News / USA

Somali-Americans Help Drought Victims

Minnesotans raise more than $300,000 for famine relief

Somali-Americans in Minnesota at a car washing fundraiser to help Somali drought victims.
Somali-Americans in Minnesota at a car washing fundraiser to help Somali drought victims.

Multimedia

Audio
Faiza Elmasry

Minnesota is home to the largest Somali population in the United States and, as drought and famine take a devastating toll on their homeland, Somali immigrants are taking action to help victims back home.

As she watches televised images of starving Somali mothers and children, Fatima Abdi, 19, remembers her mother’s stories about the country’s 1992 famine. “When I was being born, my Mom had to go through all of that. One year after the war happened, my family was fleeing when my Mom was pregnant.”

Abdi’s family settled in Minnesota, where she’s now a college student. When her friend suggested a fundraiser to help the famine victims, they started brainstorming and recruiting other young people in the community.

“I called people, contacted people on Facebook, e-mails, talked to all of my friends, neighbors and let them know what was going on, give them ideas," says Zahra Farah, Abdi's friend. "There are so many ideas out there; a picnic, a carwash, knocking on doors, doing a walk. We put these ideas on the table, thinking what we can do for our people who are dying over there.”

The best idea, Abdi says, was a bake sale. “We baked traditional cookies. We sold drinks, doughnuts, cupcakes.”

And they made more money than they expected.

“Our goal was $600 and we went over it. We raised $627.”

Abdi and Farah donated the money to the American Refugee Committee (ARC), an international humanitarian organization based in Minneapolis.

“A lot of young people are very adamant on doing as many things as quick as possible,” says Shukri Abdinur, a program assistant with ARC. “Our whole community is actually coming together. We had the masjids that are involved in fundraising. The younger kids, the students are also involved in fundraising. We have carwashes. They are very motivated in doing it.”

And, she says, there’s been a gratifying response from outside the Somali-American community.

“Our non-Somali neighbors also definitely contributed in bringing their cars to carwashes. People call in everyday to also donate money and gifts and different types of funding.”

So far, the Minnesotans have raised more than $300,000, according to Said Sheik-Abdi, ARC’s program manager for Somalia. He says the organization began working with the Somali community in Minnesota and all over the United States two years ago. It just launched a relief campaign in cooperation with Somali-Americans to develop fund-raising efforts and provide a secure way to send humanitarian aid back home.

“We did food distribution. We did distribute non-food items," says Sheik-Abdi. "And it’s not all about food. It’s about shelter, clear water, it’s about the health, it’s about providing security for those people who come to Mogadishu."

Sheik-Abdi says the situation in Somalia today is worse than it was during the 1992 famine because the country has not had a functioning government for the last 20 years. Very few humanitarian organizations have been able to work inside Somalia. In addition, many of the areas hardest-hit by drought and famine are controlled by al-Shabab, a militant group the U.S. government considers a terrorist organization. That’s challenging, admits Sheik-Abdi, but he says ARC is doing everything possible to make sure the famine relief doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

“We’re working inside Somalia where the African Union troops are. So we’re not working in the area of al-Shabab. We have our staff on the ground who are directly providing the service to the people who really need assistance. We have Somali-Americans who know their community, who have skills and have connections, helping us to make sure that the food reaches to the right people.”

That’s ARC’s immediate relief plan. Sheik-Abdi says there is also a long-term strategy for Somalia.

“In the month of October, the Somali people, those in the south-central area, expect to have rain. If these people who are internally displaced wanted to go back and do some farming, then we’ll help them do that," he says. "We’re working with local agricultural partners to make sure that this doesn’t happen ever again, and if it happens, how to quickly respond. Because in the south-central area, there are two rivers, there's enough water there. So how can we reserve water and use it when there is drought or there is no rain.”

The goals of the American Refugee Committee in Somalia are the same as in the other countries where it works. But Said Skeik-Abdi says the vital involvement of Somali-Americans gives this effort a special meaning.

You May Like

Thousands of Ethiopian Israelis Rally Against Racism

PM Netanyahu says he will meet Damas Pakada, the Ethiopia-born Israeli soldier who was filmed being beaten by two policemen More

Ten Migrants Drown in Mediterranean, 4,800 Rescued

All of those rescued are being ferried to Italian ports, with some arriving on Italy's southernmost island, Lampedusa, and others taken to Sicily and Calabria More

HRW: Saudis Using US Cluster Bombs in Yemen

Human Rights Watch says photographs, video and other evidence have emerged indicating cluster munitions have been used in 'recent weeks' in airstrikes in Houthi stronghold in northern Yemen More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil Wari
X
Henry Ridgwell
May 03, 2015 1:12 AM
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Black Families Use Baltimore Case to Revisit 'Police Talk'

Following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody this month, VOA interviewed black families throughout the eastern U.S. city of Baltimore about how they discuss the case. Over and over, parents pointed to a crucial talk they say every black mother or father has with their children. Victoria Macchi has more on how this conversation is passed down through generations.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video 'Woman in Gold' Uses Artwork as Symbol of Cultural Identity

Simon Curtis’ legal drama, "Woman in Gold," is based on the true story of an American Jewish refugee from Austria who fights to reclaim a famous Gustav Klimt painting stolen from her family by the Nazis during World War II. It's a haunting film that speaks to the hearts of millions who have sought to reclaim their past, stripped from them 70 years ago. VOA's Penelope Poulou reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video First Surgical Glue Approved for Use Inside Body

While medical adhesives are becoming more common, none had been approved for use inside the body until now. Earlier this year, the first ever biodegradable surgical glue won that approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on the innovation and its journey from academia to market.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Study: One in Six Species Threatened with Extinction

Climate change is transforming the planet. Unless steps are taken to reduce global warming, scientists predict rising seas, stronger and more frequent storms, drought, fire and floods. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study on species extinction underscores the need to take action to avoid the most catastrophic effects of rising temperatures.
Video

Video Taviani Brothers' 'Wondrous Boccaccio' Offers Tales of Love, Humor

The Italian duo of Paolo and Vittorio Taviani have been making movies for half a century: "The Night of the Shooting Stars," "Padre Padrone," "Good Morning, Babylon." Now in their 80s, the brothers have turned to one of the treasures of Italian culture for their latest film. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver reports.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Baltimore Riots Shed Light on City’s Troubled Past

National Guard troops took up positions Tuesday in Baltimore, Maryland, as authorities tried to restore order after rioting broke out a day earlier. It followed Monday's funeral of a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody earlier this month. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Challenges Await Aid Organizations on the Ground in Nepal

A major earthquake rocked Nepal on Saturday and killed thousands, injured thousands more and sent countless Nepalese outside to live in makeshift tent villages. The challenges to Nepal are enormous, with some reconstruction estimates at around $5 billion. Aid workers from around the world face challenges getting into Nepal, which likely makes for a difficult recovery. Arash Arabasadi has the story from Washington.

Poll: Baltimore Police Charged

Poll archive

VOA Blogs