This is an English language translation of a Facebook post penned by journalist Fitsum Berhane writing from Mekelle.
Fuel that had been rationed for taxi services in Mekelle has run out virtually stopping public transport in Mekelle. It is becoming normal to see the streets of Mekelle deserted these days. Streets that used to be flooded with people are now so empty that you can hear the sound of your own footstep. Let me share with you one of the most heart-breaking daily experiences.
I was standing by the road because I couldn’t find transport hoping to catch a rare taxi. An elderly woman carrying about 50 kg of flour on her back because she couldn’t find a taxi – passed by me, panting heavily. I was deeply disturbed by that sight and was wondering how I might help her when a friend of mine with a car stopped next to me and said: “Fitsum, let me give you a ride”. Quickly I said: “Thanks. Please, give that elderly woman a ride too”. He didn’t hesitate.
We pulled up alongside her and said: “Let’s give you a ride, mother”. It’s as though she had heard something incredible. Her face brightened. Breathing heavily from exhaustion she said, “Okay, my son”. I took the sack of flour from her back and put it in the car. The weight she had been carrying was too heavy even for me. She thanked and blessed me as she took her seat in the car. I asked: “Where’re you going?” She replied “Seb’aa Karie”. It is far away from where we picked her up. It is too far away to walk even for a young person without any additional weight. My friend said to her: “It’s far away. How did you think you could walk all the way carrying this much weight?” She replied: “I can’t complain. At least, I have something to eat. I’ve to be grateful”. When I told my friend, I had to get off halfway, he told me “no worries, I’ll drop her off at her place”.
It is becoming normal to witness such heart-breaking scenes in Mekelle. Only God knows how many people are perishing silently in their homes. Something that maybe those of you outside of Tigray may not fully comprehend is how difficult it is to witness things like this every day and not be able to do anything about it.
It breaks the spirit.