Chris Tidey is a UNICEF communications officer presently supporting emergency relief efforts in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. Today is his 30th birthday.
Can you describe the situation of staff and volunteers – what are their days like, their work, their hours, etc?
UNICEF staff here in Dadaab are bringing an incredible amount of energy to their work every day – it is inspiring to see. The hours are extremely long, 12 to 16 hour days and the conditions are difficult (extreme heat, dust, most of us sharing tents). That said, the team here is upbeat and deeply committed to their work.
Where are you and other colleagues staying in Dadaab? What is it like for you to be there, to report about it?
UNICEF staff are staying in a small compound with other agencies and NGOs close to the camps. Most of us are living rustically with 2 or even 3 to a tent. My shoes are constantly filled with sand!
How do you all deal with what you see and experience there?
Chris-in-the-field.jpgMany of us have seen some heartbreaking scenes that will likely never be forgotten. Today, for example, I met a 3 year old boy suffering from severe acute malnutrition. He weighed less than 5 kilos and could barely hold his head up. Children losing parents. Parents losing children. It’s tough. I think that UNICEF staff just stay positive on focused on the job at hand. There are literally thousands of children here who need our help, so there is no time to dwell on the tragedy.
Given the dimensions of the crisis, what can you tell our donors who doubt their help can do any good?
I would tell donors that their support does help. In fact, I would tell them that we couldn’t do our jobs without it. I would tell them that their support means we were able to give the malnourished children I met today the therapeutic food they need to get healthy. Their support saves children’s lives, plain and simple.