For mother Joyce Wanjiru, 39, her life continues to be covered by a black spot since she lost her husband, John Murimi through an Al-Shabaab attack on January 2, 2022.
Murimi was among the six people who were slaughtered and others burnt inside their houses at Widho commercial area in Lamu County when Al-Shabaab terrorists attacked them at night.
Joyce who is from Salama village, says her husband was developing his business in Widho when he met his death.
The terrorists slaughtered Murimi and burnt him inside his commercial house.
On August 21, 2023, the terrorists came back again and attacked Murimi’s home in the village of Salama and burned it down, where the valuables were damaged and left the widow devastated.
‘It was on that day that Al-Shabaab terrorists also burnt eight houses and the Redeemed Gospel Church in the village of Salama, Lamu West before proceeding to the Simba Gate area, on the Lamu-Witu-Garsen highway, where they killed two people, including the truck driver and his assistant the following morning.
In an interview with NMG journalists on Sunday at her house in Salama village Ms Wanjiru explained how her life suddenly changed and turned her into a beggar.
The mother of five children has nowhere to live.
In addition, her and her children’s clothes were all burned in their house and the chickens and goats she was looking after stolen by the terrorists.
Joyce Wanjiru asks the government and philanthropists to help her as life continues to be difficult for her.
“I am a mother of five children. My Husband was killed by Al-Shabaab in January, 2022. Since then I have been relying on help from neighbors and the church. Due to the help that I have been receiving, I was able to raise myself again, albeit partially. Terrorists returned here on the night of August 21 and burned everything, including the family’s house. At the moment I have no where to go. I am asking for help,” said Joyce Wanjiru.
The widow’s son is in form 4, hoping to sit for his national examination (KCSE) this year.
The second is in the sixth grade, the third is in the 5th grade, the fourth is in kindergarten while the other is not yet of school age.
“All these children you see are going through a lot of problems. All the clothes were burnt by terrorists. Our property was stolen, the house and everything in it was burned. I’m struggling to find for money. I have no job and I am a widow. Philanthropists should come forward to help me,” said Ms Wanjiru.
Some of the residents who spoke to journalists on Sunday in the villages affected by terrorist attacks this year in Lamu county urged the government to increase security patrols in their areas so they can return to their villages to carry out agricultural and other development activities.
Since June 2023, more than 200 families have been sleeping at Juhudi primary school refugee camp at night and returning to their homes during the day.
Ruth Njeri Muhia, a mother of six, said that since her neighbour, Lucas Mwang’ombe, was burnt in his house in Salama Block 17 on July 12 this year, she has not dared to sleep in her house for fear of being next.
“We can no longer stay in our homes to take care of these fields. As you can see, they are full of weeds while the crops are being damaged due to lack of care. Every night when you come in I sleep in the bush. I am afraid of being targeted and killed by being burned in my house just like what happened to my neighbor Lucas Mwang’ombe. The government should look into this issue,” said Muhia.
Shadrack Njuguna, who is the secretary of the committee that oversees the interests of the Juhudi primary school refugee camp, said he is happy to see that peace has returned to the villages so that normal life can return.
The villages that have always witnessed the invasion of Al-Shabaab and left dozens of houses burnt down and people killed in Juhudi, Salama, Widho, Marafa, Mashogoni and its surroundings.
Mr Njuguna said a unique solution that will help restore the confidence of residents to return to the villages to continue their normal activities is for security officers sent in the affected areas.
“We thank the government for increasing patrols of security guards in these areas. The additional thing we need is to see army (KDF) and police camps built in our villages. If we find camps in areas such as Salama, Juhudi and Marafa, I believe that the routes used by these terrorists to reach our villages to carry out attacks will be blocked, so residents can live comfortably,” said Njuguna.
During his visit to Lamu county to assess the security situation in the area last month, Minister of Defense Aden Duale promised to cooperate with his Internal Security colleague Kithure Kindiki and ensure that a camp for security guards is built in areas affected by Al-Shabaab Lamu attacks.
However, the action has not yet been taken and residents are urging the government to fulfill the promise.
On his part, Lamu County Commissioner, Louis Rono maintained that security is well controlled throughout Lamu and urged residents, visitors, tourists and investors to visit the areas.
“Here in Lamu is pure peace. We have made every effort to ensure that security is enhanced. I am even ask investors to come and invest in industries and other projects here knowing that the government is protecting them,” said Mr Rono.