Sunday, 11 September 2011

The road from Nairobi to Garissa told stories of drought, lack of education & human trafficking


The 6 hour journey from Nairobi from Garissa told many stories of the poverty that is facing Kenya today.

Within an hour of leaving Nairobi we encountered ladies walking between villages with 20 litre jerry cans to provide water for their families. According to my colleague, Allan's research many are walking up to 40km each way to carry 20 litres of water. 20 litres is the total amount of water an average person in drought affected areas is using for two weeks; as someone I met yesterday commented, if people are living on this, "their hygiene goes down the toilet, literally". An offshoot of the girls going to pick up the water is that it means they often don't go to school. The drought is not only killing many, it is depriving many others of receiving a good education.

At numerous times during the journey, there were checkpoints with portable speed bumps with spikes on them across the road that are on rope operated by police; I asked our driver Paul why and the answer he gave "because of human trafficking". Human trafficking out of Somalia is widespread. To give you an idea of the problem, below I have told the story of Amina who was trafficked from Somalia to Ethiopia:

Amina is a 13 years old girl from Mogadishu. Her father makes little earnings selling vegetables and other small items on the street. Following her mother’s death, she joined her elder sister in Garowe, (Puntland) with other siblings in search of a safer environment and better education opportunities. One day as she walked to the shops, a Somali woman approached her, and enticed her into going with her. Amina does not recall what has happened next. When she woke up, she found herself contained in a room full of other children. The other children informed her that the woman had drugged her and transported her to Ethiopia for the purpose of organ removal. The following day, Amina was made to undergo several medical check-ups where she was diagnosed with hepatitis A. She was given medical treatment, which did not work. Amina was told by the Somali woman that she was ‘useless’. As a result she was transferred from Ethiopia to Burao via Hargeisa in Somaliland, where she was found by one of IOM’s Counter Trafficking Network members who referred her case to IOM. She was given immediate assistance and protection, and would be finally reunited with her family in Garowe.
As is probably obvious, the road challenged me once again about the desperate poverty that many in the world are in. It did on the other hand also gave me some fun, I saw a Somalian ostrich (pictured).

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