Friday, October 1, 2021
This morning the HelpAge Senior Director of Operations, Kinfe, and I flew to Gambella, in the South Western part of the country bordering South Sudan. We drove directly to the Jewi Refugee Camp hosting roughly 60,000 refugees from South Sudan. HelpAge is the only source of support and care for older people and also a primary source of care and support for people with disabilities and special needs.
Today is the International Day of Older Persons celebrated across Ethiopia and in the seven refugee camps where we are operational in Gambella. Upon arrival, the gathered community, many of whom would have walked up to 8 hours to welcome us, erupted into song and dance. We had the chance to hear from some elders sharing their struggles as older people in the camp, and in particular, for the life saving eye surgery provided to them by HelpAge.
Truly, I find it difficult to put into words the tremendous feeling of humility I feel to be received so joyfully by people of such resilience and strength, my elders who carry more wisdom, power, pain, and spirit in their little fingers than I will ever know. (This post follows a few days of illness and some adventure in Addis Ababa which I will follow up on later).