A story I’m not proud of

When I first started at IMC, I was senior desk officer for East Africa and the Middle East. I had a solid Middle East background, but I had to do a lot of reading on East Africa. I’d been there a few weeks and was starting to realize I’d somehow become an aid worker and I loved it.

I was reading an article about a young mother in Mogadishu. She had a baby and wouldn’t leave her house during the fighting (this was the 2006 fighting, FYI). Finally she ran out of all food and had to leave the house. She took her 3-month old baby with her. She was killed in the cross-fire and NGO workers found her baby frantically trying to nuzzle at his mother’s dead breast.

My son was three months old when I read that. I was a breast-feeding mother. I sat at my desk and cried, for quite a while. And then I thought, “If I had a picture of that, I could fundraise a million dollars, easy.”

Your work saves lives. You can’t do the work without money. It’s very, very hard to keep chasing the money you need to do good, and stay good yourself.

I don’t want to be Kevin Carter.

(image credit: Fiore S. Barbato)
Chosen because I am still too human to be able to search flickr for dead children

Two aid workers kidnapped in Somalia

Two UN contract workers kidnapped in Somalia. Murray Watson and Patrick Amukhuma were kidnapped in Somalia yesterday. Patrick is Kenyan, and Murray is British. Murray Watson is an ecologist with a long history of work in Africa. I am praying for a quick release, like last time an expat was kidnapped in Somalia.

One thing I find interesting about the media coverage on this is how few outlets have gotten their jobs right. They were contractors for an Indian company which held a subcontract with FAO to do aerial survey work. Not all that unusual if you’re used to how the system works, but hard for an unfamiliar reporter to grasp.

German aid worker kidnapped in Somalia

Somalia is bad ugly territory for aid workers. Today, a German aid worker was taken. No name has been released, but he was an experienced guy who’d been in Afghanistan. He was working for Welthungerhilfe, also known as German Agro Action. Welthungerhilfe is active in Somaliland, which is actually one of the safer parts of the country to work in. There is always terrible risk to working in Somalia, but the need is so great that you can’t really ignore the ethical imperative.