Taking time to count blessings: reflections on northern Kenya

It’s been an eventful week in the Latham household, one that’s been a powerful reminder of how much I have to be thankful for.

Ten days ago, my manager asked if I could take a last-minute trip to northern Kenya to gather stories about how people there have been affected by the East Africa food crisis. I work as a writer and editor for a humanitarian organization, but this is not normally part of my role. I’m usually chained to my desk.

I had three days to prepare for the trip. The day before I left, my husband had a job interview in the Netherlands – and got his dream job. So among the excitement and nervousness of traveling to a corner of Kenya that most tourists don’t see, I also had the excitement and nervousness of realizing I’ll soon be leaving London for a new country.

I flew to Kenya a week ago today, and had my first day free, so I spent it cruising around Nairobi National Park – apparently Nairobi is the only city in the world with a national park within city limits. And it’s amazing. Zebras, giraffes, buffalo – I even saw a lioness stalk some zebras (she gave up after about ten minutes).

Nairobi National Park

Then I met my team of colleagues from around the world and flew in a twin-prop up to Lodwar, a town in the county of Turkana. Turkana is populated by nomadic herding people – also called Turkana – who have been severely affected by the failure of the rains over the last year. The men have to walk further with the animals to find pastures, and they leave the women, children and elderly behind. But since the animals provide the main food source – milk – women, children and the elderly are left searching for food in an arid semi-desert.

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