Things Fall Apart, and Kitsap Residents are There

As the East African nation of Kenya teeters on the brink, another person from Kitsap County has found themselves amidst the turmoil.

It’s been two weeks since Mark Clark has heard from his daughter, Tawny, 22, who has been traveling in East Africa and arrived in the capital of Kenya about a week after a disputed election there plunged the country into violence.

The Pacific Lutheran University senior and 2004 Olympic High School graduate has been touring a few east African counties and is due back home Wednesday. She arrived in Kenya Jan. 6 or Jan. 7 and traveled to Tanzania and the island of Zanzibar as well.

Not that Clark is nervous, he knows that access to e-mail and telephones in the developing world can be rare and Tawny has experience traveling abroad.

“I think she’s fine,” Clark said. “If something would have happened to the kids the school would have notified us by now.”

Tawny wrote to her family Jan. 15 and said it was the first time she had access to the Internet. In the e-mail she mentioned that upon her arrival in Nairobi the group spent the night and flew out the next day. The group originally planned to leave the day they arrived by bus.

The international studies and French major, who may consider a career in foreign service, has overcome difficulties traveling before, and wrote similarly vague letters back home.
The message of the e-mail: “Don’t worry.”

Tawny is traveling with more than a dozen other students and two teachers, Clark said, who couldn’t argue whether his daughter should have gone or not.
“This is truly a priceless experience,” he said.

Dr. Esther “Koi” Tirima, an English professor at Olympic College, spent the lead up to the election, and the following weeks in Kenya, her home country. When the election was disputed, violence broke out. About 800 people have died and at least a quarter-million have been displaced. (Read a story about Tirima by clicking here)

Her hopes were raised when former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Anan visited the country and met with leaders of rival factions. But the murder of an opposition member of parliament Tuesday has sparked fresh violence.

“I made the mistake of looking at the news before going to bed, so I didn’t sleep,” Tirima said. “I’ve been close to tears all day.”

Before returning to the states with her two small children, Tirima had T-shirts printed with a slogan for peace and calm that had been circulating the country via anonymous text messages. The money raised will be sent to the Red Cross, which is helping refugees.

So far she has raised about $600 from the shirts.

She also noted that Tawny sounded like she could handle herself well.
“She sounds like a savvy traveler,” Tirima said.

One thought on “Things Fall Apart, and Kitsap Residents are There

  1. Tawny Clark is home safe. Apparently she landed at SeaTac International Airport last night, a day before her father thought she would arrive. He thought she would arrive Wednesday, or today.
    “Apparently yesterday was Wednesday over in Africa,” said her father, Mark Clark.

    The Pacific Lutheran University student and Olympic High school grad departed from the region within hours of a U.S. official describing the escalating violence in Kenya as “ethnic cleansing.” The story below appeared on the wire about an hour ago.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department backed away Wednesday from its top African envoy’s description of postelection violence in Kenya as “ethnic cleansing,” saying it was too early to characterize the situation in such terms.

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