NBC News has asked me to write a few words about my experience this past
week in Dadaab, Kenya. I'd like to say that all my preconceived notions
about the situation in Eastern Kenya and Southern Somalia - the poverty and
hunger, the hopelessness and helplessness - were wrong. No, that's exactly
what I witnessed. It's heartbreaking and sad. It makes you want to empty
your wallet for every desperate family you encounter, but you can't. I feel
wrenched with guilt about my cushy life and never again will I feel
overwhelmed by a pile of laundry or a long line at the post office.
What really struck me was the resilience of the human spirit and the
brightness in the eyes and smiles of the children. Many of the young people
we encountered had never even seen their own image. Watching their big eyes
light up when they saw themselves on the playback of my digital camera was
such a thrill for me. These kids have nothing; no toys, no school, no
shoes, no bath or toilet, no health care, little food, and some might say no
hope. Many have witnessed the worst atrocities imaginable, but still they
radiate joy and innocence.
I wish every child (and every adult, for that matter) in the privileged west
could see what I saw this week; not just on television, but in person, where
you can shake a hand and look eye-to-eye. It could only make each one of us
a kinder, more empathetic, and more grateful person.
Robert Colvill is part of the NBC team that has been covering the dire situation in the famine-stricken Horn of Africa. He sent us these photos he took in the refugee camps of Dadaab, Kenya.
All images: Copyright Robert Colvill, NBC News