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Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Adnan Ansari, IRUSA’s vice president of programs, sends final thoughts from the field on his experience in East Africa.

While I wait at Schiphol, Amsterdam for my flight back to the U.S., recollections from my visit to East Africa, especially Somalia, keep coming back to me. The grief and misery there are by far the worst I have ever seen. We cannot let these people and their distress be forgotten.

Allowing fellow humans to live in these conditions in the 21st century, while we remain disengaged bystanders, is a failure for all. We can conveniently blame this crisis on famine caused by the drought in East Africa, but we need to remind ourselves that we saw the same situation in the region in 1984 and many such incidences have occurred in other parts of the world in the previous century. It is equally easy to place responsibility on the ongoing civil conflict in the country, but we need to keep in mind that these social problems have continued for the last two decades while the world just shrugged its shoulders. 

There is no short-term solution for the current problems of the suffering population. However, efforts need to be made without delay to end the tribulations, facilitate the recovery, and assure the mitigation of such a crisis, not only in East Africa, but wherever a crisis like this may arise. 

While we consider the pursuit of happiness to be our right, life has become a privilege to many, and liberty is an unknown concept.

To donate to IRUSA’s efforts for East Africa, click here.