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The human spirit – an overlooked asset

Day 2: Friday 30 September, 2011

The second day of my trip starts at 6am. It’s 250km to our Habaswein office. The journey cuts through the expansive desert that is a battle with nature: high temperatures, dust, lack of a road network. This place shatters expectations. Thousands of residents will make their way to the road at the briefest sight of a vehicle carrying food, because they know it could feed their entire family.

I can’t see why they still classify this part of the country as ‘semi-arid’. For a part of the world that hasn’t seen rainfall in three years, really? The only hope of a water source is the mirage forming on the horizon.

The sights that littered the road to habaswein

Today’s journey feels long and is aggravated by a now sore back, aching neck and swollen feet but I have to keep myself together. I think about the thousands of people affected by drought, who have to hitch lifts from cargo trucks in the most uncomfortable of situations and haven’t had a decent meal in the longest time. Hope, the last thing keeping them alive, is only sufficient to last the next breath. Here I am, tired from the trip but guaranteed a bath, a meal and rest  at the end of the day.

With about 80km left to go, we stop at a police barrier for routine checks and get cleared quickly when they see we’re in a Save the Children car. An assuring nod from the policeman tells me he’s probably seen plenty of this before. We exchange pleasantries and he thanks us for coming to children’s rescue.

The expansive desert tells me something about the resilience of the human spirit. I stare at the camel and cattle carcasses – evidence of the food and water scarcity – and listen to the desert wind whistle through the twig houses that are wearing away until I hear the engine go off. I snap back to reality as the driver announces that we’re finally here, in Habaswein.

Offloading the high-nutrient peanut paste

We take the first batch of peanut paste off the truck so the driver can take the rest on to the next office, extending this lifeline to another group of children.

Once we’re done, we head straight to the hotel for some rest and prepare for another day of interaction with the team that carries the hope for mothers and children packaged in little boxes.

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