by Robert Fox
Sitting in a crowded tent, sheltered from the midday sun, in a camp for Somali refugees outside Dolo Ado in southern Ethiopia, I meet with women and men community leaders to learn more about their plight – their journeys, their losses, what’s working and not working at the camp.
I’m awed by their strength, their resilience and their determination to rebuild their herds, their lives and their livelihoods.
One woman tells us she walked with her children 15 days through the desert, most days surviving on little more than air. She expresses her deep thanks for the food, the water and the protection afforded by the camp. But she is unaccustomed to the food on offer and she’s not been shown how to prepare it. We promise to take this up with the UN agency handling food distribution.
I share stories of Canadians who are mobilizing to raise funds to support them through this most difficult time – in particular, the seven young Somali-Canadians who walked from Calgary to Edmonton in support of Oxfam’s East Africa Appeal. I tell them the world is watching – and taking action.
The refugees express their thanks to Canadians and other people so far away who have been so generous. They praise Oxfam for the quality of the water and sanitation services and the speed with which we are working. And they renew their wish to return home when there are rains and when there is peace – with the hope that it will be very soon.
Robert Fox is Executive Director of Oxfam Canada.
Related August 2011 blogs by Robert Fox:
- For refugees, a fresh start in Dadaab
- “When the camels start dying, you know that it’s desperate”
- Dolo Ado camps offer relief to swelling numbers of Somali refugees