The hottest place on Earth | 60 Minutes Australia

it's unbearably hot uncomfortably bubbly

and unbelievably spectacular

welcome to the ethiopian desert to one

of the harshest most inhospitable places

imaginable this is where the afar nomads

live and our first encounter with them

is a tense one these men are still

fighting rather people around the afar

people are under threat including from

nearby warring tribes so assuring these

men with friend not foe is important so

this time of day

these men are out patrolling they're

making sure their village is protected a

few hundred kilometers further on and

we're much closer to finding what we've

come for

in these parts Valerie browning has an

almost mythical presence out of the

shimmering haze that dazzle of bright

orange and blue is very real Valerie's a

59 year old Australian woman with the

energy of a teenager and the heart of a

set it is been quite a journey

welcome to welcome to where we are who

we are

thank you so much home for the afar

nomads is anywhere within this 500

kilometer swath of northern Ethiopia

bordered by Djibouti and Eritrea and for

the last 25 years this land has also

been Valerie Browning's home I'd love to

have been born in Lima I'd love to have

been born in living in enough our house

yeah I think they have a great life I

really do


where Valerie sees prosperity and hope

at first all I see is poverty and the

glint but the small a group she runs is

helping save the afar people by trying

to conquer the worst of third world

conditions the greatest killers enough

are our malaria differently and then of

course tuberculosis diarrhea pneumonia

these are all big killers measles is a

killer how many children died one in

three die before they reach the age of

five one in three

one in three the basics we take for

granted can never be guaranteed it's

often days between a solid meal and the

water we wouldn't let our animals drink

it I wanted to ask you about this what

the hell is this this is their drinking

water Michael and this is it I mean they

don't have another water and as they say

it gives what they say buggy a syrup

which is terrific pain in the stomach I

have bloody diarrhea from it just a tool

yeah well they've got nothing else

they've got nothing else


and when you think it can't get any

tougher remember the hate


just--how anything or anyone survives

out here is beyond me it's just so hot

at times it's hard to breathe for a soft

westerner like me I reckon I'd be lucky

to last a day on my own

on a hot day the temperature soars to 60

degrees 50 believe it or not is about

average this time of year and they call

that a fine day you can see why the afar

are regarded as the greatest survivors

no other people live in such constant

extreme heat anywhere on earth the calm

scene winds when they hit it's like you

know it's burning the whole face it's

burning everything it's like a furnace

it is it's like a furnace yes

so what's called to you 30s okay but

below 30 is horrible Ethiopia is about

as far away as you can get from where

Valerie grew up Armidale Ian country New

South Wales but in the early 70s a

friend convinced this young and naive

nurse to go and help the poor in

northern Africa over the next decade she

worked all over the region but it was

the plight of the afar nomads which

touched her most and it still does


are you worried about the future of the

earth are people desperately worried

I think they are for the world and

expendable people after are on that list

of becoming extinct

they must break your heart it does and

that's the Oh that's a main reason to

fight on we must fight on faster and

harder because we must win they must not

become extinct no one's exactly sure but

there are about a million of far nomads

their worldly possessions fit easily on

the back of a camel their simple houses

dot the landscape they'll be kind enough

to let us have a look inside their house

around here

Valerie's no outsider know missionary or

Western do good and this which are made

into a dome shape and tied together

she's well and truly embraced the afar

people and their way of life

this is what you like your favorite I

love coming off too much I don't know

when to stop

it's your indulgence and where there's a

fire there's always a friend and

hospitality to be found it doesn't get

any better for Valerie than this the

great luxury of camel's milk and to be

offered a taste is an honor

you don't refuse literally fresh off our


you've done it you got it on the nose

there's one thing that strikes you about

the effect for all their struggle to

survive out here they remain a happy

proud race of people and when the word

goes out Valerie's got some guests in

town they come from everywhere to

celebrate it's here we meet Ismael a

fine dancer and Belle's husband for the

last 20 years

she does some amazing work out there

that we've seen yes yes you know whole

her life is work all her life to do

something good and this will be nursing

truth is ismail and valerie both do good

work this muslim man and christian woman

make quite a team over the years their

organization the afar pastoral

development association has trained over

800 local teachers nurses

and community workers and while its run

on next to nothing even out here in the

middle of nowhere

the financial crisis has hit hard we're

really up against the wall at the moment

you despondent by that or do you have

hope you cannot be despondent if you're

despondent then then you know that's

where life finishes uncle hai this

family dad mum the toddler son and baby

daughter have walked for days to find

valerie she's their only hope because

their baby is dying

three point but at eight months old the

babies should be two or three times this

weight valerie organizers some medicine

but more importantly some food it's good

it's excellent stuff she's taking it

she's in 2009 to see a baby so close to

death because of a lack of food should

make us all angry but I just feel


widest pond is so upsetting to save it

you're right in there you deal with it

straight away

yeah because we've got it all the time I

mean as I said to you the other day

you don't really in the west know what

is deaf we know it daily while she

spends much of her time looking after

the afar she's also got another role mum

rum 'add is Valerie and is males very

active seven-year-old son while on the

other side of the world the central

coast of New South Wales is there 18

year old daughter Asia I miss my parents

the people there especially my friends

if we're thinking about a graph or

graphing it earlier this year Valerie

and Ismail made a tough call

deciding Asia should leave Ethiopia and

finish her high school education in

Australia hi mum just wanted to say that

I really miss you and I hope Maria's

going well the separation has been

painful for everyone especially mother

and daughter is there seriously mom so

we were only too pleased to play video

postman hi to everyone especially Modena

and rummy man iodine eats in another

world isn't she thank you I hope to see

you soon love you guys bye wow what a

thing you brought me my goodness it

really stops you still to think of your

own reality like that I mean I'm rushing

today do you speak to the Health Bureau

to speak to the government and there's

my daughter in front of me Wow

for a woman who gives so much to the

afar people it's touching to see Valerie

browning take a brief moment to think

about her own family not that you'd ever

hear any regret or complain about what

she's given up over the years doing your

work here means incredible sacrifice on

your behalf doesn't it no I don't agree

that a lot of sacrifice no not at all

it's a pleasure and an absolute

privilege I'm gonna say I think I've got

a better life than you have you and your

children and your wife okay

and I wish for you that you were here so

you think I'd find peace and happiness

out here absolutely

look I've learnt what is poverty I've

learned what is extreme difficulty you

didn't learn that you haven't had that

lesson and you're deprived because of

that my dream is maybe a little five six

seven goats me and the goats and that's

it that's what I really want but not

anytime soon she's too busy to slow down

as we parted Valerie browning was

loading medicine onto a cranky camel and

heading out to a remote afar village a

day-long Trek on foot in the unbearable

heat it was just no stopping this

wonderful book I can do as fast as any

man I can do as fast as anybody and I

enjoy it I can do 50 60 kilometres a day

and I'm all right 50 or 60 kilometres a

day yeah 1012 hours walk a day is good

who knows I might die tomorrow we can't

be predicting anything but I accept that


but I hope I clean up a few messes in

the office before I don't it'll work to

do you hello

I'm Liz Hayes thanks for watching to

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