“We weren’t sure when, how, or if we were going to be able to leave,” said Andrea Dykshoorn from her home in Abbotsford, British Columbia. Dykshoorn, a member of Living Hope Christian Reformed Church, was recalling her departure from Kenya in January following post-election unrest in that country.
Since August, Dykshoorn had been working for the Canadian International Development Agency in the remote village of Shikokho, Western Province, some 300 kilometers from Nairobi. Two friends, Jena Helmus from Chicago, and Heather Kooiman from Smithville, Ontario, were also working overseas, and the three met to spend Christmas together in Shikokho.
Christmas for the three women was calm, but the election loomed over their departure date. Election Day itself, Dec. 27, was quiet, but two days later instability had set in, the village lost power, they were unable to receive updates about the election, and roads closed across the country.
Their departure date came and went. Three days later a call came through that a transport would pick them up and drive them to an airport where a flight would take them to Nairobi.
Two armed guards in a military vehicle arrived shortly after and took the three women to a small airstrip where a Cessna waited to take them to Nairobi.
“We trusted the arrangements that had been made for us and went with those who came to get us,” said Dykshoorn. Dykshoorn and her friends are thankful, “but our hearts and prayers are with those we left behind who experienced horrific violence during those few days, especially the elderly, women, and children.”
On Feb. 28 Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga signed a power-sharing agreement, mediated by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, to end the country’s post-election crisis.