From the Field - Kenya
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live and work "in the field" for WFP?
Join Rose as she takes you on a journey from her home base in Nairobi to Dadaab, one of the largest refugee camps in the world, to help cover the unfolding crisis in the Horn of Africa.
Rose joined WFP in 2009 and is currently working as a public information officer in Kenya.
When I left Nairobi for Dadaab to cover WFP’s response to the huge Somali influx, I didn’t know what to expect. Of course I knew that I was going to meet with people who are suffering the effects of drought, but honestly I was not prepared for the amount of suffering that I came face to face with.
The first day I went to the Dagahaley reception centre in Dadaab, the first sight I met was of hundreds of people waiting outside the gates for their turn to go through the recognition process which enables them to access the various services including food assistance.
Just looking at these people, it was evident that they had endured a lot. They looked tired, haggard and desperate. With many of these being children, one would expect them to be playing as children do irrespective of the situation; but not these children, instead they sat quietly and others slept on the dusty ground.
Then came the horror stories. Stories of how people, mostly children died on the way, succumbing to starvation, because they did not have food or water as they trekked, in some cases, up to 30 days from Somalia to Kenya.
That first day was very emotional for me, maybe because as a mother, I put myself in the shoes of those mothers who had to bury their children on the way or who watched helplessly as their children cried from hunger.
I actually had to shake and remind myself that I needed to take pictures and write stories that would tell the world what these people were going through and that they needed assistance. I then donned my hard shell and went to work.
One of the things that gratified me most was the look on the faces of the refugees once they received their 21 day ration of food. I remember one woman, Saruuro Mohamud, who I met early in the morning carrying her seven year old physically disabled daughter as together with the rest of her family, as they trekked to the reception centre, having walked for 25 days from Somalia with very little food or water. Later that day, I found her and her family of nine sitting next to bags of food they had received and she was tickling her children who were laughing helplessly. That sight made me thank God that I worked for the World Food Programme, which can change the look of despair, to one of hope.
Written by Rose Ogola, WFP Public Information Officer in Kenya