Derek Sciba ('00) | Broadcast Journalism
Parts of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia are facing one of the worst droughts in 60 years. More than 11 million people are desperately searching for food and clean water. Fields are depleted, and livestock are dying. Already, tens of thousands of people have starved to death, and many others are suffering acute malnutrition.
Thousands of families are leaving their homes in Somalia and traveling 300 miles or more - usually on foot - just to get food and water. They have no other choice but to leave.
To Derek Sciba ('00), these are not mere numbers - they are precious individuals, many of whom he has met.
Sciba is marketing director for World Concern, an international Christian relief ministry that responds to disasters, digs wells, educates people and provides skills for self-sustenance.
A graduate of ACU's Journalism and Mass Communication Department and former recipient of the Gutenberg Award, Sciba spent a decade as a TV news reporter before joining World Concern. He now travels the world documenting relief efforts and raising funds for the organization.
"Our clients are the world's poorest people," he says. "These are folks who have no other place to turn and have likely faced a life of oppression."
Sciba's current base of operation is Somalia, where he is seeing first hand the struggle of a people trying to find enough food and water just to survive one more day.
"I visited one community named Damajale, Kenya, last week that has been hit especially hard," he says. "It's a community of about 4,000 people, and one well serves as the only source of clean water. In the last couple of months, more than 2,000 Somali refugees have arrived there, looking for relief. The community tried to help, but the demand on the pump was simply too much. The pump broke, leaving the community with no source of clean water for 30 kilometers. I followed our water expert as he listened to the community and diagnosed the problem. Today the pump should be repaired, providing the community and the refugees with water once again."
Equipping struggling communities
Whenever possible, World Concern tries to address the needs of food and water by equipping local communities, rather than always trucking in containers of water or food.
"For example, we fix broken wells and increase the capacity of under-performing wells. This will help for months or years, instead of days," Sciba says. "For food, while some emergency feeding is required, we have successfully used vouchers among refugees in the past to buy food from local merchants. This provides stimulation to the local economy and greatly reduces security concerns. In all we do, we work with communities to learn about their problems, and together, we work to solve them in the most effective ways possible."
Sciba's job can be intense and sometimes perilous.
"Especially in a crisis, like after the Haiti earthquake, I will be working on and off 24 hours a day," he says. "I also travel a lot. I am married to a wonderful wife named Kathryn and have a beautiful 3-year-old daughter named Violet. It stinks being away from them."
The countries where World Concern works pose frequent dangers. "During my time in Chad, Northern Kenya, Somalia and other countries, I have been in areas where banditry and sometimes kidnapping happens," he says. "The governments of some of the countries are ruled by military juntas, or in the case of Somalia, there is no real government at all. I must take measured risks to do my job."
But Sciba has no doubt he is doing what God has called him to do.
"Jesus had a clear command for all of us, to care for the widows, orphans and vulnerable - to not leave someone alone bleeding on the side of the road, but to be filled with compassion, just as Christ was filled with compassion for the hurting. While we may not be able to stop this famine, we can save lives. It is the moral and right thing to do," he says.
"Some people are discussing if it is even right to help Somalia, a country that is home to piracy and all sorts of bad stuff. I challenge those who question whether to intervene to actually meet these families and look a starving child in the eye - and think that they care one bit about politics. They need food. They need water. We need to act to save lives, and also work hard to change the paradigm of instability and poverty that has made this country and in fact the entire Horn of Africa extremely vulnerable."
What can the ACU community do to help?
Sciba has some ideas:
- People don't understand the magnitude of the crisis, and how it is positioned to grow into a massive humanitarian catastrophe. Please pray. Petition God for rain and relief.
- World Concern needs help to save lives. We and other agencies on the front lines can only reach these families if we have funding. I would encourage you to donate online, at worldconcern.org/crisis, or by calling 866-530-LIFE. On average, a donation of $60 will help a family with food and water for a month.
- On our website, you will also see how you can set up a personal fundraising page. You can create a team and set a goal, tell your friends why you care, and begin raising money. If ACU were to set a goal of $10,000, $100,000 or whatever it may be, you could raise funds as a team to meet that goal.
- Also, be creative. Hold concerts. Have garage sales. Car washes on Judge Ely Boulevard. You could do Karaoke for a cause. I know in my case, people would probably donate not to hear me sing. The sky is the limit. Do as you are led.
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