So it won’t be Santa Claus and the celebrations we enjoy at home at this time of the year that will be on people’s minds in Gedo. Like Joseph and Mary, families here will be on the move, forced to leave their homesteads, their lives on the edge with their animals dead, their harvests withered, and their children severely malnourished.
As thousands of desperate families seek refuge in internally displace people’s camps over the coming weeks, they will receive support from Trocaire staff, and the staff of our partners. They will be met with compassion and kindness, the essence of Christmas.
This lifeline will, in effect, be extended from every county in Ireland, thanks to the ongoing support for Trócaire’s work from the Irish people. It really does mean a lot.
For me it feels right to be part of this story. I’m content to be here. It feels like a Christmas story in some ways. I have been working for Trócaire in Africa and Asia for 14 years and it is one of the great privileges of my life to be working for the agency, on behalf of the people of Ireland.
Of course, I’ll miss home in Dublin and the Christmas dinner in my parent’s house, the craic, the family, a warm fire on a cold night! Who knows maybe next year. But I hope that doing this work, day in-day out, is making a small difference. Somalia is an important place to be. We need to be here with the poorest of the poor, those on the edge of the world.
For Christmas day itself I will be back in Nairobi in Kenya where my wife and children live. The Irish Ambassador will host the Irish in her house for the traditional Christmas Carol event. I will phone home and connect with my family.
We will have my wife’s Kenyan family over on Christmas day. I’ll do all the things that I’m used to doing at home. I’ll put up the tree, go to Midnight Mass, watch ‘It’s a wonderful life’ and play Monopoly. I’ll cook the turkey, make lovely stuffing as my Ma taught me, and hope that my Kenyan family enjoy my western style Christmas ritual. We’ll probably eat outside. It will most likely be a warm day.
But once Christmas is over it will be back to leading the dedicated Trócaire team in Somalia. I will be so thankful for all that I have, and hope that next year will bring something better to those that I am privileged to work with here.