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Terror attack re-ignites patriotism and unity among Kenyans

By Christine Lagat, Xinhua

The heavy donpour failed to vanquish the gallant spirit of Kenya's Brenda Kungu as she patiently waited for her turn to donate blood at a makeshift emergency center in Nairobi.

 Volunteers from Kenya Red Cross and dozens of security officers were on standby to manage the long queue of well wishers who turned up to donate blood and help save the lives of compatriots injured during the terrorist attack at Westgate Shopping Mall.

Kungu was at the makeshift blood donation center at dawn on that day but had to dash home to attend to pressing family matters only to return in the evening and find a multitude lining up to donate blood.

"Kenyans have earned the distinction of being able to discard walls that divide us and unite in tragedy. When you look at all these people in the queue, can you tell their ethnicity or religious beliefs?" Kungu said during an interview with Xinhua.

The female volunteer with a gender advocacy organization had mobilized dozens of friends to join patriotic Kenyans on a mission to save lives of terror victims, just days after the attack on September 21, 2013.

Kungu was all smiles as a paramedic inserted a syringe on her veins and blood oozed into a neat plastic container.

"I wish it was medically appropriate to donate blood twice, and I would be the first person to jump into the queue. We cannot afford to slouch on our coaches as fellow Kenyans suffer from senseless attacks," Kungu said after donating blood.

She was later joined by a group of friends who heartily told of their experience with paramedics as they extracted pints of blood to be delivered to emergency wards where victims of terrors were being treated.

Even as the elements become unbearable on Sunday night, the long queue of blood donors did not subside until Kenya Red Cross officials made a fervent appeal for postponement of the exercise on Monday.

The young and old from across the racial, ethnic and religious divide turned up to donate blood.

As for Ishmael Mohammed, the gory pictures of the injured pricked his conscience hence a resolve to abandon daily obligations to save lives of fellow compatriots.

"I Am not a regular blood donor but emergency situations demand that we shed off our prejudices in service of fellow man.

Anyone can be a victim of terror attacks regardless of ethnic and religious background. The life of one single Kenyan supersedes everything else," Mohammed told Xinhua as he sipped water provided by volunteers.

Corporate organizations and individual well wishers were in the frontline donating food, drinks and medicine to victims of terror attacks as well as security forces and journalists.

 

 At the rescue mission went full throttle at the Westgate Shopping Mall on Sunday evening, volunteers braved heavy rains to distribute water and snacks to a battery of local and foreign journalists.

"I live nearby and could not afford to ignore the tragedy that struck fellow Kenyans and that is why I decided to donate time and resources towards this noble cause of saving innocent lives," Kevin Osido, a Program Officer with an International NGO told Xinhua at Westgate Shopping Mall.

The Kenyan government and relief agencies made a passionate appeal for blood donation to save lives of victims of terror attacks at mall.

Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Coordination of National Government, Joseph Ole Lenku had asked Kenyans to turn up in large numbers and donate blood at designated centers in Nairobi and other towns.

Those who spoke to Xinhua revealed a renewed sense of patriotism as the east African nation grappled with the aftermath of a vicious terror attack at the up-scale Westgate Shopping Mall.

"We thank the government and Kenya Red Cross for extending blood donation exercise. At no time in the history of this country have we witnessed such an outpouring of sympathy and concern for the suffering," said Mary Wamuyu, a middle aged civil servant queuing to donate blood.

As midday approached, vehicles belonging to leading Kenyan corporate brands snaked their way into the public park to deliver food and water to blood donors.

"This spirit of brotherhood should remain intact and no matter how fringe elements are determined to divide us through acts of terror, Kenya remains a peculiar nation that is able to rise above adversity and earn its place in history," said a female Kenya Red Cross Volunteer who requested anonymity.

The same sense of patriotism was displayed when Kenyan political leaders forgot their political differences and joined an  interdenominational prayer meeting at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi, on October 1.

Raila Odinga, the leader of the opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) and his deputy Kalonzo Musyoka, joined President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto at the peace prayers, which were conducted by top religious leaders around the country.
(Additional reporting by Stephen Mburu)Kenya to evaluate counter-terrorism measures

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