Daima Initiatives for Peace and Development (DiPaD) – #WhatsYourPeace?

September 21, 2015
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From September 21-24, 2013, a luxury Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya was under siege by a group of gunmen. The siege resulted in the killing of 60 people and the wounding of 240 individuals including security forces, civilians, and gunmen.

Police constable Lazarus Kimeu was among a rescue team of plainclothes policemen and civilians who went into the mall. Unlike many police officers who were scared to enter the mall and had instead opted to take cover and watch events unfold from outside, the 34-year-old literally put his life on the front line in slowing down the terrorists. Kimeu’s gun was among the first weapons to shoot back at the terrorists. The officer dived into the heart of the battle without a bullet-proof vest or heavy weapons.

However, Kimeu is among a list of police officers whose sacrifice went largely unnoticed. Cameras mainly focused on officers operating the mall entrance, celebrating those seen to be rescuing hostages at the end of the line, and ignored the real heroes of Westgate, individuals who went deep into the mall, pursuing the gunmen. There were no media cameras there, only killing, blood, screams, and tears. Kimeu spent 7 long hours in the mall fighting back the terrorists and coordinating actions of other police and military squads.

Daima Initiatives for Peace and Development (DiPaD) initiated a program to help the people who experienced this chilling event, overcome this trauma. Lazarus Kimeu was one of the beneficiaries of the Response to Westgate, Trauma Awareness and Resilience Program. Several months after the training, we Kimeu said:  “I found the training very useful. It was the only trauma training I have heard since the attack. Though I am faced with threats every day, I learned how to deal with such experiences.”

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