Editor's Note: Joy Portella is communications director for Mercy Corps, a global humanitarian organization. She recently visited parts of Africa suffering from drought and famine. The following includes some excerpts from her blog at MercyCorps.org that she wrote during her journey.
I recently visited Garissa, Kenya - a city of at least 180,000 people not far from the border with Somalia - and areas to the north to see how this year's drought has impacted families in the area.
From an outside perspective, it's easy to hear about drought in the Horn of Africa and glaze over. It's one of those creeping natural disasters that people in the West hear about almost every year.
But this isn't just another annual drought - this is the worst crisis the region has seen in 60 years. (The United Nations officially declared a famine in Somalia on Wednesday.) To put that in historical perspective, the situation is looking more grim than the massive drought in Ethiopia in the mid-1980s that prompted the Live Aid concert, and the drought in Somalia in early 1990s that led to the well-known United Nations peacekeeping mission.
Famine in East Africa: How to help
First of all, there is a big difference between “enjoying” ice cream and “needing” ice cream - so for the sake of time, we will not even discuss the one-person, one-spoon and one-carton method of scarfing down the frozen medicine of your choice.
But during your saner moments – do you prefer your ice cream in a bowl or a cone? Easy question, right?
Sink your teeth into today's top stories from around the globe.
The intern with the shaved head was on her phone in the bathroom again. She seemed to regard the third floor ladies room at our office as her personal rec room which was...fine, if somewhat unnervingly intimate on occasion. I realized, though, that I'd severely, thoroughly, grossly underestimated her level of one-ness with these particular environment on the day several years ago when I saw her emerge from a stall, eating cereal. From a bowl. With milk.
I get it - we're all busy people, caught up in this topsy-turvy, whiz-bang work world where news breaks in 140 character bites and we can gulp down songs, books, TV shows and films the second they burble to mind. It's a miracle that any of us can find a spare five minutes to brush our teeth, apply footwear and haul our info-riddled carcasses to our desks, but still, one should always find time to eat somewhere other than a public toilet. That's my wide, solid stance and I'm sticking to it.