James Muiruri, 15 years old, a student in class 8 and a mentee within Ripe For Harvest Eldoret Mentorship Program. He and his family (parents, sisters and brothers) recently are still living in the Lelmolok IDP Camp in Eldoret.
AP fellow Luna Liu interviewed James on 15th, July about his experiences during the 2007 post-election violence and his opinion about the RFH program. (Luna as L and James as J)
L: What happened to you post 2007 election?
J: On the night that the election result was declared, my parents’ house was burnt. My family lost almost all the animals and food, and I lost my books and uniforms.
L: How did this night and the whole turmoil impact you?
J: I realized that I need to study harder in order to help my parents in future as I saw most-uneducated people suffered most during the violence…Since we moved to the camp, I gained more awareness about basic hygienic. For example, I know we need to dig the drainage around our tent to reduce mosquitoes and malaria infection… I think I am better at time management than before as I have more things to do to help my parents, compared with the time when we were living in the house.
L: What are “more” things that you have to do since living in the tent?
J: Before digging a well nearby our tent recently, we had to walk three kilometers to fetch water for family use. I need to clean the toilet more often (as it was public shared) constantly maintain the space in our tent.
L: How do you think about the Ripe For Harvest Mentorship Program during your living in the IDP Camp?
J: The mentors brought us clothes. They also told me how to live my life in the tent. They also listened to our experience, when we almost lost everything and had no hope. Their visiting let me feel that I am not forgotten and I can seek help from others. My mentor sets up a good model for me—he is from a poor family and raised by his single mother, but now he is a (engineering) student in Moi University. From his experience, I knew the importance of hard working. He also taught me how to treat the local Kalenjins and now we are accepted by out Kalenjin neighbors.
L: How about your schoolmates? How did your Kalenjin schoolmates treat you post 2007 election violence?
J: Some of them said to me as “Kikuyu, go back to your own land!” But my Kalenjin friends in the school understood my situation and their attitude towards me did not change.
L: Besides your experience about the 2007 post-election violence, what else do you talk with your mentors?
J: We talked about the drug issue as some of my friends have this problem. We also talked about children trafficking as one of my close friends disappeared and we suspected that he was trafficked.
L: What other activities did you do with your mentors?
J: We played soccer, jumping and volleyball. We also made jokes with each other. I am really happy to be with them.
L: What more do you think should be added to your mentorship program?
J: I wish to have more sports and academic tutoring. Also reading materials such as innovation books.
L: What things do you think should be done to prevent the same kind of trauma from happening again?
J: The fighting groups should be reconciled as I think. I am not comfortable with ICC (trial) as I think there will be more violence happening to us. A good governance is also needed.
Posted By Luna Liu
Posted Jul 31st, 2009