In pictures – Garissa attack, Kenya

On 2 April 2015, gunmen stormed a university in Garissa, Kenya, northeast of the capital of Nairobi, killing 147 people, the majority of them, students. The Kenya Red Cross Society responded immediately, deploying teams of volunteers to provide psychosocial support, tracing and first aid and medical support.

Kenya Red Cross volunteer, Emma

Emma Nguli, Welfare section volunteer

I remember meeting a young woman who was carrying a baby. The baby’s mother was among the deceased. The baby did not have clothes and seemed unwell. Through social media we asked for assistance and the response was overwhelming.

We saw many people coming out to cater for the child’s needs. It was a humbling experience. Being a volunteer has really changed my perspective on giving – everyone should be a volunteer. 


Kenya Red Cross volunteer Joseph

Joseph Karani, Warehouse Operator

I am receiving donations from well wishers to distribute to families in need. Some have been camping here since the operation started and brought nothing with them. It is sad to see them looking helpless.

I am happy when I see the many well wishers willing to give more than expected. Some even bring donations – bread, water, milk, every day. My driving force is the thought that if it was my family that was affected, wouldn’t I have liked them to receive the same help we are offering?

Kenya Basilio

Basilio Mwangi, Psychosocial support volunteer

Our team is offering psychosocial support to assist families to cope with the shock, and to allow them time to mourn. We listen to them and take them through the stages of grief. It is not easy consoling someone who has suddenly lost a child. It is heartbreaking to see mothers and fathers coming through our tents crying for their loss. They were mostly students, just like me, with their lives ahead of them. 

I choose to be part of the response because I have seen the benefits of counselling. When I meet someone later and they thank me, it feels gratifying to know that I contributed in their healing process.


Kenya Evans volunteer

Evans Aswani, Volunteer, logistics centre

The work of the Kenya Red Cross Society in being first responders motivated me to join in 2013. Their ability to work so efficiently, especially in a team, was also a factor. As part of the response to the attacks in Garissa I assist in packing up the donations from well wishers. I also support body management at the mortuary.

When I was assisting families with the process of identifying bodies, I remember seeing an old man break down after receiving his daughter’s body. It was heart breaking to watch him and I felt a gush of sadness and I could feel tears in my eyes. I had to take him to the psychosocial support area.

It is not easy to do this every day but I think of the many families and the heavy losses they have to bear. Who will help them if not us?


Kenya Anwar volunteer

Anwar Said, Tracing programme manager

I started volunteering for the Kenya Red Cross Society at a young age when I first came into contact with their first aid activities. My passion continues to grow.

When people come to enquire about their relatives, it is a tense moment. If the loved one is alive, that is good news. If they are dead, it is hard and painful to be the bearer of bad news, and sometimes you have to play the role of a counselor because people, especially in that situation, react differently. 

We established centres where people were calling to report missing persons. We also gathered information on the injured, in coordination with the teams on the ground, to find out who survived. We then liaised with the forensics team to identify bodies.

I feel it is important to know what has happened to your family member regardless of the circumstances. It is crucial to clarify the fate of a loved one to the families who make enquiries so that we can allow them room for either celebration or mourning.