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Preparing for Dadaab

Dadaab has one of the greatest child protection programmes that Save the Children has in Africa. This is where you can find the best child protection and child’s best interest determination personnel in Africa, and the probably the world can be found.

Since I started working for Save the Children I have been based in the Nairobi Office and I receive all the information from the different programmes that we have in Kenya – this is my job.

When you sit in the office there is always the feeling that you are missing something. After some time, just getting the information is not enough and you feel the need to meet a beneficiary and see the children that are benefiting from your work, and also meet the people that work for these children.

I felt much joy when Nicola my line manager said that I will be assisting in the Depicting Injustice project in one of the camps in Dadaab together with the Kenyan photographer Julius Mwelu. Rachel Palmer sent me lots of literature on my assignment and I felt much prepared after her brief on the phone.

I was now ready to go and meet the beneficiaries.

As I prepared for my maiden visit to the field I knew that my wardrobe had to be in order because what is decent in Nairobi might feel like dress code from mars in North Eastern – these are cultures miles apart.

I could not comprehend how I was to keep cool in the high temperatures which can go as high as 35 degrees and be totally covered up, this wardrobe situation was compounded by this being my first time to fly. As such it can determine how I feel about flying for the rest of my life. I was very tense and it took the encouragement from Nicola and Castro our logistics manager to make me relax.

The flight was uneventful and it took us one hour to get to Dadaab. The trip from the air strip to the office was only a 10 minute drive along a sandy road. This was the first time I saw this much sand in a place that is not a beach.

Having come from the highlands I was quick to note the lack of vegetation in this area –  for me that translated to hunger for the children and the people of this area. In this dryness there must be nothing to eat!

On arrival to the DMO (Dadaab main office) we got our security brief. These always tends to scare me they seem to be designed to ensure that you are vigilant and careful at all times in the fragile security situation in the North Eastern. Security information is as important as a glass of water.

We then got a brief from HR who assured us that we shall get a place to sleep that night among other things. It was then time for the most interesting bit –  child protection, I needed this most because in my assignment I was going to deal directly with children for the first time in my job. During my induction I learnt that I will not proceed to the field immediately but I will stay in DMO and work from there as I prepare for the field on Monday. I hate Mondays but I have never looked forward to a Monday like I did this one.

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