Sunday, January 21, 2007

sweet jesus
i have been pondering in my head through the busy busy days of the last week, thinking about some witty and clever hideaous kinky-esque blog i should write about how my luggage was lost and how xenia had a fever so high for two days that her face rashed out bright red and we had to go to the clinic up the street (which, by the way, was better than ANY clinic i have EVER seen in the USA). i wanted to tell you all about the massai villages i saw and the massai beer i drank right outside the mara the day we headed back to civilization from our safari (where masai warriors with spears and bows and arrows guarded our camp and had to scare hyenas and lions away). it is hot as hell here, with amazingly delicious bananas and refreshing rain at night.

then the forum was kicked off yesterday, after unorganzied and hectic check-ins in downtown nairobi. there was a march from kibera (the 2nd largest slum in all of africa- over 1 million people living in extreme poverty) to uhuru park where a concert with amazing african mucic and cultural events and speakers inspired me and made me start to feel good about the world again. we walked back to the hostel where we have downsized to a tent (because of rats infesting our walls) and fell fast asleep after a cold beer and some yummy vegetables.

at about 10:15pm, i started waking to crazy sounds of women and chldren screaming and what i thought were fireworks. there was a late concert last night and i assumed people were partying out in the streets. within moments, our friend claire, from ireland came to our tent and explained that police were bulldozing the entire neighborhood just over the fence from our hostel. apparently, nearly 1000 people, mostly families with small businesess who have lived there for many years, were "squatting" on private property. the police came the day before and said to get out. they had nowhere to go, so they came for them after dark.

they smashed windows and drug sleeping women and children from their homes and demolished several homes. when they ran out of fuel for their bulldozers, they began smashing windows and kicking in doors and tearing the metal/tin roof off of the homes with people inside. they re-fueled around 1am and carried on for more than 2 hours. i had moved my kids inside to a dorm room where a woman from mill valley was sleeping and spent the night talking and planning with the over 20 activists from italy, colombia, canada, ireland, usa, uk, australia, spain, etc about what to do to help. we sent out emails, took video footage of people being nearly run down by police bulldozers and photos and made phone calls to the media. i slept on the couch in the main room for about 2 hours and woke feeling beyond horrible.

before we left for the forum this morning, i went out for bananas at a fruit stand and walked around the alley to see the damage. it was beyond anything i have ever seen in my life. everyone from the hostel (which included a couple of journalists) were taking photos and talking to people. i spoke with a man who has lived there with his kids for over 3 years. he has no place to go. he also told me that the police only got to a small portion of the neighborhood and would be coming back tonight. there is a huge garbage truck with residents piling their belongings in before their houses get smashedm parked in front of the hostel right now. i am heading over there when i am done with this to see if i can help move their things out. i keep thinking that at least these families got a warning and that i won't hear screaming all night but it is still the most heartbreaking thing i have witnessed. the alcoholic, ex-uk military guy who owns and runs this place is out on safari for a week, so i may at least 'liberate' some blankets and hand them out over the fence.

i hope you all enjoyed my super uplifting update from me. i don't have time to check in on the web much, as there is only one computer here, with 75+ people/activists and it is hard to find time to actually write without some snotty brit breathing down your throat. i miss you all, but i do not miss home at all.

I hope you are all well. don't worry about me being in danger, i feel safe here and the kenyan people are amazing and kind. i'll update more later.

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