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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid