Please take time to read a journal entry from CHRF team member and Board Member Monte Wilson. For years Monte has exemplified what it means to be an “active Board Member” by going into extremely dangerous war zones in order to help those who need it most!
You have been reading the news regarding Somalia: the fighting, the fleeing, the starving, and the dying. My friend, Derek, CHRF Relief Director, and I flew down from Addis Ababa to the border of Ethiopia and Somalia (Kenyan border is around 5 miles away), where so many terrified and emaciated Somalis were pouring into camps that were not ready for 2,000 people a day.
We are here representing Children’s Hunger Relief Fund.
The plan is to find a pilot who is cool with landing in the desert, find our way to the refugees, assess the needs, and make contact with anyone who can help us with logistics involved in delivering aid and relief.
I say, “plan,” but when you don’t know anyone, have no idea what you are walking in to, and are fairly dead in the water if you can’t find a translator – “plan” is far too concrete a description.
It’s hot. Seeing clouds of dust off in the distance, we head off in the direction of the people, donkeys and cars that must be causing the sand to fly. First question is, “Where do we start?” We need to find someone—anyone—who can help us or at least point us in the right direction. Upon seeing a partially erected cell tower, we figured that might be a safe area to begin looking.
Sure enough, it was in the middle of UN camp. We bang on the metal door. We are given entre, but that’s it. We see some offices and go door-to-door but nada, zip, kibosh. Finally, someone tells us to wait and he will send someone who will help us with assessments.
Laura, a friendly young English woman, sits down and starts to give us the lay of the land, which is pretty much, “This has all happened so quickly we are playing catch up.” Tall American gentleman walks in, “I heard an American laughing!” (He is from Seattle.) He then goes on to describe the disarray, the confusion, the fragile infrastructure, and lists the specific needs and which organizations were seeking to meet those needs.
First thing we are instructed to do is to meet the Ethiopian official in charge of overseeing the camps in this area (3 camps, one transition camp where people are checked out medically, registered, and then shuffled to larger camps. 118,000 people here, so far.)
We have had an extremely productive trip so far but need to return as soon as possible, although we are surrounded by endless suffering here we hope to alleviate some of it when we return with Twenty tons of food donated by Children’s Hunger Relief Fund and it’s donors.
Please navigate over to CHRF’s web site and make a donation to help these people.