Kenyan robbery victim will continue to fundraise for Africa

Bridgeen Harkin, who was subjected to a terrifying robbery in Nairobi, Kenya.
Bridgeen Harkin, who was subjected to a terrifying robbery in Nairobi, Kenya.

An Inishowen woman subjected to a terrifying robbery in Kenya has said she will continue to fundraise for the people who live there.

Bridgeen Harkin and her sister Sonya had been on a mission to the country with the charity, Africa Direct, when a gang burst into a meeting they were attending and demanded they hand over their belongings.

The sisters had been in Kenya for just a few days and were left “shocked and frightened” by the experience.

Speaking to the ‘Journal,’ Bridgeen, said that of all the possessions taken, she was left most upset by the theft of her grandmother’s ring, which was torn from her hand.

The charity mission to Nairobi was Sonia’s first, but Bridgeen’s sixth and she said she had never before felt “frightened or threatened.”

She said: “I always felt welcome. There is terrible poverty there and I’ve visited the slum areas, but I’ve never felt frightened. On the day it happened, we were in a meeting with people from the project we were working on - a special needs unit for children. We had money fundraised and were talking about how best to spend it. There was this ‘kerfuffle.’ Next thing, four men were in on top of us, shouting. They must have said: “Lie down” because the other people in the room lay on their stomach. But Sonya ran over to me. The men pulled at my bag and broke the strap. A second guy felt my pockets and demanded my phone - at that stage he spoke English. When I told him I didn’t have one, he demanded I show him my hands and pulled my granny’s ring from my fingers. I asked him not to take it. That was the most upsetting thing to lose. They then went and pulled Sonya’s bag from her, which had our passports in it. It was all over in a couple of minutes, but it felt like an hour.”

Along with their passports, the robbers also took 980 euro from the sisters, as well as paperwork, laptops and handbags from the office. They then “just walked out the gate.”

Bridgeen said the police arrived “very quickly” and were working off the assumption the gang received a ‘tip off.’

Bridgeen and Sonya’s passports were found around the corner from the building, discarded by a river, which allowed them to travel home. She said the charity were “very good” and organised flights. Bridgeen said “at this stage” she would never go back to Nairobi, but would continue to fundraise.

“I’ve seen the good work of the charity. It’s a very poor area and sometimes people are pushed to extremes. But, the people are lovely and we were unlucky. I would hope people would still support the charity and I’ll continue to do so.”