Recently, Daniel Lentirangoi sent us these short videos of children working on the construction of Baragoi Friends Church, in Samburu, carrying sand from a dry river to be used in the construction of the altar. In the second video, the children gather for lunch.
In Kenya, Baragoi is a name which inspires fear when mentioned—it is a place that outsiders associate with death, aggressiveness, and unfriendliness. With a nickname like “valley of death,” it is easy to imagine that the moment you step into Baragoi you will be killed.
Baragoi is in Samburu County, at least a two- to three-hour drive high on the plains above Maralal. The majority of the residents in the region are nomadic pastoralists, with a large population from Samburu and Turkana. Other tribal groups within this region are Somali, Kikuyu, and Ameru. And Baragoi just happens to be where several of these groups intersect and overlap. As a result, cattle rustling and warring over grazing land rights are serious problems.
In the midst of all this, Baragoi Friends (Quakers) Church was established in April 2006. At the time, it started with fifteen Sunday school children. The Samburu Friends Mission sent Pastor Dorcas Murachia to Baragoi to mentor and minister. Dorcas Murachia joined Samburu Friends Mission in 2013 and started faithfully training the Samburu cohort. Most of that pioneer cohort of the church are now between the ages of eighteen to their early twenties. Currently, the Baragoi Church has ten adults, twenty-two youth and over twenty-five Sunday school children.
Over time, Samburu Friends Mission was able to acquire a one-and-a-half acre plot in Baragoi town where the church has been set up. They began by meeting outside for Sunday School, and the children carried rocks for construction each time they came. Now after all these years, the construction is almost complete. This initiative has been supported by Friends, as well as the Turkana, Samburu ,and also the Ameru communities coming together to assist in the construction.
The building is physically at a crossroads in the town and has played a big role in matters of peaceful coexistence between the communities who are caught up in cattle rustling that often ends up in numerous deaths of the residents.
Baragoi Friends Church is a peace testimony and a beacon of hope. As seeds of change have been planted, pray that someday the name of Baragoi will inspire feelings of hope and life instead of fear and death.