When you’re told you’re needed in Somalia, you immediately think of the worst possible thing that could happen to you in the hands of another human being. Despite this, the Somali are very warm and welcoming people and extremely generous. You wonder "What happened?"
Trocaire runs numerous programs in the country and they asked us to cover them. Trócaire is the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland. They have been in Somalia for over 20 years, particularly in the Gedo region. Trócaire’s vision is to implement quality, sustainable and harmonised health and education programmes while also addressing acute humanitarian needs.
Following a poor April to June 2016 Gu season and failed October to December 2016 Deyr season, food security has deteriorated significantly across Somalia. We got called in to cover Trocaire’s interventions during this drought season and how it has further stressed their humanitarian efforts. This is because the drought has reduced the number of sources of potable water and therefore there has been a deadly outbreak of cholera. At the same time, it has caused the Somali people, who are traditionally pastoralists, to move around in search of pasture for their livestock. This in turn has affected school attendance as children must move with their families.
The cholera outbreak was first recorded in Bay and in Bakol, Central Somalia. This being an area under extremist militia, humanitarian agencies were expelled and are prevented from returning. The inhabitants have had to travel to Gedo, in the South, in order to receive treatment and food to help them through the drought. Unfortunately, they have brought the cholera infection with them, introducing it to the local population as well have creating cholera hotspots within their refugee IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps.
Yet through all this, Trocaire still had to keep working. Even though both the drought and resultant cholera were unexpected occurrences, they still had to factor them into their programs as the repercussions from both had far reaching effects. These new circumstances took a great toll on their budgets, requiring them to fund-raise and that’s where we came in. Our assignment was to cover the effects of the drought and cholera outbreak and how Trocaire was working hard to:
1. Curtail the spread of cholera
2. Highlight Trocaire’s work in Gedo.
These images and video would help show what they are up against and assist them in fundraising to buffer their already strained budget. It was an assignment we truly enjoyed because we love working with organisations that are working to uplift the people they serve. Trocaire does not even employ external security in this volatile country. They rely on community policing and since they have been very instrumental in helping uplift the conditions of the people of Gedo, the community protects them very well.
For me the key thing was to shoot images that showed the humanity of Somalia. I purposed to move away from images war or complete devastation and show a people that are living and working and building their nation. Somalia has a working government and its people desire to see its success. This drought, however, has further hampered its advancement. All Somalia needs is support lent to its already established systems. That's why Trocaire is there.