Our driver skillfully weaved our faithful four-door pickup truck through traffic, narrowly escaping collision with potholes, people and goats. He pointedto an alley between two blown up buildings and said, “that is where the helicopter went down over 20 years ago.” He was referring to the U.S. military chopper that was made famous in the movie ‘Black Hawk Down’. The charred remains are still there, now overgrown with shrubs and bushes. We were in the midst of the Bakara market. An area of Mogadishu that only a few months ago was a hub of activity for Al-Shabaab. We were told that they were still in operation there, but had integrated themselves among the people and resorted to guerilla tactics. Our team of seven security, outfitted in camouflage fatigues an AK-47s, looked especially tense as the head security officer sternly warned us not to roll down our darkly tinted windows. Bullets, kidnappings, and hand grenades were among the top concerns.
The blown up and perilously dangerous city of Mogadishu is strikingly beautiful in a strange kind of way. The danger is what has almost entirely prevented any sustainable development work from taking place in the past two decades.
We understand the risk of working in this environment. But the risk is greatly overshadowed by the immense reward of bringing life and hope to our Somali brothers and sisters who are in great need of it. It is to see the mother’s eyes light up when she finds out that her baby is going to live. That is what it is all about. And that is worth any risk.
-Benjamin Church on Arc Solution’s Recon Trip to Mogadishu 9.20.12