From the Field: Famine in Baringo

The ground in Baringo, Kenya is all dried up and the children are suffering.

Just last year, when I visited Baringo, I had to drive through a stream to get there. I remember it vividly because they let ME drive the van – I had so much fun on my “off-roading” adventure! But when I visited a couple weeks ago there were no streams. The whole area was bone dry.

Baringo is entering their 4th year of drought, and the people are desperate for food and water. That’s why I was there this time: to deliver Emergency Food Paks to help families in need survive this famine.

As I walked towards one hut with an Emergency Food Pak gift, I noticed a little child lying in the dirt. There were flies buzzing around her, but she didn’t move at all.

For one heart wrenching second I thought that she might be dead. But then I saw her little chest rising and falling. She was breathing at least. But she really wasn’t moving. Despite all the activity around her, she didn’t respond.

A little girl lies sleeping in the dirt With no food, the kids are tired and listless

And unfortunately she wasn’t the only one. Many of the children I saw on my visit to Baringo were just as listless. Usually when I visit a village, the children crowd around the “mzungu” (meaning foreigner) with great excitement. They point and laugh at my pasty skin, and beg to have their pictures taken. But in Baringo, it has been ages since the children had enough to eat. They simply don’t have the energy to act like normal little kids.

I was shocked by how dirty and dusty everything was, especially the children themselves. Their faces were streaked with dirt. Water is too precious a commodity for non-essential tasks like basic washing. It made sense when I realized the ordeal it was to find water. One house we visited, the mother was nowhere in sight. She had been gone all day looking for water. Usually she winds up having to walk all the way to the lake – over three miles away! At that distance, she can only carry a little back.

Two children hold gifts of food from their Emergency Food Pak An Emergency Food Pak makes all the difference for hungry children

Before heading to Kenya, I’d read some of the headlines about drought and famine, so I thought I knew what to expect in Baringo. But it was still a shocking, sobering visit. As I left, my heart ached for all the families – those we helped with Emergency Food Paks and those we couldn’t. They need long term assistance to survive this drought. And they need rain soon!

If you would like to help families in Baringo, visit our Kenya Drought Relief page and make a gift today!

Written by Annette

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