Kenya: Rose Jeptoo, Kenya: "We do not know who to trust"

BUNGOMA , 23 April 2007 (IRIN) - Rose Jeptoo [not her real name] is a mother of five and has been a resident of Mt Elgon district, along the Kenyan-Ugandan border, for the past 10 years. However, violent clashes in the district between the Soy and Mosop sub-groups have forced her to change her way of life.

"My family lives in Chongeywo location in Mt Elgon but I work as an office assistant in another area called Kipsigon.

"Before the fighting erupted I was also a farmer. I had rented land for farming but due to the fighting I did not plant last year.

"Due to the insecurity, I have been forced to transfer my children, including the youngest, who is five years old, to an academy in Bungoma. Some schools were closed; even the teachers fled.

"My children were traumatised; they could not stand the sound of gunshots.

"But my salary cannot even meet the school fees for the academy; my needs have gone up.

"Before the clashes we used to plant seasonal crops which we would then sell after three months to the neighbouring districts. When the fighting started, we managed to harvest some few crops but most rotted in the fields.

"We did even get time to dry the maize we had harvested due to the sound of gunshots. We were forced to flee, leaving the harvest exposed to the rain or to be eaten by the livestock that were left behind.

"I am still living in Kipsigon due to my job but sleeping is a scary experience; you never know when the attacks will occur.

"Everything has changed. Even at the workplace we are no longer offering the services we used to, including photocopying, printing and typing; we mainly charge phones for police officers stationed near the office.

"I would like this fighting to end but it is difficult to give information to the police about the people causing these problems. People have information but are afraid of disclosing it; we do not know who we should trust."