East Africa Drought
Through encounters like this one with Aysha, I have seen firsthand that all mothers have the same dreams for their children. We want them to be safe, happy and successful, and that hope doesn't change even if your circumstances are difficult. If anything, it may even become more important.
Given the fragile nature of our planet's environment, there are lots of things to think about this Earth Day But this year, I'm thinking about how climate change -- and the droughts that are becoming more frequent and more severe as a result -- is affecting some of the most vulnerable communities in the world.
Here in Canada, most of us don't really think about water. Easy access to clean drinking water is part of our daily expectations. But in many parts of Kenya, where I recently visited to see some of Plan International Canada's programs, it's impossible not to think about water -- or rather, the severe lack of it.
"Famine" is a word that's rarely and cautiously used by the international aid community. It's reserved for describing the very gravest of human suffering. For the U.N. to declare "famine," a great many people must be dying of starvation. Hunger, even lots of it, isn't enough for an official declaration.
When Craig visited Dadaab, Kenya, four years ago and met Ali, he witnessed hundreds of families lined along the road to the world's largest refugee camp. Most weren't fleeing violence, they were fleeing the weather. As climate change advances, disasters like the drought that ravaged East Africa in 2011 are becoming more frequent and severe.
Beyond the urgency of filling empty stomachs is the legacy of torture and trauma that so many of these refugees have endured. The soul can become just as empty.