Dolo Ado, Ethiopia
July 20, 2011
Today I visited the Dolo Transition center just outside of town where nearly 10,000 newly arrived refugees are waiting to be transported to the camps located 55 miles away. Ideally, refugees would pass through this site in just a few days but the unfortunate reality is that it is taking as long as 10 to 15 days. Transport has slowed because the three existing camps are already at full capacity.
The third camp, Kobe, opened less than four weeks ago, already holds 25,000 people and cannot take anymore. As a result the population at the transit center continues to swell by day and the need for the most basic of services (food, medical attention, shelter) is increasing exponentially.
Last Monday, Save the Children began a supplementary food program at a site that provides meals to all children under 5 years old. I entered our large feeding tent and was surprised to feel a large smile emerging on my face; there was a sea of tiny children sitting on mats scooping porridge out of bright yellow and red mugs. They were honestly some of the most adorable children I have ever seen.
Even with the realization that the meal we were providing for the them was just a first step in meeting their most basic of needs, I have to admit to feeling a true sense of relief, an inner joy at watching them eat.
After seeing only fear and exhaustion on the faces of these little ones for the past two days, witnessing a smile here and there inspired an indescribable sensation within my chest: something inside me was no longer clenched as tightly as it had been before.