By Elizabeth Atieno
Turkana County occupies the North Western part of Kenya. With an area of 77,000 square km, the county is the largest in the country. It shares international borders with Ethiopia to the north, South Sudan to the North West and Uganda to the west. Within Kenya, the County borders Marsabit to the East, Samburu to the south East and Baringo and West Pokot Districts to the South. Turkana County’s northern border with Ethiopia has seen several conflicts and disputes. The northern tip of Turkana is known as the Ilemi Triangle, an area governed by Kenya but claimed by South Sudan.
This is the story of one Turkana County resident with a special story and an important connect to Shalom’s peace-building efforts.
Teresia Ikaale is a Turkana woman who was born in 1953. She lives in Kibish, Loruth location, Loruth Esekon sub-location which is in the very north of the Ilemi Triangle where the borders of Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan intersect. Conflict is nothing new to Teresia.
She recounted her ordeal tracing back to the year 1988, when she was in Lokomarinyang not far from Kibish, in a small manyatta (homestead), when members from a neighboring ethnic community raided her home and took away her cows, goats and donkeys. In the confusion of the attack, Teresia suffered the worst emotional hurt that a mother can experience when her son, a young boy, was killed as she held him in her arms. Amidst the sounds of the bullets and the agony of losing her son, Teresia tried to jump over the fence to her home, only to be shot three times, once in her left hand and twice in the leg.
The pain of losing a family member was to re-visit Teresia again after she and her husband relocated to Kibish, which lies along the border of neighboring countries and is prone to insecurity. Just when she was hoping she had run away from troubles, she lost another boy, to a bandit attack as he was heading back home from herding their animals.
Teresia’s story is about the spirit of a woman who in facing all the obstacles that can take away all faith in life continues to show resilience for that very life. Since the early tragedies, Teresia has lost her husband in January of this year to sickness and saw her house raised to the ground accidentally by fire the very same month.
Shalom met Teresia at a workshop for peace-building in February where she showed a commitment to learn and know more about peace. Her attendance at the workshop was an expression of desire to see a future for her community that will live in harmony with each other and the neighboring ethnic communities. Life seems unimaginable for Teresia, but she comments that “we can do better, we can make the world a better place and we can work together for peace.”
Shalom has committed itself to working with survivors like Teresia, and with the different ethnic communities who live in Ilemi triangle. Our team will be returning to Kibish next month to continue to journey with Teresia and the communities in learning more skills in searching for peace that they desire so to build a future for their children.