You’ve been living in this part of East Africa for generations, but this is the third year your crops have failed. Rain has not come, and the cattle on which you rely are dying around you, decimating your herd. You have almost nothing left, but you’ve heard of a camp where you can get shelter, food and medical aid. It will take you the best part of a month to walk, but you set off anyway with your family: you have no choice if you are to stay alive.


On the way, you are set upon by a gang who rob you of the little you have left, and rape your women. You pick yourselves up and set off again.

As you approach the camp, your two-year-old dies in your arms of starvation.

What is happening in East Africa is hellish and heartbreaking, and this story is normal, not unusual. Which of us will ever face such a terrible situation? Ordinary people are not only suffering from drought but also from civil war and the breakdown of law and order.

I’m making this the subject of a special service at the end of the month: but as I trawl the internet for images for my powerpoint, there are some I can’t bear to dwell on, never mind use for my presentation.

The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC)* is, as usual, pulling out all the stops to try and get aid to the area asap. This is a combination of 14 agencies, Christian, secular and Muslim, who pool the resources we send so that they can be used more effectively to bring relief to those who suffer.

It is of course also possible to donate individually to any organisation we already support.  Christian Aid, like most of the others, has ongoing work in the region which is taking place through local partnerships, so that the task of building sustainable lifestyles can continue on a long-term basis.  Donations to individual organisations will go only to the work of that organisation.

We can feel helpless in the face of the magnitude of such disasters, but we have so much by comparison, and the little we can give or do, when all put together, can make a difference.

*ActionAid, Age UK, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, Merlin, Oxfam, Plan UK, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision.




  1. We have been following the news of this tragedy for a while now, and there are many who answer the calls for charity. Unfortunately, the situation itself is most terrible, and many are literally starving to death. How good it is, that this does matter to many.


  2. I have donated, never expecting to see or hear that this region would have a label of famine again in my lifetime. It doesn’t seem so long ago that one of the child survivors, now an adult, was shown to the British public. All that feel good factor gone again when reality of the circularity of life and pain reappears.

    Unicef have made a very strong plea for direct donations, as they say their organisation is the one that is directly on the ground feeding the needy and giving whatever other medical aid is desperately needed, *now*. It made me think about the donation I made via another organisation, specifying on the form to which aid organisation it should be directed.

    This is an issue for various aid organisations to have forms for donations, in this way, people can choose which one they feel would meet the best need at this stage or later, for other support issues, if so inclined.

    Dunblane donations were evidenced in the way suggested and I was able to choose where my support was going to go on the ground. A different a scene, I know, the sentiments are the same.


    1. Thanks for these helpful comments, Menhir. Good points. Donations can also be made to the individual organisations of the DEC in which case the money will go to their partnerships on the ground, which many of them already have. I’ve amended my post accordingly.


      1. Glad my comments helped. Unicef have a website where direct donations can be given. It is possible that the banks have paying-in slips for Unicef. I know some hold credit slips for DEC and one or two other aid avenues.

        As an aside, some years ago, I thought about donating for a cause via the central DEC. I was really disappointed with the administration for donating to them. It was going to cost me to donate and I was very unsure after that, where the rest of my goodwill was going to disappear to. As a consequence, I avoid DEC and use other channels.


      2. I’ve had similar experiences with other organisations and lack of efficiency does result in donors losing heart and going elsewhere where they can be sure that their money will be professionally handled.


  3. My church collected for CAFOD this Sunday gone as it happens.

    It is so overwhelming, the plight of so many people, it feels hopeless but one must give what one can because it does all add up…..


    1. It does indeed :yes: and it’s good that so many of the Christian aid organisations are now working together when disasters strike – much more efficient!


  4. This is a dreadful situation for these poor people I agree with the others every penny helps so please give whatever you can afford … I so agree with Janets comment :yes:


  5. Thank you for this post Gilly. Yes, it is vital that we all give anything that we can to help these proud and dignified peopled.
    In this and many other countries, we take so much for granted. If we simply gave up one meal, a tube of lipstick, a toy, a trip to the cinema….we could make a huge collective difference. To not help is inhumane, and when we go down that route we are all doomed!


    1. Do you think everyone does give, Pauline? Or do you think we all get so wrapped up in our own lives and problems that it all just seems too far away, remote and unreal to us?


      1. Is this about sustainability? It seems humanitarian to me. We have many agencies and charities helping people in this country too, as well as the £260 billion the government spends on our NHS and benefits.


  6. It s intolerable that this still happens, I ve just commented on Silverliz s blog re this hideous situation.

    It doesn t matter how little people give, it all mounts up so come on guys, I know its a recession but we all have spare change! GIVE TODAY!

    Its so sad that there are mountains of food rotting away!
    Disgusting really.


    1. Sometimes I think we’ve got it all wrong, too, PP – but then I think of how generous people in this country can be. Thanks for your comment and your support.


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