The fellowship of suffering. (photo Marianne Bach

After 5 days and 60 hours of driving, our team arrived back in Nairobi last night at 11pm. After four flat tires, two dead batteries and 1,800 kilometers, we were dead. The journey was as jarring to the soul as it was to our bones.

The Turkana are a page out of National Geographic. A ruggedly individualistic and nomadic people who’d rather die than give up their cattle. One of the factors that insulate the Turkana from the rest of the world and the solutions they need is the geographic distance. The Kenyan government officially declares their support for Turkana but there is little visable evidence of infrastructure investment. The roads are hellish and bringing food aid requires high risk to anyone who gets involved.

Beyond the nightmare logistics involved in distributing food across a remote and hostile moonscape is the fact that the Turkana crisis is as much about a dying, marginal culture as it is about dying elderly women and children. The Turkana have retreated into the only thing they know – cows, camels and goats. As their herds die they have no defense against the advancing drought and the lonely few agencies willing to operate there inadvertantly leaves the Turkana with a disempowering dilemma – trade their way of life for free NGO food.

This is a critical time in the history of the Turkana people, surely one of the more marginal and vulnerable groups of people on our planet. The crisis requires both immediate food and innovative long term solutions. For the malnourished children, the vulnerable elderly and the threat against a proud people that we bore witness to this past week, may God grants us new friends and people of good will to stand with us for the people of Turkana.

Turkana girls in the town of Lodwar, Northern Kenya (photo Thomas Busch)

The suffering of the Turkana people of Northern Kenya is as much about a dying culture as it is about dying chilren. A National Geographic worthy people are struggling to maintain their way of life and they’d rahter die than give up their cows and camels. With a little international will, we will keep them alive. The question is, will their way of life of survive?

Waiting for food in Turkana (photo Marianne Bach)

On Thursday (8/25) we witnessed the affects of acute malnutrition in a remote Turkana village called Romuro, which means crying hills.. Yesterday we travelled with World Relief to distribute food in a larger settlement (Lokitaung). Church partners worked with the local chief to select the most vulnerable – the very old and the very young. Overwhelming.

The driver was spared

We drove for 8 hours today on hellish roads to Lodwar, the principal town of Turkana. The logistics involved in giving out food in such a remote place are staggering. We came across this overturned truck that had been hauling food for distribution through Catholic churches. The driver was spared and so was the corn and beans…every grain painstakingly collected by people who know the value of food.

William, Domonic, Thomas, Marianne, Don, Isaac

August 23 , Depart Nairobi for Turkana

Travelers:

Dominic Kithendu – program manager

William Mwangi Mucheke, logistics

Marianne Bach – creative lead, videographer, camera

Isaac Barnes – World Relief communications, writing, camera

Thomas, the Biscuit, Busch  – audio, camera, support

Don Golden –  team leader , driver