today i went to a meeting to establish the afar nz friendship society. needless to say, i'd never heard of the afar people until i got the invitation, hence the links to help you out if you're in the same situation. the afar people come from africa, a nomadic tribe that lives in ethiopia, djibouti & eritrea.
there are 8 afar families living in hamilton, so a pretty small community. they are all refugees. they are concerned about their families back in africa, many of whom are living on the edge of starvation due to drought. this is often an issue in refugee resettlement: that it is very hard to settle when you have family or friends living in extremely difficult conditions that you can do little to alleviate. it's very difficult to enjoy the good things in life, when you know those good things are absent for the ones you love.
the other thing that struck me was the fact that so little is known about this tribe. like the western sahara, this is a part of the world that gets little coverage. there are parts of the world that get continous coverage when a disaster happens, but in areas like this where the devastation is slow but sure, we get very little news. but even if we did get news, would we really care? as moz pointed out in his comment here, there are only so many things that the human mind can cope with, only so many tragedies we can process.
which makes me wonder, who gets to decide which crisis or which tragedy should be brought to worldwide attention? based on what criteria? and for a people like the afar, how can you get some of that attention for yourself, when your people are dying too and there seems to be little hope for improvement?
i guess a friendship society is a good way to raise awareness. at least there were a bunch of people there today who now know some things that they didn't know before. i hope the thing takes off here in hamilton, and that these people are able to do some effective fundraising (which appears to be one of their main aims) for the people back in africa.