Photo journal: The images that haunt me

Jon Warren recently spent nearly a month in Africa, documenting the ongoing food crisis and highlighting our work in the region. Upon returning home, he put this post together of some of his most memorable images that convey the tragic stories of people left at risk of starvation from an unrelenting drought and food crisis in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia.

Famine is unfathomably horrific. I'm not sure how else to describe the despair a mother like Gaalo feels as she cradles a son, Khaleed, worried that he will die like two of her children already have. We don't want to hear about it; we don't want to look at pictures. But this drought is happening to real people. And the only reason I photograph is because I know some people have the heart to make a difference.

Home. A series of sticks stuck into the ground, with cloth scraps tied on. Shaped like my backpacking tent -- but not for weekend use in the mountains only. Whole families have to live like this.

The environment doesn't help. Gusting sand + blistering heat = misery.

"I have experienced a lot of hunger," says, Anab, 10, "not eating for a whole day. I haven’t been able to go to school. I lost all my energy. I can’t play." But what worries her most is how hunger affected her little sister. "When I saw my little sister crying from hunger, I started to cry myself."

Hadija, 28, already has to carry the burden of raising seven children during a time of famine. She and eldest daughter, Nurto, 10 (at right), are able to earn a little by hauling garbage away for families in nearby Burtinle city. But mostly she survives by begging.

Despair leads to desperate actions, like fighting when food finally shows up, even if it means getting bashed in the head.

Layla's son, Zam Zam, is critically malnourished. Layla says, "I don't sleep enough because I am so worried. I wake up in the night and give drink (breastfeeding) to the baby."

The sad truth is that so many are dying. Three-year-old Ibrahim Harett was too weak to survive the 10-day trek from Somalia. He's the third child buried this day in this little graveyard.

Zam Zam's name means "pure water." That's one of the ways World Vision is fighting the drought. Besides wells and catchment dams, World Vision is also trucking clean, pure water to 19 communities on the Somali border.

And weighing and measuring clinics are helping staff and parents identify which children need help immediately.

World Vision staff are also delivering food and checking up directly on sponsored children.

It was as if God Himself had painted this reminder on a doorway in Dadaab, Kenya: We do this because God is love!

All photos ©2011 Jon Warren/World Vision

See Jon's last photo blogs: Photo journal: 24 hours in Somalia and Scenes from a Kenyan refugee camp

Help now

or text "FAMINE"' to"20222" to give a $10 donation


    I agree. I'm surprised that some friends I've spoken with say they aren't aware of sponsoring a child. I would LOVE to get our neighborhood to get on board. Just getting $1.00 a month from 35 house holds can make a world of difference. If EVERY subdivision got on board we could REALLY MAKE A CHANGE. It's THAT SIMPLE!!! :-D

    We just signed up to sponsor a 6 yr old girl in Ethiopia. VERY EXCITED to hear from her and see what things they are needing where she is. I don't know yet just where she is, so I don't know the condition of the area where she's at. What a Blessing to make a difference.

    Excellent photos Jon! Strong images with thought provoking captions. They capture the reality that is the field.

    Thank for sharing. These photos break my heart. Thank you to World Vision for taking the donations we send and giving life and love.

    It is so heartbreaking to see the little children suffer so. How many of us can afford to skip that $15-$20 lunch and give it so that these children may be spared?

    Thank-you for reminding us again in such a powerful way that until all of us are free, none of us are free. We have sponsored and given to World Vision for almost 25 years. My question is, what are fellow South Africans doing to help their brothers and sisters? CK

    I am a student journalist and am doing a piece on Africa. My goal is to spread awareness of how easy it is to change a life. Your pictures are very powerful and I was wondering if I may be allowed to use one for my article. Thanks so much for your time and consideration.

    Just sent you an email, Grace, about your request to use some photos. Thanks for your interest.

    Thanks for showing the world the result of the civil war and famine, a man created disaster. Please help with out string attached. Mr Jon Warren your interview from trip to Somalia by journalist/radio host Dick Gordan,you were asked where is the God of these suffering Somali People?. You answered "I don't know" which is fine, But, I do know that these People have a strong faith, and no matter how bad their conditions would be, they would not trade their faith with a loaf of bread/bottle of water sent by worlvision or alike.

    Leave a Comment

    The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.