Dadaab Update – Part 1

Your roving reporter is now back in Dadaab, in northeast Kenya, the site of the largest refugee camp in the world with close to half a million people plotted into five camps. Only about 100 kms from the border of Somalia, Dadaab has been home to many refugees since it opened 20 years ago. As the conflict and the drought continue, vibrant lives go on as people are born, die and get married in the camps.

Things they don’t tell you about working in Dadaab:

• Even though the whole place is full of thick red sand, there is grass, shrubs, trees with a rich and vibrant bird life. I haven’t seen as many of the colourful birds as I do in Nairobi but the birdsong keeps me company as I work and live here.
• How beautifully stretchy mosquito nets are which makes it easier to expand the holes.
• That if you need to eliminate potential mosquito highways in your net, the best thing to do is to twist the netting really really thin then make a knot.
• That mosquito nets come with frills on the top – so cute! Maybe one day someone will market a full range of coloured nets to match your bedroom décor.
• Sometimes the black houseflies are more annoying than the mosquitos. They’re real “people flies”, wanting to get close to you ALL the time. Reminds me of being in the Australian outback.
• How for some reason, the sheets are always sandy – which is especially great after you’ve moisturized and gives another meaning to exfoliation.
• The most amazing looking critters still get into the room even though you have plugged up every hole.

Coming to you from Dadaab, Kenya
November 2011