World Vision Australia CEO, Rev Tim Costello, reflects on his recent visit to Dadaab, the massive refugee camp in eastern Kenya.
"Row after row of Somali refugee tents – it just seems endless. Here at Dadaab, the massive refugee camp in eastern Kenya, close to the Somalia border, is one of the most heart-wrenching humanitarian crises I have ever witnessed.
I met a woman who had just four children left from the 10 she had borne, having lost six of her children to drought and disease. Her husband is blind. Her daughter attended the cooking pots of porridge and beans, unable to attend school. It is for women like this and their families that World Vision is called to care.
I was present for the first distribution of 5,000 emergency kits for families recently arrived from Somalia. Most arrived with virtually no possessions, many having lost loved ones even as they fled their homeland.
The Dadaab refugee camp was built in the 1990s with a capacity of 90,000 people. Today, more than 400,000 refugees are crammed in there, and more than 1,000 new arrivals pour in each day.
It's overwhelming and you feel paralysed in the face of suffering on such a large scale, but I always say that the fact that I can't help everybody is not going to stop me helping someone. This is where the call of the Gospel to bring water for the thirsty, to feed the hungry and clothe the naked can be truly embodied. The text in Matthew (Matt 25:35)
foretells a scene of judgment. It is as if followers of Jesus are being given the exam questions ahead of time: What is required? Providing water, food, shelter and clothing for "the least of these" – our global brothers and sisters.
North of the Dadaab camp in Wajir province are many smaller communities of ethnic Somali Kenyans for whom World Vision's work is a lifeline. Water being trucked to villages is often the difference between staying in their own communities and having to join others taking a long, dangerous and uncertain road in search of survival."
- Tim Costello, CEO World Vision Australia
This is the worst drought in the region in 60 years. World Vision plans to assist more than 2.5 million people this year in the worst affected countries of East Africa, including Somalia, Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia. If you can, please donate to our East Africa Emergency Appeal
If you would be interesting in taking up an offering for the East Africa Emergency Appeal
in your church service, please either contact your local church relationship manager
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
This article first appeared in the Sept 2011 edition of Pulse: World Vision's Christian e-Newsletter.