Wednesday, September 28, 2011
From Erik in Dadaab
Much has been written and broadcasted of late about the famine in East Africa and the resulting flood of new arrivals to the Dadaab refugee camps. The population of the camps has swelled to nearly half a million with many of the new arrivals being children. Like so many others, I have felt heartache and pain for the people who are forced to leave their homes, their culture, and their country to find a safe haven. The living conditions are difficult in the camps and most of the luxuries of autonomous life are missing. There is, though, a strange “joy” in seeing patients in the camps. The often oppressive heat, sandy terrain, and malaria-carrying mosquitos certainly aren’t the draw. In fact, I’m usually quite ready for the trip back to Kijabe where I live a very blessed and, all things considered, very comfortable life. I enjoy, however, being able to re-connect with a mother whose baby boy is doing extremely well after surviving a difficult first few days of life and a major operation. Today I greeted a father with his two boys, both born with cleft lips, whose repair we did a few weeks ago. Dad was beaming and the boys were happy. Our languages are worlds apart, but we communicate with handshakes and smiles, both enjoying seeing the results of the boys’ smiles. I realize that the strange joy I feel stems from gratitude – the gratitude of a Somali father for the care of his sons and the gratitude that I feel as a son toward my Father for the opportunity to be a part of what He is doing to change lives and establish His Kingdom here on earth.