>>Turkana Emergency Appeal July 26th 2011<< The Parish of Turkwel
The Diocese of Lodwar is located in the N.W. of Kenya, in the great Rift Valley. The one million people who live in the diocese are from the Turkana Tribe. This vast area, the size of Ireland is the poorest, most extreme region of Kenya, a forgotten land, a victim of state neglect.
The Diocese of Lodwar serves the Turkana Administrative District. It is bordered to the west by Uganda, to the North West, Sudan to N.E. Ethiopia and to the East Somalia. The problems in many of these neighbouring countries affects daily life for the Turkana people.
The Lodwar, Turkana climate is hot and dusty all year, droughts are commonplace and hard to bear. The extremely harsh conditions reek much havoc on the local people’s crops, cattle and lifestyle. In short, the climate makes this region a most difficult and challenging place to live and simply to survive. The Lodwar word itself means ‘bitter’ . To most outsiders including other Kenyans, Lodwar is a place very much apart the ‘bad lands’.
The Turkana People
The Turkana people who now number short of one million human beings were traditionally described as the ‘fieriest warriors in all of Africa’, however, all historical labels no longer reflect these great people.
By tradition the people are nomadic, owning herds of goats, cattle and if you are very wealthy camels. Many spend their day looking after their animals, leading them between water holes and fresh pasture, true ‘good shepherds’. In recent years many of the Turkana people have settled in small settlements, the traditional home of a Turkana family is called ‘Manyatta.’
The Turkana people are very spiritual, with ‘Akuj’ meaning God placed at the centre of all prayer, meetings and thanksgivings, they are a very joyful, welcoming, highly spirited and musical people.
Life in the Turkana region also requires a great deal of endurance and resilience to survive against the odds.
The Turkana people live in a completely hostile desert environment constantly threatened by famine, drought and tribal differences. Life expectancy is no more than 47 years for a man and 49 for a woman, many die long before that, victims of malnutrition, HIV/Aids, malaria. Indeed the challenges faced by these people on a daily basis are marked on their faces.
Women are the drivers of the economy in Turkana, although traditionally men have full authority over family and business affairs, it is the women who carry out most of the physical work. The lives of women especially those who have given up their traditional nomadic way of life and those who have little or no education are particularly difficult. On average only 15 in every 100 women are able to write.
The Lodwar Diocese
The role of the Diocese cannot be underestimated to the survival of the Turkana people providing;
- Nutritional clinic to provide food for babies and young children
- Schools for all children, able bodied and disabled
- Wells to provide fresh water
- Homes for vulnerable children left orphaned by HIV/Aids
- Outreach Medical Centres providing Primary Health Care.
- Food aid to the Turkana people
- The only Hospital in Diocese
- Indeed the diocese is the largest employer in the area
The Parish Church in Turkwel is called Saint Kizito, named after one of the youngest of the 12 Ugandian Martyrs.
There are 2 schools in the parish, Turkana Girl’s Primary School with 484 girls between 7-16 years. The second school is a mixed school of 800 pupils. The conditions are sparse and basic to say the least, however, the pupil’s appetite for learning is palpable and they show great joy at being educated.
During the year, we remember our link parish and the Turkana People through our prayers and financial support. A detailed report is presented to the parish each year outlining how our donations have been spent in supporting the Turkana People and the various projects in the diocese of Lodwar.