This usually peaceful nation erupted into violence last December, leaving over 850 people dead and thousands injured, and driving more than 255,000 from their homes.
The Catholic Church and Caritas members were the first to provide help in many areas, and have begun reporting back on the personal accounts of Kenyans affected by the unrest.
These victims include Linet Atieno Awinda, who was forced from her home in Mathare, Nairobi, and onto a street outside the local police station in neighbouring Huruma.
“I was in the house when I heard people outside. They told us to get out, that they were going to burn the house down. So we left, taking all the children,” explained Linet.
The place she was now calling home was shared with 44 other families of mostly women and children, and was no bigger than a tennis court.
It more resembled a junkyard than a home, with families attempting to sleep, eat and cook while cramped together and surrounded by wrecked cars. When it rained in the night, they climbed into the husks of the vehicles for shelter.
Linet said: “To the political leaders, I am just praying that they make peace, because it is us who are with our children out in the cold, because it is us who are the sufferers on the ground. But if they can agree to talk, we could have peace.”
Christine Ochieng, who has three children, told her story as she sat in open field in Huruma, Nairobi, among her life possessions - a mattress and some donated clothes.
“My house was burnt, it was evening time, just dark, I went out to buy rice for my children, but when I came back there was lots of noise and our house was on fire. I ran into the house to look for my children, and the people who had set the house on fire closed the door on me. I suffered burns on my legs, on my body, all up my right side. I didn’t call for help because I was confused. But I got out with the children.
“As I came out, I was in pain, but I saw another lady who is lame, and whose child is also sick, and I helped her carry her child, but I was beaten again by the thugs. My eldest child only, he understood what was happening and felt the pain, but the younger two didn’t know how bad it was.
“When I came here, I slept in the cold, I didn’t know the people here until the next day. One mother had three mattresses, and she shared this one with me. I can see some of the people here, some are sick, some have a hurt heart, and some are still grieved.”
The Caritas Confederation of 162 Catholic aid agencies is appealing for US$2.7 million (€1.8 million) to help victims of the violence in Rift Valley, Nyanza and Western provinces.
Aid earmarked includes helping people access food and clean water, and providing temporary shelter and items such as sleeping mats, blankets and clothing. The programme also includes counselling to adults and children and helping mediation between communities.
Those agencies who have already provided assistance include Caritas United States (CRS), Caritas England & Wales (CAFOD), Caritas Ireland (Trocaire) and Caritas Scotland (SCIAF), who have provided support including food, blankets, mosquito nets, cooking utensils, plastic sheeting, trauma counselling and transport to people in the dioceses of Bungoma, Eldoret, Kericho, Kisii, Mombasa, Nairobi, Nakuru and Ngong.
An appeal through the Kenya Episcopal Conference saw donations of items such as food, clothing and blankets in dioceses unaffected by the violence. However, the Conference warned this week that ongoing instability was affecting the delivery of aid in some instances.
Agency staff have also fallen victim to the fighting.
Kinyanjui Kaniaru is an engineer who has worked for CRS for more than 13 years. When violence broke out in Eldoret town in the Rift Valley on December 29, it tragically claimed the life of Kinyanjui’s nephew, 24-year-old Tiras Githinji.
Another CRS worker George Ambayo, who is from Kenya’s western Nyanza province, feared for his wife after hearing of rioting in his neighbourhood and learning his house had been set alight.
Thankfully he had earlier warned her to flee, while he and his two sons were already back in Nyanza for Christmas.
Tension across Kenya had been building in the months leading up to the election, and the perceived injustice of the elections brought to the surface long-running hostilities between tribes.
Father Daniele Moschetti, parish priest for Korogocho, Nairobi, saw at first hand the desperation of those trying to save their homes.
“At the worst time, groups were in the street, attacking people, holding pangas, stones and other weapons. People were fearing their properties would be burnt, and they were defending themselves.
“The problem is that the people who are dying and are affected worst by this situation are the poorest; losing their property, losing what little they had.”
Another parish priest and local CAFOD partner, Father Paulino Mondo, in Kariobangi, Nairobi, explains however how common suffering and need can help unite these different factions.
“Providing food is very important. When people are hungry, they can’t be peaceful. By feeding them, we also show that someone cares. Both tribes come together to queue for food, they see each other’s needs, they see how little each other have, that they are both in the same boat, and it helps very much with the reconciliation.”
Directors and staff from Caritas members, who have witnessed the destruction of war across the globe, this week urged the government and people of Kenya to support dialogue and cease all violence. A joint statement was signed by, among others, the Chief Executives of Caritas in Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lebanon and Cambodia.
Previously the President of Caritas Internationalis Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez and the President of Caritas Africa Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga said all sides must work to halt the violence.
The appeal came after fresh killings including a Catholic priest in the Rift Valley. Fr Michael Kamau Ithondeka, 41, was killed on 24 January at an illegal roadblock set up by armed youth on the Nakuru - Eldama Ravine Road. He was vice rector at St Mathias Mulumba Senior Seminary in Tindinyo.
These accounts are courtesy of original articles and interviews by Caritas England and Wales (CAFOD) Communications Officer Bridget Burrows and Caritas United States (CRS) Regional Information Officer in East Africa Debbie DeVoe.
For more information, please contact Caritas Internationalis Head of Communications Patrick Nicholson on 0039 06 698 79725 or 0039 334 3590700 or firstname.lastname@example.org