Why nomination of new US ambassador to Kenya is seen a blessing to Tharaka Nithi residents

The new US ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter, President Donald Trump. [Photo: Courtesy]

The nomination of Kyle McCarter as the new US ambassador to Kenya is seen as a blessing by residents of Mukothima in Tharaka Nithi County.

Locals and leaders feel the move will rekindle the attachment the Senior McCarter and his son Kyle had with the Tharaka community where senior McCarter first brought his charity ‘Each One Feed One Kenya’ in the 1980s.

Kyle’s father, worked in the area between 1984-1989 where he left a mark in a health centre that was later named ‘Kwa Makata’ - a corruption of his name - which has been of great help to residents of Tharaka North.

After age took a toll on the senior McCarter, the senator took charge of the projects and expanded the charity project in Tharaka which is located in the remote village of Thanatu.

Residents narrated how the McCarters changed their lives.

John Kiongo, 68, recounted how he interacted closely with the family and at times shared a compound with them.

Mr Kiongo said he knew Kyle when he was a boy as he always accompanied his father during his trips to Kenya.

John Kingo, neighbour to the new US Ambassador to Kenya Senator Kyle McCarter at his home in Mukothima, Tharaka Nithii County. [Peter Muthomi]

The senator is admired in the area for setting up a school “Mama Linda” named after his mother. The school opened doors in 2000 and admits children from poor backgrounds.

The nominated US ambassador also started a children’s home which currently has more than 50 children.

The centre has created jobs for about 50 locals who serve as teachers and health workers. He also funds 120 women groups.

However, what makes the community to refer to the senator as their son is the construction of a bridge across Thanantu River, connecting Mukothima and Nkondi wards.

“Lives were lost when people crossed the river during the rainy season when the river burst its banks,” said Kiongo who served in the development committee formed by McCarter to identify priority projects.

Students from poor background have also benefited from the sponsorship set up by Kyle.

The senator bought land in Mukumbuthi village, where he rears livestock.

The connections he has with the community has seen him visit Mukothima at least twice a year with the recent tour being in December last year.

“He is well known, here we refer to him as senator and our people were very happy after the news of his nomination as the Kenyan Ambassador,” Kiongo added.

He said Kyle spends time with locals and retires in the evening to the family residence built by his father.

“He is loving, humble and friendly to the community, we spend time with him here when he visits the country. He also attends church here and he is not inclined to one denomination,” Kiongo added.

He hopes county leaders will take advantage of the close ties with the community to work with the senator and transform livelihoods.

Lydia Kithure,62, recounted how he reconciled his children with the senator after a dispute over land where the Kwa Makata hospital and school stand.

Ms Kithure said after the death of her husband Titus Kithure in 2006 his two sons have been attempting to file a lawsuit to evict Kyle from the two and half acres of land which were donated for the charity by the late Kithure who was the area chief.

“Kyle’s father was introduced to my husband by Methodist Bishop Njagi Mwabo. They approached my husband because he was a state officer and asked him to help them set up a centre to help the people,” she said.

Tharaka Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki said the ties between the county and America will grow stronger if Kyle’s nomination as US ambassador is approved.

“I will be one of the first person to receive Kyle when he lands in Kenya as an ambassador and l will ensure the county will benefit during his reign as ambassador,” he said.

Tharaka MP Gitonga Murugara said residents will benefit from the ambassador’s link to Mukothima and the continuity of the projects he and his father initiated.