Islamic Relief’s Emerging Markets Fundraising Coordinator, Nasrullah Tahir, recently travelled to Kenya, visiting the largest refugee camp in the Dadaab region. This is the second part of a blog series, detailing his experiences in the field.

One of my most memorable experiences in Kenya was when I met a lady who had just arrived to collect water from a borehole that was constructed by Islamic Relief for the local community, around 40km from Dadaab in Kamuthe village.

Islamic Relief takes great care and pride in constructing boreholes and other water solutions for vulnerable communities. In Kenya, a license is first sought from the Water Resource Management Authority, followed by an environmental impact assessment, which is conducted on their building site and the area.

Once approved, the borehole is dug and the water is tested to make sure it is safe for human consumption. The final step is to install a generator to pump the water from such a depth, install a water tank, which can store 36,000 cubic metres of water and build water kiosks and troughs.

Upon arriving, she appeared to be so happy and her smile was incredibly infectious. When asked: ‘Why are you so happy?’ She replied: ‘Before, when I had to collect water it took me 10 hours, but now it only takes 4 hours.’

A lot of individuals from far off villages relied solely on livestock and water was therefore a necessity. Far too many people were walking 30 km a day and the vast majority would leave their houses at 5am in the morning and would return home, tired and weary at 1pm.

For some women, the journey was so long and hard, that they would have no choice but to stay overnight and make the journey back home the next day. The overnight stay in unfamiliar territory would sometimes put their lives at risk. However our water project ensured that these women did not have to take such extreme measures to access water, a basic human right.

When meeting the local people in Dadaab and the refugee camp, it was evident that most of the refugees were Muslim. The presence of Islamic Relief aid workers gave them great hope and joy, with many of them their amazement and thanks from around the world for supporting them.

When asked what message they would like to give to the people that had donated, they replied: ‘Please thank the people, let them know we are praying for them.’

Very often, people misunderstand the role of an aid worker and envision them as living a life of luxury at the expense of hardworking donors. The reality, as is often the case, is far different. In Dadaab, the staff worked throughout the day and only sleeping, provided a little respite, during the night.

Many of them leave their families for the whole week in order to be at the service of others and trust in God to look after their loved ones while they are away.

Their dedication and sheer willpower was phenomenal. Faith, hope and a relentless desire to make a difference, motivated the aid workers to go far beyond what was required of them.

To support Islamic Relief’s East Africa crisis appeal, donate here:

Nasrullah Tahir is a fundraiser with Islamic Relief’s Emerging Markets division. @nasrullahtahir