No one beyond reach: Local projects with global reach

15 February 2019

CAFOD aid worker Isacko Jirma is helping people to rebuild their lives after the terrible East Africa drought in 2017.

Ad worker Isacko Jirma is helping people to rebuild their lives after the terrible East Africa drought in 2017.

Isacko Jirma lives in Marsabit County, Kenya. It’s about twelve hours’ drive during the dry season from the capital, Nairobi. Once you arrive in Marsabit, drive through town and onto a road for another hour. Turn off into the bush, continue over sand and through rocks towards the horizon for another hour-and-a-half.

The nomadic Borana and Rendille live here alongside the Gabbra and Turkana.

The difficulty for people in this region in northern Kenya and for hard-to-reach communities around the world like them is: when the entire community is suffering who will be there to help?

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We are there to help no matter what

The UN estimates there are 40 million people around the world right now who are nomads – people who move from one place to another. But it’s vulnerable groups like these who struggle most when disasters such as drought strike.

Isacko is in Burgabo helping people to rebuild their lives after the terrible East Africa drought in 2017. Today, he’s helping to give out food vouchers, but he’s been working across the region, keeping people alive who were on the brink. The crisis that left over 13 million people without enough good food to eat may be over according to our TV screens, but for all the people here waiting including Kushi Huka, 30, a single mum here, it’s still very real.

“I could beg for food or starve,” she says. “Without you, I don’t know what would have happened. Maybe we would be dead.”

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We help people to build back their lives, better

Kushi and her neighbours still need help because they lost so much during the crisis. She shows me a 20ft circular enclosure built near her home. “This is where my animals used to be.” It’s empty now. Every animal she had perished during the drought.

Isacko is an aid worker for our Church network in this difficult-to-reach part of Kenya. When he was younger, he left the area to study and work with aid organisations in other parts of the country, but he realised his calling.

“I had to come back, this is something I felt strongly. In my heart. I have a passion for my work. I am a Borana. I define myself within this problem. I can see myself in this situation and I have seen my family in this situation. I am in a position to deal with it.”

Thanks to people like Isacko with local knowledge, CAFOD is one of the very few organisations working with people on the fringes of society. Kushi has been supported with food vouchers to keep her family fed, but she is soon going to be enrolled on a project to help her and some of the most vulnerable people in her community to grow food in this extreme environment.

“I have lived through this. My family has lived through this,” continues Isacko. “I would not be here without the Catholic Church. I came back here to give something back.”

We are part of an extensive global Church network

CAFOD is part of an extensive global Catholic Church network which means we can help some of the poorest, most vulnerable people – of all faiths and none – in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.

We save and change the lives of women, men and children who may live in remote locations; they may be stuck in conflict; or they may be from a persecuted community.

Watch our film to hear more about Isacko - one of the brilliant aid professionals you help to support.

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