Tragedy in Solai, Kenya

On May 9th, tragedy struck the town of Solai in Nakuru County Kenya.

After a long drought, the rains returned with a vengeance, making up for lost time. A large dam in Nakuru County had been steadily collecting water. And on Wednesday it finally burst under the pressure.

A group of 4 boys in ragged clothing sit on a fallen log. Many children lost parents or siblings in this tragedy.

The dam released a flood of water into a residential area, sweeping people and homes along in its wake. Reports say a powerful wave almost five feet high washed almost 20 million gallons of water through the town of Solai. People, cars, boulders and houses were all tumbled down hill together, some not stopping for six miles.

A smashed up SUV, coated in mud, surrounded by debris. The collapsing dam swept up anything in its path - including vehicles, houses, and people.

A partially destroyed building. One wall is missing entirely; the remaining walls are crumbling. It will take a long time to rebuild.

46 people lost their lives in the flood, many of them children. Many more were injured, and hundreds lost their homes. The villages in the flood’s path were mostly poor areas. As is too often the case in these types of tragedies, the victims were the families who could least afford it. Many were day laborers surviving on less than $3 a day. They didn’t have much. But what little they had is now gone, swept away or buried in mud.

This tragedy strikes particularly close to home for Childcare Worldwide. The dam is located just 12 miles from our Kenya office in Nakuru.

Michael Wafula, our director in Africa, is coordinating our response, and our staff in Kenya have been working long hours to ensure those in need are well cared for.

A crowded room, with mattresses, piles of clothes, and people covering every inch of the floor. Families are taking refuge wherever they can.

About 300 families lost their homes, and are currently taking shelter on the grounds of a nearby high school. Our particular concern is for the children. “Most of them are traumatized,” says Michael Wafula, “they lost their siblings and friends. 22 children died.”

Our response is not limited to meeting immediate basic needs, like food, water, and shelter. We are also focusing on emotional healing, particularly for the children who lost family members. There are six children that we know of who lost both parents in this tragedy, who will especially need care.

On Sunday our team partnered with a local church to spend a day helping the children process their trauma. Armed with crayons, smiles, songs and face-paint, we provided a space for them to just be kids, and activities to distract them from their grief.

A crowd of children showing off their art work and painted faces. Taking time in the midst of the chaos to remind children they are loved!

About 300 children participated. At the end of the day we also distributed food packages to their families.

But this is just the beginning. Healing from this tragedy will be a long process and we will be there to help in any way we can!

Childcare Worldwide is grateful to partner with generous people all over the world to build a better life for kids in need. If you’re interested in helping families affected by this tragedy in Solai, Kenya, click here.

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