We still need you to stretch out your hands


October 27, 2011

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    Bija Gutoff/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Ibrahim Sirat, field supervisor for Mercy Corps' drought response program in Wajir, NE Kenya. Photo: Bija Gutoff/Mercy Corps

Yesterday I wrote to our supporters about my recent trip to Kenya and Ethiopia, where people are suffering the terrible effects of the worst drought in 60 years. Soon after the email went out, I got this message from Ibrahim Sirat, field manager of Mercy Corps' drought response in the Wajir area of NE Kenya. Ibrahim and I worked together during my visit. His message reminds me that a crisis like this is never simple. Rain alone does not solve all the problems; in fact, it creates new ones.

Hi Bija,

Well it's great to hear from you! I personally thank you for your visit and for your witnessing of what Mercy Corps is doing in Wajir. Now it has rained and the sentiments of the communities have changed. They all say "Thanks God, bless you Mercy Corps! You brought us up to the rains! Now we still need you to stretch out your hands until we restart our life!"

Despite the rains, as you witnessed during your visit, the effects of the drought continue. There's no doubt it will take a while to return to normal. Right now the problem is not a lack of water, but other necessities of life -- including shelter. People who "dropped out" of the pastoral life [because their animals died] are living in temporary makeshift huts that offer very little protection against the rain. Children and the elderly are most affected by the heavy rains. All the water storage ponds are full now -- but remember, all the animal carcasses around the dams were washed into the pans. So the water is not clean and we fear the spread of disease.

Thanks, and best regards
Ibrahim Sirat, Field Supervisor, Mercy Corps Wajir