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

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee 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.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid