Monday, September 23, 2013


The helicopters continue overhead.  The reality of what's happened at Westgate is now setting in. We got back to Nairobi sunday around 2pm, and it was strange how normal the streets of Nairobi seemed to be. But, yesterday afternoon we got messages from the children's schools, the embassy, etc - more details of who amongst the classmates or expat community are injured, missing or dead. We're now getting more details of exactly what happened saturday inside that mall that we frequent probably close to once a week - usually on weekends. Now, the enormity of what's actually transpired is becoming clearer.  Michael and I are somber and concerned. Not so much for our immediate personal safety - just a bit stunned by how easily that could've been us, scrambling to hide inside the Nakumatt store or sheltering our children from gunshots.

A fourth grader from ISK (Matthew's school) was injured after sustaining two gunshot wounds in the leg. Last we heard her mother and brother were missing. I found out an hour ago that they were found dead.  My colleague/friend from work - one of the only other Americans at my office with two young children - was caught inside and apparently went into hiding inside Nakumatt with his family. Somehow they escaped and got out saturday afternoon.  Now that I've read accounts of what exactly happened in there, I've extended another offer of support for soup or company - he hasn't taken me up on that just yet. I remain concerned about how they're really doing.

We've received a directive to "shelter-in-place" and so we have. My office is closed today. Only essential personnel are to report to the Embassy. Even though the schools are open, the situation outside seems to be very tense, and we live so close to Westgate - we kept them home with us today. One of my big fears would be getting separated from the children, and I'm glad they're here now.

Despite everything, they seem ok with it all.. they have some idea that something's happening. Until today they still thought it was a robbery (Ruby may still).  But, then it dawned on me that Matthew will be back at school and talking to all kinds of kids and counselors will be doing interventions, etc, I wanted him to know it's a bigger deal than that. He said he doesn't understand why the robbers are still inside because he thought robbers just want money. I spared him the details, but let him know it wasn't just a robbery, many people were hurt (including that 4th grader), some died, and the Kenyan army, the U.S. and Israel are all here to help - that's what those helicopters are about.  He seemed happy enough with that, and has been busily playing all day with Ruby.  No more information needed, I think - unless he asks me questions.  We'll see how the week goes.

In some ways having lived through 9-1-1 does help. But, I never went to the WTC. This feels much closer to home - we could've been there - 50/50 chance. And, there weren't hostages and an ongoing tense situation after the initial attacks in New York. All of Kenya feels it, I know. It's a horribly, horribly sad time. We just want it to end now. Continuing prayers go out for the people still trapped inside.


  1. I just learned about this. So glad to hear your family is all OK!! Paul

  2. Rhonda and Michael - I just stumbled upon your family blog and am rapt with it. My husband and I, currently in Seattle, are in the midst of considering a family move to Kenya. I would incredibly value your perspective and advice on a few things, if you're willing to email? Thanks so much - Anne,