On August 8, 2017, Kenya held a Presidential election between incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition candidate Raila Odinga. While President Kenyatta was initially declared the winner, the Kenyan Supreme Court reviewed the voting procedures and made a historic decision to annul the election results. The Supreme Court ordered a fresh election to be held in October. However, the opposition candidate Raila Odinga did not participate due to concerns about oversight of the voting, and President Uhuru Kenyatta was re-elected. This extended cycle of partisan politicking left many Kenyans feeling divided and uncertain of the next steps for their young nation.
The economic and social unrest of this election period affected all Kenyans, including the students and staff at Korando. Closure of the food markets during this time prevented Mama Dolfine from selling 1,300 watermelons grown at the farm for profit. While markets were closed, many families in Kisumu were unable to purchase food, and REP provided emergency food packages to vulnerable students who do not live at the Center during that period. Additionally, Kenyan students sat for their national exams the week of the second election in October, and the stresses of the election and food crisis contributed to lower than average scores from students nationally.
On March 9, 2018 following months of political discord, President Kenyatta and Raila Odinga appeared together before all of Kenya to publicly bury the hatchet of the election cycle. They jointly unveiled a platform for dialogue and reform in Kenya, recognizing that social, cultural and political changes are needed. They have asked the Kenyan people to participate with them in the rebuilding of the nation. Both leaders emphasized the need to improve Kenya for the sake of its deserving children. Shortly before this reconciliation, the students at Korando were asked what their dreams were for Kenya. The students responded with optimism, expressing their dreams for “a united Kenya” and “a better Kenya.” It is our hope, at the time of this writing, that this journey has begun in earnest. For their part, the students are more committed than ever before to bring their country to the next level of success and prosperity. They are working hard daily to become the doctors, lawyers, politicians and educators that will transform Kenya, one arena at a time.