Oorlog om voedsel? Goed Nieuws met Kerst!

Kerst 2013: in november 2013 is de situatie aan de grens tussen Ethiopië en Kenia explosief. De Dassanech trekken steeds verder Kenia in om zoek naar voedsel voor mens en dier. De spanning tussen de Turkana en de Dassanech neemt met de dag toe. De Keniaanse regering voelt zich niet verantwoordelijk en de Ethiopische regering heeft geen interesse in het uiterste zuiden van haar land. Onze contactpersoon roept om hulp voor voedsel in de hoop dat dit de gemoederen kan temperen. Kune Zuva geeft fondsen.

Eerste kerstdag - krijgen we het volgende rapport van onze contactpersoon:

Last Saturday was hotter than usual. The desert wind was picking off the dust as it covered our faces as we were finishing the food distribution to the hunger stricken village of Sies, which straddles between the Kenya and Ethiopian border. Then as if on a cue, the wind settled and from afar in intense clarity we spotted three young shepherds carrying lambs with care and love!

It was a sight to behold. Perhaps, it was the irony of watching these innocent young boys with all smiles in their faces hugging the lambs at a time when drought has left many devastated.

This, indeed, was the sign of hope we were waiting for.

The Dassanech in the village of Sies had gone through 3 months of despair and resignation because of their grazing fields were flooded by the Omo river that broke it banks due the intense rains about 500 kms way.

Since the flooding began, about 10,000 people were facing starvation when their animals, their main source of food, started dying. They rely on the Omo River for their livelihood through retreat irrigation and for grazing their animals, the flooding of this areas had forced them to move their animals to the Turkana side where while armed, they posed a threat to the security of the area. Actually twice the Turkana had raided their herds and made a way with a huge number of the animals. The Turkana had seen the Dassanech as encroaching into their land and depleting their reserve grazing fields. We feared retaliation and continuous ravage attacks occasioned by such circumstances. But the Dassanech felts vulnerable; in fact they told us that they were too weak to retaliate! Even though this was a good sign, their weakness was caused by the famine and the loss of animals. Each day, we saw more than 40 dead animals and this was taking also a toll in their lives. The children and the most vulnerable members were very weak and sickly. Following an appeal that we made, we managed to get two lorries of hay and two lorries of maize and beans to keep this community going for 3 months. This would enable them get through this sorry state of despair.

According to the elders, this year's famine was the worse they had experienced. Indeed in all the 8 years we had worked with the Dassanech, we had not seen them so venerable, so weak and such huge loss of livestock. Even with the food aid, we still saw animals dying though not in large numbers, but nonetheless it was disheartening. More people still needed more food and their requests were unending!

When we spotted these young shepherds, Ayaral and his friends, with the lambs, it was a sign of hope as new lives were finding home amid this blink future.

Ayalal and his friends brought with them the joy of Christmas. They too were announcing that the worse is over and new spring and birth is here. If the animals can give forth life, it means strength is coming back to the community and they can steady their trembling knees, wipe off their tears and say to the faint hearted, "Courage! Do not be afraid" as their liberation is close at hand. Soon the hungry will be filled, the animals will have their young one and be milked and the people will sing and dance again, since it will be Christmas for them.

We would like to wish you God's blessings during this festive season, that this season might stir in us the zeal and love to bring peace to those around us. May our hearts inflame with compassion in making the world a better place.

May you have a Blessed Christmas and may the New Year be filled with less people who hunger for food.

Steven Ochieng

 

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