After a busy week, we were looking forward to catching up on our blog this weekend. Last week we attended a colleague’s wedding and, having finally sorted through the photos, we were hoping to share some of our impressions and the joy of their celebration with our readers. After the events of this weekend, however, it has been difficult to focus on our small lives and marshall our thoughts away from the tragedy unfolding in our previous home in Kenya.
Since joining the Foreign Service, we’ve become much more emotionally connected to events throughout the world that previously were relegated to the impersonal category of “news.” The attack in Benghazi that claimed the lives of four Americans, including our Ambassador to Libya. The twenty-five-year-old colleague who died in a suicide bombing this year in Afghanistan while delivering books to a local school. We did not know these people personally, but their senseless deaths touch us in a very real way nonetheless.
Yesterday, while we shut off our electronics and enjoyed a quiet getaway to a vineyard in the Moldovan countryside, a well-organized group of gunmen attacked Westgate Mall in Nairobi. Some of our friends were at the mall that morning and were fortunate to have left an hour or so before the attack began. A few friends were not so lucky, and spent several hours trapped inside, separated from each other and not knowing whether they would make it out alive. If we had still been in Nairobi, there is a good chance we might have been there as well. Westgate is popular with expats and we certainly spent our fair share of time there.
Fortunately, all the people we know in Nairobi appear to have escaped unharmed from this tragedy, but many others did not. This morning, the Kenyan government estimated the death toll at 59, with close to two hundred people injured, but these figures are not final. More than 24 hours after the attack began, there are still an unknown number of hostages trapped inside the mall. Kenya’s law enforcement personnel have sealed off Westgate, but the terrorists are still inside, and the standoff continues.
As our thoughts go out to the families of those who were killed or injured in this attack, we wish that the ongoing siege comes to an end soon and without more needless loss of life. We also hope not to have many more black days such as these.