The Lamplighter Movement has seventeen chapters in Africa. They are all struggling. with poverty, with violence, with child sexual abuse. Kenya is on my mind a lot as my newest chapter is in Kenya and it is a children’s chapter. Twenty children, all sexual abuse victims, all orphans, struggle with poverty, needing food and clothes. I want to go there and wrap my arms around them, take them to safety, feed them, teach them ways to get rid of their nightmares. My facilitator from that chapter calls me frequently, me trying to understand his accented English and no doubt him trying to understand my own what must seem to him, accented English.
Then I turn the television on and there is Kenya, with my children, worrying about how far they are from that shopping center, finding out it is in Nairobi, which is more than five hours from my children’s chapter in Migori Suna. But we have a chapter in Nairobi. I begin to worry. Are my people safe? The Red Cross confirms that sixty-eight people are confirmed dead, some of them innocent children. One thousand people managed to escape from the shopping center. Kenyan’s president reveals that his own nephew and his nephew’s fiancé had been killed in the attack. Two Canadians, including a female diplomat, two French citizens, three Britons, A Chinese and a South African were among the victims. No one is immune.
When will this senseless violence cease. Are we to be plagued with one man’s anger against another man forever? It is an anger that has no resolution, no reasonable explanation, like children playing in a schoolyard, one saying to the other, “If you cross my line I will shoot you.” Only these are not children. They are adults who have never grown up. Grownups resolve differences with dialogue, with compromise, with understanding. Grownups do not need guns to resolve their problems. The Islamic militant group, al-Shabaab who initiated this carnage, say the Kenyan government continues to massacre innocent Muslims in Somalia, despite warnings. This is a reference to Kenyan troops being sent into Somalia in 2011 in order to fight al-Shabaab. Not content with murder they have captured an unknown number of hostages.
The children keep coming into my mind. I think of all the other chapters we have in Africa. In addition to the two previously mentioned in Kenya we have one more in Makindu, Kenya, six in South Africa, two in Sudan, one in Uganda, three in Nigeria, one in Rwanda and one in Ghana. Through the months and years, you hear of all of them suffering from violence, from poverty, from severe child sexual abuse. No place is safe.
The children in my chapters are on my mind so often. They all need something. They need more food, more clothing, and no violence, no child sexual abuse. What will happen to them as they grow up? Will they too mimic what they see the adults doing and become violent themselves? I pray not. We need to teach them how to resolve their differences without violence. We need to open a whole new world for them. Or would it matter. Is this senseless violence something they like doing? Would a whole new world of peace and security seem boring and childish to them? We don’t know the answers. Some days we don’t even know the questions.