The smell of gunfire. The shots have been coming since morning. Yesterday the huge guy in heavy American accent told us that all would be well. But it has not been well. Towards today dawn, there were sporadic exchanges of fire. We woke up to shells falling and guns racking the wild of the night as children, women and men scampered to find holes where we could hide our heads. Nobody stood to wonder why a hospital was under attack. Amid those shouts and cries and in the darkness, we ran, sometimes knocking into each other and changing direction.
There’s a rumour that those who hid in the Paediatrics Wing were evacuated. Those who ran to the admin offices were all killed. Those of us in the lab have not registered big casualties. Only three shot dead. Plus a boy whose death did not come from a bullet.
We are clutched to each other, to shield each other in the hope that a bullet will not find us, and that if it finds us, it shall not penetrate. We are clutched to each other hoping that if we go back to the God who hates us, we shall at least go back demonstrating what love is.
A child cries somewhere in the heart of the hall. I hear a man growl to reprimand the mother. Such noise is a crime here. Yesterday they strangled a three year old because the idiot decided to start wailing in the dark for no clear reason. We pretended not to know what was happening even as we heard the boy gasp and fight for air. In the morning his body was pushed to the edge of the room before someone got the courage and threw it out through the window.
I am a nurse. Or nurse aid. After Green Light Secondary, I trained as a primary school teacher. But the situation at Kakuma was dire and a friend in the WHO made me assist her in almost all the tasks at the camp. That is how I began. In Kenya, there were no big health issues. Here, especially in the last two years, we have been receiving people with serious physical injuries. I have stitched hundreds. There are days I attend to more than 50 men and women with serious machete injuries, much as that may sound unrealistic. I have attended hundreds of civilians who fall casualties to fire attacks. Some of them go back home. Some of them I have seen die.
We never knew our fate would get to this. There was the fighting, but at the hospital we knew we were safe because we were restoring lives to both camps. Then they struck the first time. It was said to be friendly fire. But two Chinese died and a number of locals were injured. Then last week, one of our staff was caught on his way to work. I think he gave the soldiers the wrong answers because apart from being given the chance to text us at the hospital, they killed him and dropped his body on the roadside. Now it is scary.
People have been going away silently.
Foreign nationals have been leaving in the few chances that calm came our way. The South African nurse was evacuated the other day. The two Canadians at the laboratory were also flown back home. We have been left alone to kill each other if we like. Even though it is hard to believe, the hard truth is that nobody will ever evacute us because we are home. The role to find peace squarely lies in our hands.
I have lived in Kenya for four years. In those four years I stayed at the Kakuma Refugee Camp except on two occasions when I travelled to Nairobi on a paid trip for Duol’s wedding and the second time when I was going to take the flight to Juba. On those two occasions I learnt two things. One that Kakuma was never the representation of Kenya. Two, that the whole area of Northern Kenya would never be like Nairobi even in the next thousand years. The two regions are like day and night in terms of urbanisation and technological advancement. But what i now come to think about is how the two regions come together to call themselves kenya. They are one thing despite the seasoned inequalities that politics and nature have always done to their fate.
Last week they told us that some people were already moving north into Sudan as refugees. Which was not a bad thing. But I thought we would be better going up north as visitors and equals and not as beggars after we decided to secede from Khartoum. But a person in war does not choose.
Fire continues outside. There is an explosion, followed by the cracking of heavy war guns. Unlike in the morning, there are no more human cries. It is like they have killed all of themselves and left a gun at either end to fire and respond to fire.
I wonder. Why do we keep killing? At Kakuma we had Somalis, Rwandese, Congolese, Burundians. All of them said very nasty stories of wars in their countries. They were so horrible that I thought Al-Bashir was a bit fair he killed Garang softly. Then we got independence and most of us came back. Nobody just told us what we were coming back to. Nobody cared to tell us that we were coming back to moving graves South of the sick Sahara.
Yesterday I saw perhaps the most horrifying thing before I die. It was a huge blast. Then the hospital began coming down. We were on the first floor of the three-floored building. Many died. Others had themselves or part of themselves trapped in the rubble they couldn’t move. Yesterday I lost my left leg.
When we lay in that rubble, there was no tribe. There was no religion. There was no country or race. Just humans with blood pretending to have hopes in a future we knew would never come even if miracles were given chance. It was no need crying to a God we knew was too overwhelmed with the situation he could never save himself from it in the first time. In that rubble I knew what life is. I knew the cost of having a human, even in misery, walk on their two legs and live a life of their own.
What I need now are two things. A glass of clean water and a big hug from a random stranger. I want to live again.