives are poor. Owuor said the success rate for tracing children’s families was 30 to 40 percent.



“Most of them unfortunately are ending up in children’s homes,” she said. 


“Kids who are born in the towns find it rough in the villages. But those are their closest relatives so we have no alternative but to leave them there,” said Owuor.



“Our main aim is to get the child to be in a safe place and we assume the child is safe with real parents or close relatives. But that is not always the case; you find a relative taking a child and using the child for manual labour instead of taking good care of it.



UNICEF has a cash transfer programme to support poor families that take on extra orphans. “We are looking at whether the new situation calls for us to expand that programme,” said Sittoni.




  1. The Kenya Crisis of 2008 accessed June 2017 by the Red Cross

  2. Healing the Children by IRIN news accessed June 2017 

Children run for cover during a raid on the IDP camp at Nakuru show ground Taken from IRIN

Two children stand together as heavy rain falls at a temporary shelter for around 19,000 displaced people during post-election violence in Eldoret February 7, 2008. Photo/REUTERS  Taken from

A relative of a sixteen-year-old girl who was shot dead by police in the Kibera slum carresses her face at the local morgue in Nairobi 18 January 2008. Kenyan police shot Taken from

A man carries a child as he flees the violence in his neighborhood during ethnic clashes in the central Kenyan town of Nakuru 25 January 2008. The Kenyan authorities have imposed a night-time curfew on the western city of Nakuru, where tribal clashes have left 10 people dead in a day, police said Friday. Post-election violence has claimed close to 800 lives and displaced some 250,000 Kenyans Taken from

One of eight looters who were trying to vandalise a nearby store reacts after he was caught and beaten up by private guards in a street of Nakuru 26 January 2008. Ethnic clashes killed at least 15 people in Kenya’s western Rift Valley, police said Friday, diminishing hopes of an end to weeks of rioting and tribal killings sparked by disputed presidential polls. As violence exploded in the provincial capital Nakuru, where eight people were killed Friday, authorities imposed an overnight curfew — only the second since the start of the crisis last month 2008 Taken from

OA Kenyan boy screams as he sees kenyan policeman with a baton approach the door of his home in the Kibera slum of Nairobi 17 January 2008. Hundreds of police who had earlier clashed with supporters of Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga at the entrance of the slum moved into the shantytown and did a house to house search for protestors. 2008 Taken from

The body of a man who was reportedly shot by police is watched by a crowd in the central Kenyan town of Nakuru 26 January 2008. What started as post-election riots rapidly descended into settling of tribal vendettas, with marauding gangs armed with machetes, metals bars, bows and arrows stalking parts of the west of the country, which until the crisis was seen as a beacon of democracy and stability in the troubled east African region. The death toll from weeks of violence has topped 800 and is rising. 2008 NO CHILD SHOULD HAVE TO WITNESS THESE ATROCITIES

Violence in Kenya’s 2008 election Taken from The GUARDIAN UK read the article at

Useful links


WATCH a documentary about HEALING KENYA


WATCH a video – Pastor Hammond visiting Kenya at Abiathar House


LISTEN to the our CHILDREN SING at Abiathar House


MEET our CHILDREN at Abiathar House


Get involved with Abiathar House

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