Hepburn's last journey was to Somalia, in September 1992. "I walked into a nightmare," she said. "I have seen famine in Ethiopia and Bangladesh, but I have seen nothing like this - so much worse than I could possibly have imagined. I wasn't prepared for this. It's so hard to talk about because it's unspeakable." Between the worst drought in history and a horrifying civil war that had destroyed the country; most of the population was starving to death. "There's nothing left," Hepburn said. "The cattle are dead, the crops are gone, whatever there was has been looted. Anarchy. It's a country without a government." It was the first time in history that a country had been held together purely by relief workers, from organizations such as UNICEF, Save the Children, and Care. But there were too few of them.
The mission was followed by press conferences in London, Geneva, Paris and numerous television appearances in the United States. These round of interviews intrigued the world. In all of them, she looked tired but otherwise healthy, betraying no hint of the fact that she had just 15 weeks to live.
Hepburn, soon after her return from Somalia, discovered she had developed cancer in her appendix, which spread to her colon and then to her stomach. While speaking in New York after her trip she said, "I'm filled with a rage at ourselves. I don't believe in collective guilt, but I do believe in collective responsibility." Hepburn didn't address her illness, instead she decided to spread word about the devastation that she witnessed in Somalia and encouraged others to reach out.
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