CHICAGO (CBS) — The hostage situation and standoff at an upscale mall in Nairobi has hit home for Kenyans in Chicago.
Symon Ogeto regularly organizes trips between Chicago and his home country of Kenya through his company SEED Group Travel Services.
“As somebody who’s in travel, this affects me immensely,” he said in a phone interview. “I just had a group in Kenya this August, Lawyers Without Borders.”
So, he’s been disturbed by the news of violence at the Westgate mall in Nairobi.
“Westgate is actually listed as one place where they [travelers] can go and do shopping before coming back to Chicago. It’s a place I take my family, my kids normally love going there while we’re in Kenya,” he said.
“My first immediate thoughts was to make sure that my nieces were safe because that’s where they hang out,” Ogeto added.
He says his relatives are safe, but that hopes this terrorist attack won’t deter travelers from going to Kenya.
“But I always say that if you’re going to change your travel plans because of a terrorist act, then terrorism has won.”
Ogeto was born and raised in Kenya, moving to the U.S. for almost 20 years. He’s been proud to show others his homeland.
“The biggest asset that Kenya has is its people. You get to meet and realize that you are no different from other people from other parts of the world,” he said.
But Ogeto he hopes the international community will show it won’t tolerate terrorism.
“I hope that the world sees itself in this tragedy so that we can join hands to make a difference and make the world safer,” he said.