A Young Boy’s Journey Across 100 Barren Miles of East Africa

For weeks, Molit walked; his thin body growing thinner. As the miles dragged on, his feet burned with pain. Then he fell ill. His mother somehow kept the family together, moving forward to safety.

For weeks, Molit walked; his thin body growing thinner. As the miles dragged on, his feet burned with pain. Then he fell ill. His mother somehow kept the family together, moving forward to safety.

Molit isn’t clear on the number of days it took him to walk to safety in Kenya. He thinks his journey was 26 days. But it felt like forever.

Every day, the 8-year-old boy scuffed barefoot through the burning sand, with the relentless sun on his head. His calloused feet were no match for the acacia thorns that littered the ground.

“The sand was hot,” he says, recalling his journey. “My sisters and brothers were also finding it hard to walk. We were very hungry at home in our village. There was not enough food. The rains did not come. Nothing was growing. It was the fault of the drought.”

But he had no choice. When the well dried up in his village in Somalia, his mom, Ambio, tied his 2-year-old brother to her back and, along with Molit’s father and his seven siblings, started to walk in the direction of a new life.

“We had to go,” Ambio says. “We could not live there anymore. All our crops were dead. We lost everything. Our home will no longer be there if we return.”

She pauses, then adds “I am so exhausted. I carried my baby all the way.”

For most of the families fleeing the drought, a 100 miles of baked, unforgiving earth stands between them and refuge. The distance they have to cover is equal to nearly four consecutive marathons. They do this while eating and drinking almost nothing.

Long stretches passed in silence, each member of the family alone with their thoughts. Molit thought about the hard ground and pounding sun.

But what really bothered him was the thought of the friends he’d left behind. He worried about them. There was no food in the village. What, he wondered, would they eat?

When Molit arrived at the camp, his feet were calloused and in bad shape. He was exhausted but thankful he made it. Some children die in route. Others arrive a shadow of their former self, and barely hanging onto life.

Millions of people, most of them innocent children, are at risk in drought-stricken East Africa – at least until the rains come in about 100 days.

Save the Children is working around the clock to help children and families in East Africa. You can help children survive the drought by donating a dollar a day for 100 days.

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