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#ClimateStory4Kids: Osman and the land of the desperate ones


#ClimateStory4Kids: Osman and the land of the desperate ones

Hey readers.

Welcome to #ClimateStory4Kids, on today’s series, we will be bringing you a climate change story based on the drought crisis in Kenya.

Drought has been a major climate change menace, drying up crops, water sources and killing animals. Sadly, many smallholders in remote communities in Kenya have lost their major source of income as a result of this.

During an especially dry, hot day, Osman ran faster than his tiny legs could carry. He was on a dreadful mission to report bad news to his father. The 10-year-old boy lived in Bandarero, near Moyale town on the Ethiopian border, with his father, Hussein.

For many days now, Bandarero has been in the grip of a severe drought. The situation continues to worsen leaving the villagers destitute. Most of them barely have food and water to survive on.

Stopping midway to catch his breath, Osman wondered just how he would break the news to his father. Even as a child, he had noticed the lines on his father’s face get deeper every day he labored on his farm.

His mother once jokingly called those lines a sign of maturity but Osman knew better. His father was worried about how he would care for his family after losing half of their entire herd of cows to the drought.

That morning, Osman’s father had sent him out to check on what was left of the herd. The number of cows he saw pitifully gnawing on their tongue was like a blow to his chest.

Osman knew that his chances of going back to school had just dropped to zero. Furiously, he wiped the tears dripping down his face with the torn edge of his dirty sleeve and picked up his pace.

The little boy got to his homestead panting heavily. “Baba, Baba!!!, 3! 3 more today!” He walked to his father and broke down in tears.

“Calm down and talk to me. Osman, what happened?” Hussein asked his son. Although he had to put up a brave front for the sake of his family, deep down he was scared that things have just taken a turn for the worse.

Drawn outside by the sound of her son’s cries, Abuya came out of the house with her two-year child held close to her breast. She turned to her husband, “What’s the matter?”

When no answer was forthcoming, she became scared. “Husband, please tell me what is wrong,” she cried.

Hussein looked at her for a brief moment. Then, he turned to Osman, “Son, tell us everything you saw at the cattle farm.”

Having gained his parents’ attention, Osman suddenly became animated. “Baba, I just got back from the farm. You know I woke up early today to go feed them…” Osman excitedly chattered on when Hussein had to interrupt him. He knew his son had a penchant for narration and could carry on for hours if given the chance.

He grasped hold of his son’s face and looked into his eyes. “It will be better now if you could just tell me what happened on the farm,” Hussein told him firmly.

“We lost three more cows. That’s what happened Baba,” Osman said with a glance at his mother’s stricken face.

“Oh, not again. We are losing them all, Hussein! What are we going to do?” Abuya gasped.

Hussein held up his hands, “Okay, calm down everybody,” he said. He waited for a beat and then continued “There is always a way out. It’s okay son. Stay with your mother while I go see Abdullah, our neighbor. We have to do something about this issue. I know you’re all scared.”

Transferring the baby to one arm, Abuya went to her son and held him with the other. “Go my husband, we will journey to find some water,” she said.

Abdullah was sitting on a mat outside his house lamenting the loss of his own livestock when Hussein arrived. Drought has become a serious issue in Bandarero.

As if they were not already finding it difficult to get water to grow crops but now, the drought was killing the remaining source of their income.

“How many have you lost so far Abdullah?” asked Hussein

Abdullah shook his head. He wondered where to begin from. “ My farm is not yielding due to the drought. I have lost a lot, my friend. I’m a man at the brink of failure,” he lamented.

Hussein knew they needed help and the faster they got it, the better. Whatever was causing drought does not look like it will let up. Tracing the source of their problem is a good place to start.

Some herders who could afford it had water brought to them from neighboring villages for their livestock and household. Those like Osman’s family who couldn’t afford it had to journey in search of water.

Walking along the dusty barren road, Osman along with his friends and their mothers carried their keg after going for days in search of water. On their return back to the village, something happened. One of the village girls Akinyi fainted as a result of fatigue. It was that hot on that particular day.

Taking charge of the situation, Abuya stroked the girl’s forehead. “Has this girl eaten any food at all today?” she asked. Although there was food insecurity, the women still did all they could to feed their children, the majority of whom are very malnourished already.

Makena ran to her daughter, the water they labored to get was been poured on her to revive her. “We could only get little Nyama choma this morning. Please, don’t judge me, the situation is bad already.”

Other children who gathered were asked to sit and rest, it was still quite a distance to Bandarero. There was little food ration left and the young ones in their midst were already crying for food. Osman and a few of the older children who understood the dire situation huddled together in hunger and fear.

Two days later, Osman and his parties got to the village. To their surprise, they saw his father and other villagers receiving packages from some strangers. Osman recognized that they were receiving help.

“I’m sure it’s okay because baba is there too,” he muttered to himself.

When Hussein caught sight of his wife and son, he ran to them. He took the water from each of them and dropped the kegs on the ground. “Come, help has come,” he pulled them along with him.

“Baba, who are these people?” Osman asked his excited father.

“They are from the big city, they said they’re from the International Rescue Committee. My son, they want to help us during this dry period.”

Osman was happy that their rescuers were also attending to the children not only their parents. He still needed to know why the village was always dry.

He walked to one of the strangers.  “Good afternoon sir. Thank you for the help but do you know why this is happening?”

One of his peers, 10-year-old Adimu, who had come to join them answered with enthusiasm “They said it’s climate change and that more will come.”

Osman looked at the gentleman for his opinion. The man nodded in sad affirmation. The little boy was heartbroken. “What about school? Will they also have enough food and water? How dry would it get?” Osman thought to himself.

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