The streets that had been muddy last July have now dried up. 2 Months ago did the last raindrops fall. The country is dry and barren; I’m anxious to go and find out how the situation is in the camps down south – desert area. The smell of hay mixes with thick diesel smog. I am, once more, making my way to the Somali refugee camps to run a training with the local health workers. Once again 3 days driving down south and afterwards the long 3 days back up again. All the way across a magnificent country.

The seemingly endless stream of youngsters in their pink and purple suits reveal a school in the neighbourhood. We slow down for a bunch of mules on the road. Cars, busses, trucks, and wood-and-rope-barrels pass by, passionately pressing their horns; the animals are not easily impressed and won’t move a single bit. A boy takes advantage of the little hold-up and tries to sell some sweets and cold drinks. A girl carries packages of chewing gum, neatly positioned side by side and selected by colour, in a wooden draw upon her head; bags of chips dangle on the side. She knocks on the window of the car, holding up her hand – then stroking her belly as to signal ‘I’m hungry’. The driver nods a determined ‘no’ and receives an indignant look in return.

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I’m heading into the community with my students today, for a home visit. A hut visit, in fact. We find a man, 30 years old with 7 children; his hut is built from twigs, tree stumps and clay. I squat just like everyone does, but a woman suddenly appearing from the dark, shuffles a tiny stool underneath me. I observe a man whose language I don’t speak. Still I understand a lot, because I observe and see a lot happening.

His children are hanging around the bright sunlight coming through the open doorway. The leg of one of his sons is covered with sand. Several layers of sand; I can’t see his skin anymore. The sand is cracked just like the walls of this hut.

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Saturday morning, the pickup truck is being loaded. A gas tank, spare tires, a shovel, and my training materials are routinely put in the back of the van. A palm leaf is quickly cut from a tree and put underneath the tarp; it should avoid the scuffing of it against the car. One last stop at the office, to get the latest security update and instructions before we head out. We’re instructed to drive with magnetics of the logo on the sides of the car but no flags. NGO-indicative material is often assumed to provide protection, but it may just as well attract ‘bad guys’. NGOs are regarded to have money; a captured white woman could possibly buy off a lot of dollars or euros. I am aware of the rivaling clans along the road ahead and the risk of getting trapped in the conflict.

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