And There are Floods in Djibouti

I am tired.

The ‘luminous foundation’ that makes television people look so pretty can’t hide the shadows under my eyes. After a delightful Easter weekend my head aches from the traffic on the highway getting home; from listening to The Clash full blast to pass the time; from Easter candy that looks so pretty in the bowl and feels so rotten in my stomach (because I am who I am and I overindulged.) It’s an Easter Hangover – but not the sort you are supposed to have where the glory of Easter moves into the Monday beyond.

I have my head full of all kinds of petty, so hard to get rid of petty. I feel exiled and frustrated and full of – I’ll say it – first world problems.

And then I remember there are floods in Djibouti. A place where it doesn’t rain — one of the hottest places on earth. Djibouti – a country that is often forgotten when naming countries in the African continent. Djibouti – where poverty abounds and most could care less.

Djibouti – where floods, even small ones, cause massive problems.

English: Mosque in Djibouti city, January 2008

“When there is no rain for so long, drainage clogs and people set up homes in precarious places, lulled into security. We had been in Djibouti less than four months when the last flood came through and killed more than 500 people in 2004. That year we lived on the upper level of a duplex and stood with our landlord’s family downstairs, watching the water rise more than three feet inside their house. This flood isn’t as massively catastrophic, but to people who have lost everything, there is no difference.” From Djibouti Jones

I need my ‘floods in Djibouti’ moments. They bring me back to reality. They remind me to pray. They push me to flush narcissism down the toilet. They tell me this world is big and God is bigger – and it matters to him that there are floods in Djibouti. It matters to him that people who have nothing are losing even more. These moments remind me that the circles under my eyes are merely circles – that I will get a good night sleep and they will go away.

That my energy and attention had best be spent on finding my Djibouti, finding those in my area that the floods of life have overwhelmed.

“This is the week of Easter, this is the week of miracles and resurrection. For many in Djibouti, this is a week of loss and grief. Pray for those who have lost so much. May God have mercy.” Rachel Pieh Jones

Blogger’s Note: If you haven’t already made your way over to Djibouti Jones – I urge you to do so. Rachel Pieh Jones and her husband have lived in Djibouti for over 12 years and I believe her perspective on life and faith will resonate with readers of Communicating Across Boundaries. She views the world through a much-needed cross-cultural lens. More importantly she communicates this view through all her writing.

7 thoughts on “And There are Floods in Djibouti

  1. I remember as a kid reading a short story which was a dystopian/utopian novel called “Emergency!” which described a society which created a disaster each year, because they realized the benefits that disasters bring to the community (that is, it pulls people together, gets folks to drop pettiness, brings focus around what’s important, etc.). These planned disasters became a sort of holiday: a national spectacle in the sense that folks began to gather on the day of the planned disaster around their radios and TVs to get the full media coverage. Families would get together and host parties and potluck dinners around the TV, waiting for the drama to begin and the media coverage to detail the gruesome statistics/medical needs/casualties/etc. Of course the twist in the plot came one year in which on the set date at a specific time, all the TVs blew up–and the damage was done to those least expecting it: the spectators.

    Sometimes, I feel like the spectator in this story: the distance between myself and the reality back ‘home’ seems too great, but the emotional impact of hearing about those disasters in places I love (the landslides, the war, the earthquake, etc.) is devastating. I feel helpless, shaken, wounded. And a little ridiculous from my privileged position in my comfortable home in Chicago.


    1. Your last paragraph completely resonated with me. One of my readers said a friend said to her “You can’t cry every time a cow dies in Pakistan!” but maybe we can…..or at least we want to for a time. I would challenge the word ridiculous – I think we are given these experiences and emotions, compassion, care, anger at what is going on for a reason and despite the comfort we now live in somehow in eternity it matters…perhaps I’m delusional but that’s my hope.


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