Aato & refugee, walked 22 km, 90 km more to Dadaab
Fed up of watching -from the comfort of our living rooms- untold horrors unfold in the Horn of Africa, fed up of hearing plans made but not seeing much done, fed up of making excuses for ourselves -excuses like we were too young or too poor or too far away from the problem to make a difference- we, young people from Somalia, Kenya, America, Australia and the UK formed the Global Somali Response.
The purpose of the Global Somali Response is to identify the major gaps in the existing emergency responses so as to mobilize the Somali community in the diaspora to stand up and take ownership and responsibility for their people, to drive resources where they matter the most -en route to Dadaab rather than just in Dadaab itself- and to restore the dignity of the Somali people.
The road to Dadaab is paved with open graves saying ii kaalay… ii kaalay… (come to me… come to me…). There, we met people that were faced with the difficult choice of sitting and waiting for death, or getting up and walking towards it. We met families that had walked for 22 days straight and were willing to walk another 90km to Dadaab. We met mothers that had left their children on the roadsides to die alone, and fathers that had no more energy left to feel grief for their lost children. The most appalling thing was that no aid agencies were there in the routes to Dadaab to help these people.
We are putting together a series of appeal clips and documentaries to raise money and awareness on the plight of the refugees. We are also raising funds to fill Survival Backpacks with essential supplies; water, glucose, slippers, blankets and some dry food. These survival backpacks shall be distributed to refugees in transit from Somalia to Kenya. This is because most deaths occur during transit, not at the destination. Only six out of ten refugees make it to Dadaab refugee camp. The Survival Packs are meant to alleviate the suffering and decrease the number of deaths.
The Global Somali Response holds the values of initiative, quick response, and genuine care and concern. Our efforts are starting to bear fruits. All over the world, young people are taking the initiative. They are stepping in to save lives. Somalis are choosing to be responsible for their own people. Young people are offering their time, money and skills to the initiative. What is unique about us is that, thanks to volunteers, the raised funds go directly to the victims unlike some other agencies that have high administration costs. It is no wonder that the international media is taking notice.
People are listening and taking action. We identified Dhobley in Somalia as one of the gaps in the emergency response, and already, the international media as well as relief organizations are beginning to focus their attention on this area. We shall continue to identify other gaps in the emergency response and find ways of filling them. Please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how YOU can help. Join our Facebook page Global Somali Emergency Response for more updates or follow us on twitter @dadaab_response.