Shelter Reconstruction In Kisumu County: The Story Of Elizabeth Ondijo
“I can never forget that day!” These are the first words that came from the 59 year old widow, Elizabeth Ondijo, when we first sat down to talk to her at her home in Katito Village, Kisumu County.
“I am a business woman and therefore sell clothes and petrol in the village market for a living and that’s what I was doing on the day I lost my house.” Elizabeth continues to narrate her ordeal that saw her lose most of her belongings.
“Well, it had been raining through the better part of the day and when it subsided, I packed up and left for home to go take care of my children.”
“I remember getting to the bridge that borders my home and wondering why the vehicles were not moving past it. Upon moving closer, I realized that the road was cut off by flood waters, making it impossible for vehicles to cross over to the other side. All that ran through my mind at that point was my children.”
At this point of her narration, Elizabeth’s face was full of expressions including panic and confusion. We could tell that this flashback was one that gives her goosebumps to date.
“I said a silent prayer for God to protect my children, took a long breath, held the bridge rails and began the walk towards my house. The drivers were all shouting at me not to dare go that direction, but I had the determination of checking on my children.”
By the time she got to her compound gate, water was past the waist level, but this did not deter Elizabeth from her mission.
“I began calling out my children by their names, Sarah! Sera! Wendy! Movine! Where are you my children?” Elizabeth recounted the moment.
“We are here mum in the house,” Elizabeth narrates the reply she got from her children.
Elizabeth describes the relief of finding all her children as she waded through the water and evacuated each of them to safety. She also had to equally rescue her cattle which were also in the shed but died the following day due to effects of the floods.
“I lost everything, including my house which later collapsed with the raging flood waters. We were hosted by our village chief at the Town Centre Hall where we received blankets, tarpaulins, and a kitchen sets from the Kenya Red Cross Society.”
Elizabeth was later relocated to her home by the community which made a makeshift structure because they felt that she was a bit elderly to stay at the temporary camp site with her children.
“Kenya Red Cross did not stop at that, they called us together and taught us about safe shelter and reconstruction. Later, they send me 36,000 shillings on my phone which I used to purchase poles for rebuilding and then they brought me iron sheets which I am using as roofing for my house,” she narrated.
Elizabeth is among 89 families that lost their houses following floods in the Kisumu County. Flood affected families have been receiving cash disbursed in three instalments from the KRCS to facilitate the rebuilding process. The first phase covered the purchase of locally available materials among them building poles, sisal ropes, mud, water and engaging an artisan. This also covers the construction of the wall super structure.