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Posts Tagged ‘kenya’

David’s farewell party

-Blog post by Reed Sandridge of Washington, DC

I wanted to update you on the latest news about David Ger – the charismatic young man from Kenya that has touched the hearts of so many followers of the Year of Giving.

You can read a more detailed chronological narrative of the sequence of events leading up to now, but basically David was my $10 recipient on Day 258. Through getting to know him I discovered that he wanted to try to find a cousin of his who was last known to be living in Poland. I Googled his name and posted it on the Year of Giving hoping that someone would know him, but no luck.

I snapped this photo of David on a recent visit we took to the Kenyan Embassy to make arrangements for his travel.

But then six months later I got a call from David’s cousin in Poland! I connected him with David and now they are closer to being reunited. After months of discussions and raising money to help pay for the costs, the day has finally come where he will be flying back to his home near Lake Victoria. It’s been nearly 15 years and along with the excitement must come a lot of anxiety too.

I will be sad to see my friend leave, but I think this is an amazing opportunity for him. I am throwing a little going away party for David this Monday night at One Lounge (1606 20th Street, NW) in DC. It’s right near the Dupont Circle Metro stop. Please stop by between 5:30 and 8pm to meet David if you haven’t already met him and wish him luck on his journey. Here’s a link to the invitation. We will also be accepting donations if you would like to help cover some of the costs. I’m hoping to raise $1,000.  If you can’t attend but still want to donate – just click here!

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Aftermath of the 1998 Nairobi embassy bombingOn the morning of August 7, 1998, Sammy woke up, did his chores, and went about his day like any other day.  Unfortunately, August 7th was not just another day.  Not if you lived in Nairobi, Kenya or Dar es Saleem, Tanzania.  

Between 10:30 am and 10:40 am local time, suicide bombers in trucks laden with explosives parked outside the US embassies in both cities and almost simultaneously detonated their payloads.  In Nairobi, more than 200 people were killed, and an estimated 4,000 wounded; in Dar es Salaam, there were 11 killed and almost 100 wounded.  Despite being targeted at Americans, the victims were largely local citizens.  Only 12 Americans were killed.  Osama bin Laden is said to be responsible for the attacks.

Sammy working at 18th and M in DC (Photo: Reed)

Unfortunately Sammy was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He ended up under the rubble in Nairobi for three days.  He survived with only two broken legs and some other minor injuries.  Sadly he lost three business associates that morning.

In 2001 Sammy came to the US to testify in the trials against the alleged perpetrators of the horrible massacre.  He then came back in 2007 to attend a conference but ended up staying due to the violence that erupted in his home country after incumbent President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner of the presidential election held on December 27, 2007.

Now homeless, he has been here since then selling the Street Sense paper.  You can usually find him around the intersection where Connecticut, M, and 18th Streets come together.  His goal is to return to Kenya by the end of the year and start a street paper similar to Street Sense.  “There are almost no homeless in Kenya” he told me.  People may stay with family or in what might be considered substandard housing from a US perspective, but they don’t have hardly anyone he said that you would find sleeping on the streets of Nairobi. 

Sammy let me ask him a few questions on camera.

As you saw, Sammy plans to save my $10 and put it toward his street paper venture in Kenya when he returns next year.  If you have any interest in helping Sammy start his paper, he is actively looking to work with partners and individuals.  Drop me a note and I can connect you with him.

Despite the terrible events of August 1998, Sammy manages to keep an optimistic spirit and maintains hope for a better tomorrow.

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