Dining with Dadaab designed for refugee-camp experience

Michael McKay

The Dadaab refugee camp on the

Kenya-Somalia border is designed to hold 90,000 displaced people,

and it now holds close to 440,000 people.

The staff of Bates-Runner and McLean

halls are doing their part to raise awareness of this issue with a

program called Dining with Dadaab.

Those who sign up to participate in

Dining with Dadaab, which is Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, will

receive food rations similar to those given to people living in the

refugee camp.  

Jeff Long, residence hall director

for Bates and McLean halls, said the rations would not contain

fruits, vegetables or meat.

“What we want to do is replicate as

much as possible, obviously it’s impossible to replicate the

situation, but as far as the food part of it, replicate as closely

as possible what these individuals receive and how little they

actually get,” Long said.

Long said the goal of the program is

to raise awareness, and that any amount of participation in the

program would teach attendants about the situation in


“Obviously we’d love it for

individuals to take the challenge to try to only eat that for three

days,” Long said. “I think even if somebody comes to our station

where we are distributing food, gets that allotment, and then comes

to the cafeteria to get breakfast, you’re still seeing a stark

contrast in what’s available to you than these individuals are

getting over there.

“So there’s still some learning

going on there.”

Ft. Worth senior Aida Mehmedovic is

signed up to participate in Dining with Dadaab and said she is

planning on only eating the rations for those three


Mehmedovic said she was nervous

because the program allows her to experience something that doesn’t

happen to most Americans.

“We’re so used to having anything we

want to eat right there in front of us,” she said.

Mehmedovic said she visited Africa

this past summer. While the food was different, it was still

prepared for them.

“I didn’t fully get that experience

there,” Mehmedovic said

Virgie senior Erin Taylor, a

resident assistant in Bates, said participation was open to


“Anybody on campus or in the

community can register, its not even just strictly campus,” Taylor


Students interested in signing up

with Dining with Dadaab can register from the housing section of

the WKU website. There will be a final event on Wednesday on the

Bates Lawn at a time that has yet to be decided. A film about the

famine in East Africa will be shown and students who participated

in the event will speak about their experience.