Apart from the constant attacks, farming communities live in abject poverty as they are always affected by prolonged drought spells.
“For nearly three years since 2020, there was no rain and so, people couldn't grow anything on their farms. People here are so poor and not many of them can afford to take their children to school,” Fr. Kimbi says.
He says that many children in the villages fail to proceed with their education after completing primary school, and explains, “There is not a single secondary school in Kakathe and children from the village have to go all the way to Witu to join high school. This is very expensive for parents who can barely afford meals for their families.”
“Most school-going children from villages are forced to live in rented houses for them to attend the public school in Witu town. Not every parent can afford this. Additionally, some parents are not comfortable letting their under-age children stay by themselves in rented houses. That is why many children end up dropping out of school after primary school,” Fr. Kimbi says.
At the moment, St. Joseph Freinademetz Witu-Kipini Parish is providing accommodation to some 80 girls from the village who came to attend a day school in town.
(Story continues below)
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Asked to share his fears from working in a region that is prone to attacks, Fr. Kimbi says, “I don't fear for my own life. What concerns me most is the well-being of the people.”
Credit: Fr. Alex Kimbi
“As a missionary, I was prepared to work anywhere. Here, you leave the house not knowing what you will run to on your way. But I know I have to be there for the people no matter the risks involved,” the MHM priest says.
Witu is heavily militarised owing to its proximity to Boni Forest, Fr. Kimbi told ACI Africa March 7, and added, “There are soldiers stationed inside the forest and they face lots of dangers every day. It is my duty to offer them psychosocial support because they sometimes lose their colleagues in attacks. I often reach to them to offer them counseling.”
Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.