Upside My Head: Famine in Somalia and the Horn of Africa — What to do, how to help

29,000 children under the age of five died from the famine in Somalia in the last 90 days. Over 800,000 more children are at risk to starve to death. Please read that again, slowly, and let it sink it. Imagine your children, your family. Make this personal. It is.

Something is very wrong with our collective humanity that there is not more global outrage and heartbreak over what is happening in Somalia and across the Horn of Africa. Where is the constant media coverage, the relief concerts, the major challenge grants for donations? In my social media streams I see mostly Somali and other East Africans focused on this. Why is not everyone doing everything they can?

Minnesota is home to the largest Somali community in North America. Our neighbors, literally. The people of Somalia are our global neighbors, literally and figuratively. Make it personal. It is.
Help be the change.
Here are three things you can do now to educate yourself, send money, and increase awareness of this crisis:

1. Listen to the archived on-air discussion about the famine in Somalia:
An amazing coalition of young Somali American professionals from across the country came together on the Aug. 7 edition of the Somali Community Link radio program on KFAI radio to discuss this crisis and what can be done. An archive of the one-hour broadcast can be found here

More information about the discussion:
Many Somali communities in Unites States have been mobilizing to raise awareness and funds for the severe drought ravaging half of Somalia’s population and millions of more people in the Horn of Africa. The energy behind many of these efforts has been from young professionals who are volunteering their time, skills and tapping into their networks for help.

A group of these dynamic young leaders from around the United States came together in an on-air radio discussion about twhat they’ve been doing in their communities and how the general public can help. Representatives from communities in Minnesota, Massachusetts, Vi​rginia, Ohio, California, Texas were part of the discussion:

Nimo Farah, Minnesota (facilitator)

Ifrah Esse, Minnesota
Amal Hussein, Massachusetts
Hibak Kaflan, Virginia
Mohamed Ali, Ohio
Awil Egal, California
Sh. Mohamed Shakib Abqari, Texas

2. Send money
Send what money you can to help the relief efforts and encourage others to do the same. Nimo Farah of Minneapolis recommends this: Donate to Somali led organizations that use funds $1 for $1 and have volunteers on the ground with quick turn around time – The African Future and Welcome Amoud Foundation. If you prefer more mainstream organizations, a list of organizations can be found here.

3. Further educate yourself and become an advocate.
A brief excerpt:
…The drought currently plaguing the region is considered to be the worst in the Horn of Africa since the 1950s.  This is a region long plagued by cyclical drought, but what used to be a ten-year cycle is now occurring every other year.  In Somalia, the combined 2 effects of consecutive seasons of failed or poor rainfall coupled with conflict, have resulted in rising inflation, crop failure, livestock mortality, population displacement, food insecurity, and significant acute malnutrition rates in Somalia.  
In January 2011, FSNAU [Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit] estimated that 2.4 million people in Somalia were in crisis. Their latest data indicate there are at least 2.85 million people in Somalia in need of life-saving assistance, a 19 percent increase in six months.  That means that, of the estimated 9.9 million people living in Somalia, one in four is now in need of international aid to survive…  
Background on the historical and political issues contributing to the crisis can be found in this recent CBS News article. Be sure to click on the links. Continuing coverage of the crisis can also be found on Al Jazeera English.
Once you have educated yourself, then spread the word about the severity of the crisis and the need for awareness and a global relief effort through your social media networks. Insist that the world take notice and do more!
One last thing, listen to this beautiful, haunting poem, somali:nevermind, by Amir Sulaiman, which captures both the beauty and pain that is Somali and the heartbreak of the global back turning on it’s starvation.
This post was written by Ann Freeman and originally published at Upside My Head.

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