"I am strong," says Jemina Anyanga, Chairlady of St. John's Escape Community Group in Kibera (JECK)). Jemina single-handedly saved the JECK community school from being torched and looted by a group of 20+ men, armed with pangas, machetes, and knives, during Kenya's post-election pandemonium. An enraged mob targeted the school, believing Kikuyus were among the members of the women's group running the school.
The school watchman alerted Jemina of the imminent threat. She rushed to the school, shouting and pleading for the men to stop. She tried to explain that this was a place for old mamas, their children, and orphans to learn and help each other. Ultimately, Jemina had to prove her ‘loyalty' by speaking in the Lubya tribal language, an act that saved the school. However, the mob threatened that if they found a Kikuyu in the JECK group, they would return to burn the property.
Jemina, with her four children age 13, 9, 6, and 2 years old, moved to the school to help the watchman stand guard. Two days later, while protecting the community school, her own house was looted and burned to the ground. Like other women in JECK, her small-scale business goods and her home were destroyed during the uncontrolled post-election violence. Despite her life-threatening experience and loss of livelihood, Jemina says, "I will continue; I pray to God to improve [our situation] and uplift us to forget."
JECK continues to preach peace and will not turn any woman away who wants to work together to improve her life. All 28 women and their families are accounted for, standing tall as pillars of strength and determination.