Samuel remembers attending school in Chemolingot when Turkana warriors began firing on the village from the surrounding hills. Their goal was to drive the Pokots from the region so they could have the grazing lands. Everyone ran. Samuel’s mother hid the children in the cave. Many were killed, including Samuel’s father.
Since his mother was Turkana, the family spent some of their time in Kapedo, a Turkana stronghold. There Samuel attended school, but it was difficult because his mother was by herself. Eventually the family had to leave because of more fighting and went to the community near the equator. Samuel was able to get some sponsorship. Nothing came easy. He returned to Chemolingot and completed secondary school. In 1996, he met our team from the U.S. and acted as our translator. He worked primarily with Larry Swisher, the dentist who accompanied our team. He tells me now that he was so impressed by our team that he determined that he would pursue a medical career.
I asked him how the death of his father affected him. He told me this event affected him a lot. School was a struggle. Loss of a male role model. Loss of income for the family. Often going without. I asked if he was angry. He said he realized that this would only bring more violence. For this reason he chose a different path. He met Steven, a Turkana, in nursing school. The two became friends and supported one another while getting their nursing certificate. They often talked about the violence plaguing their homes. They decided that perhaps they could be the ones to change things. Our project, in part, aims to support them in pursuing their dreams, so that peace can be achieved. Samuel is a bit of a dreamer. He believes we can pull this off. As I look at his smiling face against the darkening sky, so do I.