The 2011 Horn of Africa drought was a devastating natural disaster that led to a famine in Somalia and the broader region . The drought developed slowly, lasting a long time and affecting a wide geographic area. Lack of rainfall resulted in crop failure, animal mortality, and high food prices.
The situation was exacerbated by the presence of the Al-Shabaab militia group and the civil war in Somalia, causing people to flee their homes and seek refuge in neighboring countries like Kenya. Many refugees embarked on a dangerous journey lasting up to 7 days through the desert, facing hunger and thirst. The influx of refugees created a major crisis at the Dadaab Refugee Camp, located on the Somalia-Kenya border . Urgent actions were needed to address the crisis, including providing aid and support to the affected populations and improving governance and international response mechanisms to prevent future catastrophes.
Charity Acts, a humanitarian organization committed to raising funds and providing aid to children in the UN Dadaab refugee camp and its vicinity, embarks on a mission to generate awareness. Their team travels to the area, documenting the harsh realities and dire conditions of the famine-stricken and suffering population through daily short videos. Their goal is to shed light on the situation, engage the public, and rally support to alleviate the plight of those affected. By showcasing the true extent of the crisis, Charity Acts aims to make a meaningful impact and bring about positive change.
Considering the dangers surrounding us, such as the drought, the presence of the Al-Shabaab militant group, explosions along the road, and threats towards the UN and those working with them , we embarked on our journey in a very small group. Every day, we would leave our hotel in Garissa city, East Kenya, at 5:00 A.M., and start our perilous journey to the Dadaab refugee camp . We had to drive for five hours through an arid desert on a treacherous pathway to reach our destination. Fortunately, we were accompanied by Kenya Redcross, the only organization that Al-Shabaab had not attacked at the time .
During our journey, we witnessed extraordinary and deeply moving moments that resonated with the essence of human existence. The images captured and the experiences encountered left an indelible mark on our souls. The expressions on people’s faces, the joyous smiles on the parched lips of children, the heart-wrenching sobs of a mother, and the sight of those yellow water buckets, desperate for a mere drop of water, will forever remain etched in our memories. Notably, we were joined by the esteemed Iranian actor, Katayoun Riahi, whose involvement in humanitarian work since 2005 greatly contributed to raising awareness about the plight we witnessed.
In collaboration with Charity Acts and Redcross, we successfully produced 16 episodes of “A Drop for a Sea,” a powerful series aimed at inspiring people in the Middle East to actively engage and support the ongoing crisis. The impact was tremendous. Through our efforts, we were able to provide food for 2600 children for a period of 6 months. Additionally, we arranged for the installation of 8 water tanks in communities located outside the UN camps, and we played a vital role in renewing and empowering the Garissa orphanage house, among other notable achievements.
Katayoun Riahi, Christine Vishnesky, Kavos Mobaraki