domenica 28 gennaio 2018

Meeting Poors at their Home

Volunteers of Wajir Grannies Centre - DCCG (John, Patrick, Habiba) have remained the only representatives of the Catholic community to visit families in the villages. Once this activity was a practice for the Rehabilitation Centre, which carried out community based rehabilitation for children who could not go to the Centre. Today this does not happen anymore. "Reasons for security" is reported to me by the Camillian sisters. Honestly, I can not blame them.
I accompanied the volunteers to visit the elders registered in the centre (over two hundred) in the villages of Alimaow, Gutut, Jogoo, Hodhan, Wagberi. I understood in person the importance of going to meet the poor at their home. It was essential that I’ve been introduced by the DCCG team. Very few whites are seen in town (in the week I've been there I've never met one) and in the villages nobody ever. I was the first white child that many children met in their life. Somali culture is very diffident and closed towards foreigners: the company of the volunteers of the centre has instead generated joy and welcome and wide-open smiles everywhere. This is the legacy of Sister Teresanna's thirty years of service to the aged. Taking pictures was not a problem and even the access inside the “tucul“ (the small dome-shaped huts of the Somalis) was allowed friendly. I also seated and I was offered Somali tea filled with goat's milk. All this in other circumstances would have been difficult for a foreigner and even impossible for a white man.
The volunteers of the DCCG Centre are the ambassadors of the Christian community in the villages. The Charity that they practice constantly allows all Catholics to be accepted and to live in peace in Wajir.
Many grannies registered at the Centre are unable to walk. It is therefore important to meet relatives or those who come to collect the medicines, foods and other basic necessities that are distributed.
Entering the small enclosures built with low thorny bushes planted on the sand allows us to understand how the grannies family is composed. In general, only women and children are encountered, since men, when they exist, are generally looking for a job or in the bush with dromedaries and zebu. I have found that there is never more than one salary (often occasional) every ten to fifteen people.
The interior of the huts is very poor. Two or three beds are laid out on the sand, often without a mattress. Some objects hang from the branches that make up the supporting skeleton. There are no ornaments - besides there are no furniture - nor decorative objects. The heat is more or less suffocating depending on the roof material of the hut: acceptable if covered with straw mats, unbearable if in plastic sheets or even pieces of sheet metal.
During the visits we met some success stories occurred in the many attempts to offer opportunities to generate income for grannies. Some goats distributed have become small herds, simple business tables transformed into real shops.
Meeting families is also an opportunity to verify a disheartening fact: many children do not attend school. Indeed, it seems that the choice whether to go to school or not is entrusted to the children themselves. A decisive intervention in this sense should be a future development of the Centre's activities.
During the visits to the villages, the aged became the pretext to get to know many aspects of culture, families and Somali society. Looking for grannies you end up meeting two equally vulnerable categories such as children and women. Together they are engaged in the daily struggle for survival and our goal is to help them find dignity and humanity even in such difficult lives.

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