April 2 will remain a life of agony for most families of students who died in the Garissa University College terror attack in northern Kenya a year ago.
As the East African nation marks the first anniversary since the attack, many of the families feel neglected and forgotten, with lives for most having turned for the worst.
Samuel Ochiel, who leads a team of parents who lost their children in the attack in Siaya County, Western Kenya, told Xinhua Friday he felt abandoned, despite the government promising to compensate them.
Ochiel lost his last-born daughter Anitter Miller Ochiel when the Al-Shabaab gunmen stormed the college. Although he was devastated, he hoped for the better after President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a speech that the government would compensate them.
“I had used plenty of my resources paying for her fees and that of her brothers and thought we would be consoled by the government after the attack. I have loans to pay and I sold my land to educate her, but all my hopes were extinguished by terrorists,” said the father.
Speaking on behalf of other parents, Ochiel asked the government to immediately release the report on the massacre of the 148 persons, and among them, 143 of them are students.
“As parents, we want to know what exactly happened to our students for closure. If someone slept on the job, then he should be punished. There is a lot of anxiety among parents because we are marking the first anniversary yet we are still in the dark,” he said.
He noted that most families cannot move on until the government unravels the details behind the attack.
Some victims of the attack have been seeking a court order to compel the government to compensate them.
It is claimed that students who survived were the ones prioritized, with the government transferring them to other universities, leaving parents of the deceased students wondering of their fate.
In Nyeri, central Kenya, the family of Charles Kaguru, who perished in the attack are still mourning their son and have not come to terms with what happened.
His grandmother Milcah Wangechi said she keeps on wondering why the bereaved families were abandoned.
As many other families of victims, they received about 990 U.S. dollars only from the government for burial arrangements.
Francis Wawire, who lost his cousin in the terror attack, said that while they gave the deceased a warm send-off, they have not hard closure.
The night guard based in Kisumu, Western Kenya lost his 21-year-old cousin Selpha Wanda who was a third year Bachelor of Education Arts student.
“The death of my cousin dashed the hope of her family to have a better life. Her parents still mourn to date, they have not fully moved on,” he said.
While Kenya is expected to have learned lessons from the Garissa attack and boosted security in universities, the colleges still face a myriad of challenges and terrorism threat remains real.
Last week, over 30 students were injured at Kenyatta University in Nairobi following a threat of terror attack. Similar incidences have happened in other universities since the Garissa attack.
Several events have been organised to mark the first anniversary of the terror attack in Nairobi and in Garissa at the college, where Kenyans of all walks of life are set to converge tomorrow for the memorial. Enditem