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East Africa Famine: Courage in Somalia

An SOS doctor and child at Badbado camp, Somalia
An SOS doctor and child at Badbado camp, Somalia

Priscah Wachera is an SOS social worker in Mombasa, Kenya, who works to help children to stay together with their biological families. In this blog entry, she talks about SOS Children’s work in neighbouring Somalia and her respect for her colleagues who have worked in difficult and dangerous situations there for 26 years, and continue to provide relief to families suffering the effects of the famine.

“There would have been countless reasons for SOS Children to pull out of Somalia in the past: the civil war escalated time and time again, making life in Mogadishu a risky affair. 

On several occasions, the children and mothers of the SOS Children’s Village in Mogadishu had to be evacuated because the situation had become too dangerous. The school and the clinic run by SOS Children also had to be closed down several times. Several SOS staff were injured or killed, like Sister Leonalla, who worked at the SOS clinic.

In spite of all this, my colleagues stayed on – for over 26 years by now! This is not reckless behaviour, it is simply the conviction that, once you have committed to give long-term help and offer people a perspective and hope for the future, you honour that commitment.

The dedication of my co-workers in Somalia must be honoured, especially in the current situation! The whole world’s attention is focused on East Africa, where a terrible drought is threatening the lives of so many people.

Thanks to SOS Children’s presence in Somalia over the decades, my colleagues are now in a position to help swiftly and effectively.  More and more people are flooding the refugee camps, and I am grateful that we have the experience and infrastructure to help these desperate people.

The drought areas of Somalia, Ethiopia and northern Kenya are far away from Mombasa, the city where I live. And yet, I feel a connection to the people there, and with my colleagues who are helping them under very tough conditions and at no small risk to themselves – their work is so important.”

SOS Children have launched an Emergency Relief Programme to help those affected by the famine in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia with food, water, medical care and vaccinations. Find out more about our work, and how you can help.