News / Africa

Somali-Americans Join Fight Against Drought

Internally displaced Somali women queue to receive food-aid rations at a distribution center
Internally displaced Somali women queue to receive food-aid rations at a distribution center
Julia Laurence

Somalis – and especially young Somalis – in Minnesota’s diaspora communities are collaborating in creative ways to raise money for the displaced and hungry.

They are among the many  diaspora communities in the U.S. responding to the crisis. Many have extended family in Somalia suffering from the drought, and these young Somali-Americans say they can – and should – help.

Shukri Abdinur, who was born in Somalia, is a 23-year-old graduate of the University of Minnesota. She joined the relief effort as a volunteer for the American Refugee Committee, or ARC, organizing fundraisers to benefit the victims in East Africa.  For her, the famine is a reminder of how fortunate she and other Somalis in the U.S. are, and why they must help.

“At the end of the day,” she said, “I’m Somali, those are my brothers and sisters. It is extremely important that we don’t forget that those people back home are suffering and I could have easily been one of those people because I was one of the lucky ones to leave during the war.”

Like Shukri, many Somali youth in Minneapolis are thinking of ways of contributing to -- or partnering with – agencies like the ARC which can effectively distribute aid.

The group’s president, Daniel Wordsworth, said it has been working for some time with Somalis in the diaspora to set up a fundraising network.

“We’ve spent a year and a half building up relationships throughout the Somali community. That’s what Neighbors for Nations is. It’s the name for the partnership between us and the Somali community starting here in the Twin cities [Minneapolis and St. Paul]," he said. "We already had all of these relationships before the famine struck. It all comes together when there is a crisis like this.”

According to Wordsworth, the first thing that needs to be done is recognizing that it is actually the Somali community in the U.S. and the global diaspora who are the keys to making a difference in their country.

“What we are trying to do,” he said, “is support them and their efforts to make a difference there.”

In return for raising funds, the ARC will help volunteers go to Somalia to work directly with relief efforts.

“A lot of what you see us doing is helping to mobilize their community, helping to allow them if they want to send their funds, that they can send their funds through.  If they would like to volunteer as a doctor or as an engineer, we can provide a vehicle for them to get over and make a difference in their country,” Wordsworth said.

With the drought crisis underway, the ARC is already putting donations to good use.  Wordsworth said that the ARC has a team on the ground in the capital, Mogadishu, distributing food, as well as tarpaulins, blankets and cooking utensils to families.
Most of the supplies distributed by the ARC are funded by the American Somali communities. The Minnesota diaspora alone has raised more than $100,000 in the last two weeks.

In Minneapolis, local Somalis continue their fundraising efforts by hosting carwashes, picnics, and sports events. Shukri said she helps organize the car washes and hold picnics where people were charged $5 a plate. According to Shukri at events like this the whole community almost 200 people were present.

“We also are doing a one day basketball tournament this weekend, where we are going to have about six to eight teams who are also paying to play and then we have admissions and so we’re going to basically profit off that and then give that to the ARC,” Shukri said.

The fundraisers wouldn’t be nearly as successful if it weren’t for the help of social media like Facebook to spread the word about on-going events.

The new and free alternative to formal fundraising is successfully drawing in a younger crowd of volunteers.The new generation is tech-savvy, politically-aware, and inspired to help out.

Videos and slide shows on You Tube and other sites are making the grim reality of the famine widely accessible to a wider and younger audience.  

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid