The Basics

Posting by Bryce

The wind in Isiolo isn’t a force of nature, it’s a movement of human will. It rolls through the desert with all our intents…whether they wish harm, give hope or await for either.
On our third day at Pepo la Tumaini Jangwani we took part in a food distribution. Maize was given to some local tribes whose land was unfarmable due to lack of water. It was amazing to see how happy the people were to receive a few pounds of dry food. We soon learned that this experience was a precursor to a coming crisis. That same day UNICEF called a surprise security meeting
to inform Pepo of policy changes.
For the past two and a half years UNICEF has been providing food to over a thousand households through Pepo la Tumaini.
This constant supply has lead to a dependence on UNICEF. The policy change has dictated that the food be no longer supplied to those over five years of age. Hence, the food these people have depended on is gone.
To compound the problem, the Kenyan government has been giving out free AIDS medicine, which requires proper nutrition to work properly. Given the UNICEF support, Pepo la Tumaini put a large number of HIV/AIDS patients on the medicine. Now, with the pulling out of nutritional support, the majority of the patients will relapse causing an uncontainable amount of severe AIDS cases numbering in the thousands.
The looming crisis helped to remind us that we can only move forward if
our most basic needs are met. Having made relationships with the
people who will soon be left in the wind and its intents, I’m coming
to a realization. I have found the sense of injustice that fuels so many
documentary photographers.
I’ve heard the people of Isiolo referred to as the forgotten people.
Driving to their camps, I might have believed it. But when we saw how
they cared for each other and the positive change Pepo la Tumaini is
bringing, we realize that they have only been forgotten by the
affluent. We can so easily forget the trust that interpersonal
connection brings and the ease at which human dignity can be violated
by turning one another into statistics.
Over the past few days, I’ve come to understand the importance of
community based efforts. Only by being one of the people you are
helping do you understand their needs. The work at Pepo la Tumaini
Jangwani is both inspiring and heartbreaking. Everyday Khadija and
the other volunteers come to terms with the mortality of hope. And
everyday they find that moment of happiness from the people they help.
It’s a moment that is just as meaningful as any report, but as
intangible as the wind.


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