On the Theme of Africa

I have been reflecting on the news coming out of East Africa. Now that it is officially a famine, people are beginning to pay attention to what others have been warning about for years.

Two years ago, I had the privilege of visiting Kenya and spending time talking with many incredible people about their lives and their experiences. I was visiting my Dad and Stepmother, who volunteer with a relief organization and who were at the time overseeing a food distribution project in parts of Kenya that had been hit hard by a lack of rain for several years.

As a part of their work, we had discussions with groups of individuals in each village we went to in order to learn more about the people of that village and what their particular needs were. I will never forget one man’s response when asked how his village was faring, Some people in my village have found chemical drugs. Because you bring us food, we will not have to use them. The pain, or shame, of being unable to feed your family must be unbearable. And now it is happening on an even larger scale than even two years ago when I visited Kenya. At the time, I ranted about water use. In a post on Dad’s blog, I wrote:

Since we arrived here we have been able to take part in four food distributions in vastly different areas of the country. While each community has unique challenges and situations, they are united by a need for food relief brought on by a lack of rain. In each place, we sat down with a small group of villagers to find out how they are coping, and in each place we heard a similar story: The rains have not come. In many cases, the rains have not come for three or four years. We have heard stories of livestock (and therefore livelihood) dying for lack of rain. We have heard stories of repeated crop failure so that now there are no seeds left to plant. … We visit villagers and hears stories of drought: “If only we had a borehole/proper irrigation/a pump…” – whatever it may be that they need to get water.

I am not going to make an impassioned plea for your money for Africa. But I will say this, CIDA is currently matching donations, dollar for dollar, for the “Horn of Africa Drought”. If you are looking for a good organization to go through, I can vouch for PWRDF and our partner organizations in East Africa.

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