Out of a clear blue sky…it rained mortars

I’m sure you have made plans, what to do in certain situations, how you would react if you find yourself caught up an attack. Where to run, where to hide, who to call. Mike Tyson the legendary American boxer famously said ‘Everyone has a plan until they get a punch in the face’. In another words you may have a plan but it never happens like you thought it would do.

It was mid-week in the highlands of Ethiopia in a small village of mud huts. There was no road or electricity. Just a few homesteads from where people walked every day to their tiny farm plots or where old men or young children drive their cattle into the hills to find fresh grass. Suddenly there was an ear splitting explosion then another and another. People stopped where they were looking in disbelief, nothing like this had ever been heard or seen before. The realisation quickly dawns, those are bodies they can see. That dull clack, clack, clack must be coming from a semi-automatic rifle. Everybody who can, runs. Mothers grab babies, fathers search for toddlers but run they must, people scatter in every direction. Then there is the screaming of the injured and dying. That was never in any plan it is sickening and disorientating. People move as quickly as they can with those around them, for hours, praying they will not run into whoever has done this.

The Ethiopian highlands are surprisingly highly populated and so people very quickly come across others also running for their lives. By night fall there are 50 people huddling together and traumatised, terrified with what the night will bring in the bush. Too frightened to light a fire for fear of attracting attention. The next day they press on exhausted through lack of sleep and weak from no food. There is almost constant crying from babies and children. The mass of people begins to stretch out for miles with the old and weak falling behind. The route is up and down mountain tracks as far away from main roads as they can get. People are worried about what might be lying in wait on metalled roads. Eventually sheer desperation for food and shelter means people risk going to the nearest town. The group now consist of people who know the way. The sight that meets their eyes is beyond belief, there are hundreds of thousands of people like them driven out and now desperate. The noise of misery compounds the desperation which is then fuelled by the stench. The town is overwhelmed. There is no food and little shelter hope begins to drain away and all the time the threat of more barbarity.

I’ve never written like this before and I’ve kept the location and ethnic grouping vague to protect different ethnicities but this is the reality for people like you and me who, but for birth, might be caught up in what is happening. It is the story and pictures that have emerged from an area that Action Ethiopia was about to start work in. We are re-evaluating what we can do but we promise to help people rehabilitate their farms and livelihood. It is for others to bring food relief on the scale required and to broker peace.

We will continue with our plans in this area. There are signs of hope as the violence has subsided and some people are returning.

Can you help with a gift of £13, £17 or £29? your generosity will make a huge difference. This might take time but I will report back on what has been achieved and how your gift has brought back a life to people who but for history are very like 

A little goes a long way – Please consider a gift.

Your gift will change the lives of people in the Ethiopian Highlands.