CAFOD celebrity ambassador Emma Rigby has just returned from a visit to Northern Kenya to see how money raised from the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) and CAFOD’s East Africa Crisis Appeal, have been used to support the millions of people living in the region who are in urgent need of food and water due to devastating drought.
“Through no fault of their own, the drought has caused people to lose their entire livelihoods – livestock – cattle, goats, camels – which they are utterly dependent upon for their survival,” said Ms Rigby.
On an emotional five-day trip, the 27-year-old ex-Hollyoaks actress, visited remote parts of Northern Kenya, travelling with CAFOD and its local Caritas aid workers, to see how they deliver emergency aid to vulnerable families.
Visiting the Daaba community in Isiolo, she saw how a mobile nutrition clinic, was a lifeline to mothers and their malnourished children.
Fr Stephen Murage, director of Caritas Isiolo, who accompanied Emma, told her: “We never give up, whether the fourth, fifth, sixth drought, we never give up. We can’t stand by and let people suffer. We must respond. Responding creates hope in people’s hearts. When people see Caritas, they find the strength to carry on, to survive.”
Travelling further north, from Isiolo to Marsabit, Ms Rigby saw urgently needed food being distributed to the community in Bubisa.
“I met amazing women who, somehow, had found the will and the spirit to survive,” Ms Rigby said.
She saw the dignified approach with which CAFOD’s local Caritas aid workers from Caritas Marsabit, delivered vital food aid to 3,000 people – each village representative collects the food aid and distributes it amongst the families in their village rather than queueing for hours to receive their sacks of food, the village group sits together, and divides up the food aid, according to the needs of each family.
“Here the community decided, with Caritas Marsabit, on a better way to distribute food aid, that didn’t involve queuing, but did involve the participation of the community in their village groups,” Ms Rigby continued.
“What might seem a small detail to me or you, meant so much to the mainly women I met, they told me they felt in control, and their ‘dignity had been restored’.”
The UN estimates that 23 million people across South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Northern Kenya are in need of humanitarian assistance, and where half a million children under five are at risk of dying from severe acute malnutrition and require immediate life-saving treatment.
The DEC East Africa Crisis Appeal has raised £60 million, three months on from its appeal launch in March; and CAFOD’s own appeal has raised almost £4 million, to tackle the hunger crisis with local solutions.
Aid is reaching people suffering a humanitarian crisis in parts of East Africa, but ongoing drought and conflict are making the situation worse. CAFOD and its local Caritas aid agencies, continue to urgently support those hit by the devastating drought across East Africa.
Ms Rigby, set to star in ITV’s Endeavour this autumn, said: “Three months may have passed by since this crisis hit the media headlines, but the needs are still great, the effect of this drought is not over.
“CAFOD and its local aid workers are doing invaluable work providing aid where it’s needed most.
“I’ve learned that the aid I saw being delivered is more than just aid, it truly gives people a sense of hope and restores dignity.”
To find out more about the East Africa Crisis Appeal, or to make a donation, visit: www.Cafod.org.uk/eastafrica
Read more about Emma Rigby’s recent trip to Northern Kenya in this week’s Universe, where she speaks to Nick Benson in an exclusive interview. This week’s Universe (7th July edition) is out now.
Picture: Emma Rigby in a CAFOD t-shirt during her visit to Northern Kenya. (David Mutua/CAFOD).