Ever Been Dumpster Diving?

Well, imagine thousands upon thousands diving into a massive city dump, which holds the trash of about 4-million, all at once! Is it hard to even conjure up such an image? Well, that’s the stark reality of life in Ethiopia’s capital city Addis Ababa (Ababba or Abeba) or many! Though officials don’t like letting stories like these get out, again, it’s reality! Journalists and photographers have noted being trailed and followed through Addis by officials for sharing stories and images about this issue. But, someone has to say something and that’s what I’m doing. Now that I know, how could I not share? How could I not be a voice? How could I not raise awareness?

The gut-wrenching level of destitution is too life changing to keep quiet about. So, it is as an advocate for Korah that I share these things. I could make this a long story but I won’t. To keep it short and to the point, I offer an aerial shot of Korah and its surroundings and a few comments to go along with it.

(Click on the image to make it larger.)

As you can see, to the far left, Korah sits atop a pretty steep hill. Just below it runs the Akaki River. This river is littered with filth and refuse but it is the water that Korah has access to and therefore drinks; it is also the water they bathe in (most of them do this once a year). Then, to the right of Korah on the map, you see the city dump. Notice that it is almost the same size as Korah. Korah backs right up against the dump. So, EVERY day the people of Korah, especially the children, hunt through the city’s trash heaps (keep in mind that after this, they can’t and don’t just go take baths but if they do want to get cleaned, they all head to the Akaki).

When I went into Korah, many of the young kids had gathered foods from the dump and were not only eating them but also trying to sell them. This is the only way many of them can survive and it is the only form of “making a living” (literally!) that they know. In government reports, the officials refer to these people as “scavengers”. As one official has said: “…we will never completely prevent the scavengers to scratch through the waste in search of something they can eat or sell.” Several years back, the government also noted that a great many of the medical facilities in Addis do not follow disposal rules and discard of their wastes via regular trash. Many of the “scavengers” then, are exposed to disease-ridden items as they hunt. What was supposed to be burnt in incinerators thus, ends up making contact with the people of Korah. (*Note that the landfill is in an area also referred to as Repi and so, some of the documents refer to these “scavengers” as the people of Repi, although they are mostly & actually from Korah.)

Recently, the Ethiopian landfill has been recognized by other countries as a hazard area. Indeed, places like Copenhagen are worried about the threat that this city dump presents for the ozone. Thus, talks have ensued about the possibility of Copenhagen helping fund the transformation of the landfill to make it more eco-friendly. If this is the case, how will the residents of Korah respond? Or better yet, how will they survive? Chances are, they will be banned from a newly renovated landfill and thus, their only source of food will be taken from them. Or, will they just find more ways to get into the landfill despite the changes? It is hard to say what will happen but it is not hard to imagine what might take place. The goal of “Help Korah” is not to fight to keep the landfill open so the people can remain “scavengers” but rather to start right now, making a positive difference in this community so that they can have a life where even their most basic needs are met. I beg you on behalf of Korah, please, help raise awareness and resources. Please, be a voice and make a positive change in this downtrodden community! You can start by joining the awareness team where you will be given some VERY simple tools to start being a voice. Then, you can help with the “Tweet for Korah” campaign on 1.18.10. Also, join our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter. I know these are all little things but they are a start. Besides, if hundreds or thousands or millions of people took just these little steps, it would, in all actuality, be a HUGE step in Helping Korah.

(This article has also been added to the “Help Korah” website at: HelpKorah.Blogspot.com)

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