Last week I had a friend send me a picture of man that died of starvation. He had an empty water bottle in his hand. I asked him where he got the picture and he said he took it with his phone and that it was along the route home for him back from work. It was literally taken on his phone. It horrified me that this poor man would have suffered so much and that he died, not because of a lack of food, because food is available in this world, and in this country, but it was for lack of love; love in action.
About 3 days later I booked a ticket to Kenya and got on the a flight the following day. And I brought my right hand man, filmmaker Eithel Krauss who made the sacrifice to come out to use his gifts to capture what's happening here. We'll be here a week. I have been consulting with the locals here as to where the most effected regions and individuals are. I have emergency food supplies and farming tools and seeds to encourage them to move and start a new life as almost all of their goats are dead due to the lack of rain and vegetation. These people are literally stuck and they can't make the journey without emergency food, and without the tools to successfully farm, near the river where another portion of the country is in harvest.
Today, to one of the 3 village communities I visited I asked if they had any cases of people that you fear will die from hunger. They were kind enough to not point to themselves but start pointing to each other. They brought to me 18 women that were skin and bone. Normally they are so ashamed, so much so that to call a woman fat in Kenya is a big compliment as it signifies she is wealthy with plenty of food. But 2 women stretched their arms out to me and said, through my translator, 'feel my arms and my hands. I'm not sick with a disease. I am dying because of starvation. Thank you for your support and the support of your friends, but please assist us more'.
One of these women showed me her belly and her back and I felt so sick in my stomach that I thought I was going to throw up. I've never had that happen like that before. I chose to hold her hands and look into her eyes, instead of turning away, and that sick feeling surfaced and outburst of tears... it was the feeling of crying when I was a young boy. The people are so tough that their response was confusion and bunch of people laughed. They're not used to expressing emotion, and I think that's largely because they have to conceal their emotions so often not to demoralize. (One group I asked when the last time was that they had a meal when they could eat as much as they like, and I expected an answer of some months, and they told me 10 years. Which is another reason why farming is the answer).
We gave the most critical, these 18 people extra supplies, so they can build their bodies back up. There will be thousands we will be supporting while we are here, and I pray it will be more as people like yourself discern the need.
Now, for this picture. So, my intention was to make sure that we don't leave anyone to starve. So I asked is there anyone you know of that you fear will die very soon? They told us where to go and we drove up the dry river bed a mile or so and found this man within an inch of his life. The people said they fear he could die any day.
In fact the village community we were at an hour before this actually showed me the grave sites of those that had just died within a couple of weeks. One grandmother was holding a baby telling of the death of her daughter. I found out that the famine hit her so hard because she had a 1 week old baby, and was breast feeding, and there wasn't enough nutrition for the both of them. The babies name is Jeremiah. He is 3 weeks old now and being looked after by an old lady, his grandmother, that is in total despair. She cried when talking to me. Of the 5 times I've been here in Africa that was one of the only times I've seen people cry openly.
Now, back to this old man. I spoke with him for a while and he didn't even ask me for money or food. He was just answering all my questions. When I let him know we are committed to bring him back to health he threw his hands up to the sky and thanked God.
What is tragic is that it is so cheap to save lives. And these opportunities don't come around all the time. Back in 2011 something of this nature happened but not to this scale. Hundreds of thousands of people are at risk of starvation and they just need some small emergency supplies. Many families we are issuing with 50 dollars worth of emergency relief food which can last them up to a month, which should carry them through to the next rainfall season which is soon approaching. We are also giving seeds and tools (hoes), which are literally 5 dollars each.
I am meeting with local politicians tomorrow to make the appeal and lobby for the government to fulfill it's promise of a pledge it's made, however I strongly believe it still rests upon us who are compelled to lead the way. It was a couple of weeks ago that money was pledged and nothing has happened since, and people have continued to bury their dead. By taking action this can also have an impact as to force a government to live up to it's promises as they see the spirit of giving and love. We need to show these people that the world has not forgotten and we are not going to let them suffer and die.
As I write this from the small hotel I'm staying in, under a mosquito net, I'm processing all of these emotions. I've been indifferent to the suffering of people I don't know so often in my life but I allowed myself to look into this and I can't help myself from having the tears well up, and from feeling my throat choke up.
Still love is only known through action. Please share this message, and please help to get the word out. Even just having us report on these deaths of starvation can mean that we get threatened by government individuals that are trying to protect an image of their country which is not true, and leaves these people suffering in silence.
If you close your eyes, and block your ears you can still feel the cry for help.
There are ways you can help directly and know that every penny, 100%, of your hard earned money will go directly to save lives, and that these people will know the name of the person that supported them through this trial. If this is something you can do please contact me, message me, so I can show you how to do that. I'll be giving updates and getting the word out on the contribution those are making to help make history. People knowing about you raising your hand just inspires them to raise theirs. But remember we've got to act fast. Literally there are people I met today that could have been dead tomorrow without supplies. If we don't do something we're about to see to see much worse things. It gets even harder when it's young children. And what a gift it is to be able to give ourselves to touch these precious lives.
Please consider making a decision to save lives today for these precious people in Kenya.
Help spread the word.