If working to feed children and families on the brink of death from East Africa’s famine were not challenging enough, SOS Children’s Villages staff in Somalia have also faced daily dangers from violence that has plagued that nation for years.
“There would have been countless reasons for SOS Children’s Villages to pull out of Somalia in the past,” writes Kenya-based SOS social worker Priscah Wachera in a recent blog. Repeated outbursts of civil war have made life in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, “a risky affair,” she observes.
Wachera, who works in the city of Mombasa to help boys and girls remain with their biological families, recently blogged about the great respect she has for her SOS colleagues in nearby Somalia.
The children and mothers of SOS-Mogadishu have been evacuated on more than one occasion because of the danger of nearby clashes. The SOS school and clinic have often been forced to shut down, and foreigners have been targets of violence. Over the years several SOS staff members have been hurt or killed. In September 2006, Sister Leonella Sgorbati, principal of the SOS Nurses Training School, was shot by gunmen.
On the Ground for Nearly Three Decades Despite Local Strife
SOS workers have continued their efforts to keep the children under their care safe for 26 years. “This is not reckless behavior,” writes Wachera. “It is simply the conviction that, once you have committed to giving long-term help and offering people hope for the future, you honor that commitment.”
At a time when, according to the United Nations, more than 12 million people may die from drought in Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia, Wachera feels it’s important to honor the dedication of her co-workers in Somalia.
SOS’s longtime presence in the areas of East Africa severely affected by the current famine has positioned the organization to help families who have fled their homes seeking food and water.
“The drought areas of Somalia, Ethiopia and northern Kenya are far from Mombasa, the city where I live,” notes Wachera. “Yet I feel a connection to the people there and with my colleagues who are helping them under very tough conditions and at no small risk to themselves.”
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