Our job profile tells us to do regularly field visits. So we went for a trip to the following villages: Maikona, Kalacha, Hurri Hills, Forolle, Burgabo, Turbi and Bubisa. All melodious names, aren’t they? Two nights we spend in Kalacha respectively Turbi and it was fascinating in its own way.
In Maikona we met the elders of the zones and we exchanged the impact of our intervention and the challenges they face (or we face within our intervention). It was quite impressive, sitting with around 30 people in a hut. Some of them are still very traditional with their typical clothing, turbans etc. Some are already quite “modern”.
We continued our way along the Chalbi desert to Kalacha. We followed the hills on the eastern side not to lose track. Many years ago the desert was a lake with saline water and the soil still conserves the salt. The landscape was just impressive and after some kilometres we found mating ostriches. Some kilometres further we saw nomads bringing their animals to the western side of Chalbi. It is paradox: in Kalacha, on the eastern side of the desert, there is plenty of water but the soil does not allow growing much. No grass, only some trees. On the other side there is plenty of pasture. So the nomads walk the 40km through the desert back and forth and back and forth…
The following day we visited Kalacha Nomadic Girls primary school. 750 nomadic girls have the possibility to get education. And the chance of getting married at the age of 12 is reduced too. We continued through fields of stones and dust towards Hurri Hills. On our way, in the middle of nowhere, we found two women. They came here with their sheep from Bubisa – around 80km linear distance. It took them one week and within that week they lost 100 “shorts” as they call sheep and goats.
We rushed through Hurri Hills to Forolle – a “sacred place” pursuant to Chief Bonaya. Close to the Ethiopian border the pastoralists from the Gabbra tribe come here for pilgrimage. “You shall not swear, not steal, not fire a gut, and not take some wood from here”, we have been told.
Our trip continued via Burgabo to Turbi, where we spent the night and where we got the toughest chicken I ever experienced. The next morning we visited another school and I found this really apathetic, malnourished boy. 8 years old, looked like 6. No shoes, no uniform as the others. But now as school starts he gets 3 meals a day and tea twice a day. Hope to see him in better shape next time!
We hit the road for our final 3 hours’ drive back to Marsabit. Worst conditions, given the fact that it is the main road between Addis Ababa and Nairobi (respect to all who did this on a motorbike!). Shortly before we entered Bubisa we saw a camel on the roadside. Not able to move, too weak. It is tough to live in this area. Let’s hope for some rain!