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April 19, 2007

Milimani bulldozing three months later

I can't believe it's been three months since the World Social Forum and since my wild experience with the bulldozing behind the hostel in Nairobi (see January posts). Today, I went back.

As I walked up the entrance alley, my heart jumped to see a familiar looking structure set up--a store!! My mind said, "Ah! Rising from the ashes--yes!" And then I walked in and saw that this was the only structure on the property.

I hardly walked in ten feet when a man said, "Hey, I remember you-- you're that journalist!" He quickly informed me that the case was still in court ("land claims take a long time!") so everyone is just waiting. Many people still have not found homes, and many are squatting in the upper area that was not bulldozed. No one is building on the land, and the weeds are beginning to take over.

They did, however, rebuild the restaurant out of the half-standing concrete building. They said, "we need to eat. People are starving." Inside the restaurant was a newly painted room with a menu written on the wall. The chappatis and spinach dish looked great. Next door were some men drinking tea.... and then up the hill was a temporary structure housing another restaurant and a bar. A handful of people were sitting around eating and drinking.

They all said that they are in limbo, that things are tough, and that they are just waiting.

And they asked what I can do to help them. Again, I felt helpless.

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