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

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora